This Week in the Sun Belt – From the Bird’s Nest
The Cajuns have the weekend off, but there are some pretty interesting matchups in the league this week. And, some that aren't nearly as interesting. Here's a look...
BAYLOR AT LOUISIANA-MONROE (Friday)- After knocking off Arkansas and having a near-miss on the plains of Auburn, ULM has its home opener Friday night and a record crowd could be in store at Malone Stadium. Baylor comes in as the opponent, and they don't have Robert Griffin III any more. What they do have is an awful lot of speed, especially on offense. ULM's hybrid 4-2-5 defense can be hard to prepare for...and Kolton Browning has turned into the Sun Belt's best weapon. Bears are a touchdown favorite. ULM has never had a winning season since moving to the FBS. A win in this game could change that streak.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI AT WESTERN KENTUCKY-The Hilltoppers are this week's Sun Belt darlings after knocking off Kentucky last week. And, Willie Taggart was certainly the coach of the week after his gutsy trick play two point conversion to win the game. Topper fans have actually taken notice, and Houchens L. T. Smith Stadium could sell out for this one. Honest. WKU is a favorite in this game. Let me say that again. WKU is a favorite in this game. Southern Miss is 0-2 under new coach Ellis Johnson and they need this one in the worst way. Although the Eagles don't appear to be a good club this year, a Hilltoppers' win here is another skin on the wall for the Sun Belt.
TROY AT NORTH TEXAS-It's the Conference opener for the Mean Green. Troy is already 0-1. Both teams are 1-2 overall, and while it's early to call this game a must win for both teams, well, it's a must win for both teams. A second conference loss could send Troy into the same tailspin they went through a year ago, when they developed chemistry problems on the way to a 3-9 record. On the other side, UNT has a chance to make a statement to their fans that after suffering through losing season after losing season, things could be turning around. Or, they could drop to 1-3 and Apogee Stadium could become a ghost town.
LOUISVILLE AT FIU- Remember last year when the Panthers knocked off the Cardinals and got votes in the polls...until the Cajuns got them the following week? Well, here's Louisville, nationally-ranked and looking for revenge. A loss drops the Panthers to 1-3 and makes next week's conference opener "make or break" for FIU's season.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC AT ALABAMA= An FAU defensive player isn't impressed by Alabama. We'll check with him again on Monday.
ALCORN STATE AT ARKANSAS STATE-ASU stadium has been renamed "Liberty Bank Stadium." The Red Wolves shouldn't having any trouble cashing a check.
SOUTH ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE-The Bulldogs had to fight tooth and nail to beat a Sun Belt school last week. Not this time.