This Week in the Sun Belt Conference
There were some mixed results last week in the Sun Belt, as teams went 6-5, and 2-5 against FBS opponents. The good news was the unexpected wins by South Alabama and Texas State. Both were 20-plus road underdogs in their respective games at Mississippi State and Ohio.
But there were also a couple of unexpected losses as Arkansas State fell to Toledo and Georgia State was beaten by Ball State. Both of the Sun Belt teams were home favorites.
Still, the two wins over FBS schools is already half of what the entire league had a year ago.
This week sees the first conference game of the season taking place in Mobile. Everyone else has an FBS opponent and four of those games are against the Power Five. Only Louisiana plays an FCS opponent in McNeese State and Texas State is idle.
Here are the matchups, with lines and TV times:
TROY (1-0) AT #2 CLEMSON (1-0) (-36) 11:30 am ESPN3--Clemson's high powered offense struggled last week at Auburn, but their defense shone as the #2 Tigers handed the SEC one of it's seven losses in the first week of play. Their offense won't have as difficult time against the Troy defense, but the Trojans offense has plenty of firepower and might be a tougher task for the Tigers than Auburn was in that regard.
GEORGIA STATE (0-1) at AIR FORCE (1-0) (-18) 1 pm Mountain West Network--Georgia State's defense has veteran players returning, but gave up 31 Saturday to Ball State, who probably won't challenge in the MAC. They'll have to be better this week traveling to Colorado Springs to challenge the Falcons. AFA best Abilene Christian 37-21,in a game where they were favored by more than 40.
OLD DOMINION (1-0) at APPALACHIAN STATE (1-0) (-20) 2:30 pm American Sports Network/ESPN3--The Monarchs of Conference USA had a lopsided win over Hampton to open the season, but face a much, much sterner test against the Mountaineers, who opened everyone's eyes in their near-upset of Tennessee last Thursday. While this looks like a mismatch on paper, remember, App has a much ballyhooed game next week in Boone against Miami. That makes this a classic trap game. Be careful, App State.
IDAHO (1-0) at WASHINGTON (1-0) (-37) 4 pm, PAC-12 Network--Idaho got a win to open the season against past and future Big Sky foe Montana State last week, but that three point margin was a little disconcerting in a game where the Vandals were favored at home by a couple of touchdowns. They run into a Huskies' squad that beat Big 10 foe Rutgers by five touchdowns. This might be the Washington team Chris Peterson has been waiting for.
ULM (1-0) at #14 OKLAHOMA (0-1) (-46') 6 pm Sooner Network PPV--Matt Viator got his first win as head coach of the Warhawks before an announced crowd of more than 24,000. But not only do the Warhawks have to go to Norman, they go to Norman after Oklahoma, preseason #3 team in the country, is coming off a loss. Wonder how many subscriptions OU will sell this week to watch this game.
ARKANSAS STATE (0-1) at AUBURN (0-1) (-19') 6:30 pm, SEC Network--There's no way to describe the Red Wolves opener in any way but disappointing after the lopsided loss to Toledo at Centennial Bank Stadium. The Red Wolves have a pair of Power 5 transfer quarterbacks and neither looked ready to lead the offense. Speaking of offense, there wasn't much out of the Tigers last week, either, prompting coach Gus Malzahn to say he's naming a quarterback and sticking with him. A lot of these A-State players were recruited by Malzahn. That, if for no other reason, could make some viewers curious.
NEW MEXICO at NEW MEXICO STATE (+12') 7 pm ESPN3--The Aggies have their home opener this weekend. That's the good news. The bad news: Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Larry Rose III is listed as doubtful. And,although NMSU did generate some offense without him last week, their defense is still, well, New Mexico State's defense.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (1-0) at SOUTH ALABAMA (1-0) (+13) 6 pm American Sports Network/ESPN3---The Eagles started the Tyson Summers era in fine fashion with their blowout win over a bad Savannah State team and I'll bet the Eagles are willing to show off more of their offense this week, which will make it tough for South Alabama to prepare. What can you say about the Jaguars? A team whose defensive line was decimated by injuries before the first game, came through against Mississippi State, giving the Jaguars their biggest signature win. Dallas Davis was outstanding for the Jags and he's going to have to duplicate it if the Jags are going to be 2-0 heading to Lafayette next week. Letdown game? It's conference play.