This Week in the Sun Belt Conference
It will be a couple of weeks before conference play gets into full swing in the Sun Belt. But there are a couple of league games being played as well as a great opportunity game for the league.
Here's what's on tap.
ARKANSAS STATE (0-2) AT UTAH STATE (1-1) (-9) 8:00 pm CBS Sports Network--It's really not a surprise the Red Wolves are 0-2 on the season, with losses to a very good Toledo team and Auburn. What is a surprise is, they haven't been competitive in either game. Now they head to Logan, Utah and get introduced to 4,500 feel elevation as they take on the Aggies of the Mountain West. Hard to gauge the Aggies so far: a blowout win over FCS Weber State and a blowout loss to USC. No one is going to argue the difficulty of the Arkansas State schedule. But, after their success the last few years, folks in Jonesboro aren't going to be happy with an 0-3 start. This is a big game for A-State.
GEORGIA STATE (0-2) AT #9 WISCONSIN (2-0) (-34') 11:00 am Big Ten Network--It doesn't get any easier for Trent Miles' club after an unexpected home loss to Ball State and a blowout against Air Force. Now they travel into the Big Ten to take on a solid, physical club from Wisconsin. The Panthers will get next Saturday off before opening league play....at Appalachian State, in their third straight road game.
#25 MIAMI (2-0) at APPALACHIAN STATE (1-1) (+3') 11:00 am, ESPN--Most coaches in the Sun Belt refer to games against the Power 5 as "opportunity games." This one really is. App has proven they can play with very good teams, and the squad believed to be the best in the league (unless you live in Jonesboro or Statesboro) gets a ranked team at home...and the Mountaineers are traditionally really, really good at home. Miami is tops in the nation in rush defense (34.5) and tackles for loss (28). But that was at home against FAMU and FAU. The 'Canes three natural freshmen linebackers will get a much bigger test this week.
IDAHO (1-1) at WASHINGTON STATE (0-2) (-25) 1:00 pm PAC-12 Network--How about a road trip where you travel a shorter distance than Comeaux HS does when they travel to Carencro...The two schools are a rousing eight miles apart, but they might as well be worlds apart when it comes to...well...most everything. Mike Leach ripped his team after their loss to Boise State last week. We'll see if they got the message against an Idaho team that wasn't competitive against Washington last week.
NEW MEXICO STATE (1-1) AT KENTUCKY (0-2) (-19') 3:00 pm SEC Alternate--You gotta give it up to the Aggies, who managed to beat arch-rival New Mexico without Mr. Everything, Larry Rose III who missed his second straight game. Rose is doubtful this week as well as they head to Lexington. Kentucky blew a big lead in week one against Southern Miss and then didn't even compete at Florida. Mark Stoops may not survive this season. If NMSU pulls the upset, he might not survive next week. His team better be ready. Something tells me the Aggies will be.
*UL MONROE (1-1) AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN (2-0, 1-0) (-25) 5:00 pm, ESPN3--New head coach Tyson Summers has had Georgia Southern playing well, especially on defense where the Eagles held South Alabama without a touchdown last week. ULM has moved the football in their two games this year. Their defense, however, hasn't stopped anyone. They'll have their work cut out for them against the Eagles' option offense.
*SOUTH ALABAMA (1-1, 0-1) AT LOUISIANA (1-1) (-3) 6:00 pm, ESPN3--Considering the injuries the Jags have had defensively, especially up front, the fact they've held Mississippi State and Georgia Southern to 44 combined points is pretty impressive. They'll face the most balanced offense they've seen this year in the Cajuns. The key here will be to see how much the Cajuns' defense has improved in their second week of a new scheme. USA is not an offensive juggernaut, but Dallas Davis is capable...and the Cajuns' secondary, while better last week, really needs to get better. USA needs to be able to run the football...something that's been an issue the first two games.
TROY (1-1) AT SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (2-0) (-11) 6:00 pm BeIN--The Golden Eagles have averaged 50 points in their two wins and one of those wins was against an SEC opponent on the road. Troy gave Clemson all they wanted last week and, for those who follow the league and felt Troy might be a dark horse, it wasn't a total shock. That Troy defense is really going to get a test this week, and you gotta wonder about a hangover after a tough loss a week ago. The game is on something called BeIN, a small network (at least in the US) owned by Al Jazeera. Gotta love that CUSA TV contract.
TEXAS STATE (1-0) AT #24 ARKANSAS (2-0) (-31) 6:00 pm, SEC Alternate--Two close wins have even Hogs fans surprised Arkansas is now in the Top 25. But one of those was on the road against a ranked TCU club. Texas State stunned Ohio in their opener and showed a fast break offense that was incredibly efficient, considering the Bobcats returned just one skill player on offense. Everett Withers' team may not be able to slow the Razorbacks down. But they've had two weeks to prepare, they're confident after week one and it's pretty much a guarantee the Razorbacks, with a trip to College Station up next week, might be looking right past this one. That might be a mistake.
(Lines from vegasinsider.com)