This Week in the Sun Belt – From the Bird’s Nest
One game dealing with the top of the standings and one featuring a must-win for bowl eligibility highlight the games in the league this week
LOUISIANA-MONROE (6-3, 4-1) AT ARKANSAS STATE (6-3, 4-1)
Liberty Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR
Thursday, 6pm ESPNU
It took Arkansas State about half the season to adjust to the new schemes a new coaching staff brings. Now the Red Wolves have it together and they just might be the odds-on favorite to win the conference title. Meanwhile, ULM is mourning the loss of their do-everything quarterback and they could be in some deep trouble in the conference race, although after this one, they play two teams in the second division. The short week does not work in the Warhawks’ favor after an emotional loss to Louisiana at home. A week ago, this was must see tv. Now, I’m not so sure.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (2-7, 1-4) AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (6-3, 3-2)
Houchens Industries/L. T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY
Saturday, 12 PM, Sun Belt Network
WKU has had a few extra days to lick their wounds after their home loss to Middle Tennessee last Thursday night. Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic played credibly, falling to Navy by just a touchdown. WKU is bowl eligible, and while there may be enough slots for everyone this year, the more the Hilltoppers can pad their resume with W’s, the better the chance they’ll avoid what happened to them at the end of last season. This Saturday, Willie and the poor boys will be playing. Bring your nickel, tap your feet.
NAVY (6-3) AT TROY (4-5)
Veterans Memorial Stadium/Larry Blakeney Field, Troy, Alabama
Saturday, 2:30, ESPN3
The Naval Academy has accepted a bid to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl after getting its sixth win of the season against Sun Belt member FAU. Troy gave Tennessee all it wanted, but when all was said and done, it was another loss for the Trojans, who pretty much face a must-win situation this week in order to keep their hopes alive. Normally, we’d say playing at home is a plus, but the Trojans are just 1-3 at the Vet this year. Win and the Trojans still have a pulse. Lose and their probably sitting at home for the second straight year. And, that won’t set well with Troy fans.
SOUTH ALABAMA (2-7. 1-4) AT NORTH TEXAS (3-6, 2-3)
Apogee Stadium, Denton, Texas
Saturday, 4pm No Television
The Jaguars have shown steady improvement in the second hafl of the season and, along with the win over FAU, have made a couple of league teams sweat to get a win. Joey Jones’ club is good defensively and improving offensively. North Texas has to be disappointed after not really coming that close to an upset last week against Arkansas State and now if they’re going to make it to a bowl, they have to win out starting today and carrying over to games agaisnt ULM and WKU. That probably isn’t going to happen. Both teams will use this game as a building block to the future. It’ll be interesting to see how the UNT offense does against the Jags’ defense. I’ll be surprised if this one is a high scoring game.