This Week in the Sun Belt
Last week's game certainly lived up to the advance billing.
Appalachian State and Troy got after each other for 60 minutes and it took every one of them for Troy to get that home win which not only kept them in a tie for the league lead, it also vaulted them into the AP Top 25, the first Sun Belt team ever to get such a recognition.
And, as I'm sure Neal Brown has reminded his team, they haven't won a thing except a chance to do it again this week.
Notice this week's biggest game is on Thursday.
Here's a look at what's going on in the league.
ARKANSAS STATE (5-4, 5-0) at #25 TROY (8-1, 5-0)(-8) 8:30pm ESPNU--Great game last Saturday. How about another one? Troy gets the advantage of playing at home on a short week, but will that offset the rest of the intangibles. Yay, we beat the team picked to win the league. Yay, we're ranked 25th and getting all sorts of attention. Yay. This week will be one of Neal Brown's toughest coaching jobs. I'm sure the Trojans are saying all the right things, but they can't afford any kind of let down here. Remember when the Red Wolves were 0-4 and we were all asking what was going on in Jonesboro? Well, all is right again in the 'Boro. And, here comes a team full of confidence and bristling at the thought of anyone believing the league race is over. Will the Trojans help the league take another step forward, or will they be just another team that can't handle success. The Trojans have the home field working in their favor. But A-State got it done in just 30 minutes in Boone last year. They ain't scared. How fitting this should be on national television.
LOUISIANA (4-5) at GEORGIA (6-4) (-23) 11am, SEC Network Alternate The Cajuns finally opened up the playbook last Thursday and showed what their offense is capable of, rolling up nearly 500 yards in offense against Georgia Southern in the other "Boro. The Cajuns run defense, which has been more than solid all season, was superb, holding the Eagles to less than 50 yards rushing. But now they face a Georgia team that's big and physical on both sides of the ball, and they get to see Nick Chubb up close and personal. Can the Cajuns slow down the Georgia running game? And, are there a few pages left in the playbook? Georgia Southern wasn't prepared to see things the Cajuns haven't done all season. But Georgia has video now.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (4-6, 3-3) at GEORGIA STATE (2-8, 1-5) (+2')--They ain't happy at Georgia Southern. The Eagles started 3-0 and now have lost six of seven. Quarterback injuries have been part of it, but only part of it. The Eagles are used to winning and must win their last two in order to be bowl eligible. Well, they ain't happy in Atlanta, either, evidently. Georgia State gave Trent Miles some parting gifts after their loss to UL Monroe Saturday. It will be interesting to see how well Georgia Southern moves the football against a good Georgia State defense. Here's something you can count on. Whoever loses will be even less happy than they are now. If the Eagles lose this week, their fans may spontaneously combust.
UL MONROE (4-6, 3-3) at APPALACHIAN STATE (7-3, 5-1) (-25') 1:30 ESPN3--Only five home games. Games against Auburn, Oklahoma and New Mexico, all on the road. Games against Arkansas State and Georgia Southern on the road. And now, a trip to App State. That's what Matt Viator's club has been up against this season. Oh, and they haven't had their starting quarterback since week five. Yet, here it is, week eleven and the Warhawks are still mathematically in the hunt to become bowl eligible. And, it's honestly a pity no one in Monroe has noticed, judging by the actual crowds at their games.. That mathematics thing will likely come to an end Saturday But this is one of the league's better stories. I'm interested to see how App responds to last week. Angry? Or hungover?
TEXAS STATE (2-7, 0-5) at NEW MEXICO STATE (2-7, 1-4) (-9') Tyler Rogers and Tyler Jones continue to play well for their respective teams. But neither team's defense has cooperated and so the records are what you see. It's been a long season for both teams. For one, it's about to get longer. Ready for this? NMSU is 2-1 at home. Anyone want to try an over/under on actual attendance in Las Cruces Saturday?
PRESBYTERIAN (2-8) at SOUTH ALABAMA (4-5) (NL) 6pm, ESPN3 --The Jaguars (and their fans) would probably rather be in Baton Rouge but this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It wasn't likely they were going to get out of Tiger Town with a win and they'll be underdogs at Idaho. Losses there would have ended their bowl hopes. But a win over the Blue Hose and a win in the finale against New Mexico State would put USA at 6-6 even with their loss to Idaho. Once bowl slots are filled with eligible teams the first teams added to the pool are teams with 6-6 that feature two wins over FCS schools. Hurricane Matthew just might wind up with the Jags playing a 13th game.