This Week In the Sun Belt – From the Bird’s Nest
After two weeks, the Sun Belt Conference has a winning record in non-conference games.
Unless some upsets occur this weekend, that's about to change.
Of the ten Sun Belt teams playing this weekend (Appalachian State is off), eight are double-digit underdogs. Here's a look at the other games besides Louisiana at Ole Miss
GEORGIA SOUTHERN AT GEORGIA TECH (-21)--Saturday, 11am, Raycom Sports Network---Georgia State opened with a tough one point loss at N. C. State in week one and then hung 83 on Savannah State in week two. This game at Georgia Tech should be an interesting one in that, until this year, the two teams ran the same kind of offense. Even now, the Eagles are running an option offense, now out of the spread. Can you imagine what this might be like if Jeff Monken was still coaching Georgia Southern? The game might be over in two and a half hours.
AIR FORCE AT GEORGIA STATE (+11.5) Saturday, 1pm, ESPN3--It was a tough pill to swallow last week as GSU led New Mexico State 24-10 in the third quarter, but lost 34-31 with NMSU getting the winning score with just :15 left. Georgia State is home for the third straight week, taking on Air Force, who had some tough luck of their own, falling to Wyoming 17-13 as the Cowboys scored in the final minute. Air Force opened with a 44-16 win over Nicholls State and frankly, I'm surprised they aren't a bigger favorite.
ARKANSAS STATE AT MIAMI (-16.5) Saturday, 2:30, ESPNU)---After an 18-point loss at Louisville to open the season, the Hurricane's got well last week against Florida A&M, beating the Rattlers 41-7 with a balanced attack. Arkansas State stayed competitive most of the way against Tennessee before depth, as usual, took over. ASU hasn't been great offensively the first two games, but don't be surprised if they're more than competitive in this one.
MISSISSIPPI STATE AT SOUTH ALABAMA (+14.5) Saturday 3pm ESPNews--The Bulldogs opened with an easy win against Southern Miss and won a shootout with a better than expected UAB team. South Alabama won at Kent State last week after having a bye in week one. This is the Jaguars' home opener and my guess is Joey Jones will have them ready to play. Mississippi State is going on the road for the first time this year. Do you smell something??
WESTERN MICHIGAN AT IDAHO (-3) Saturday, 4pm, ESPN3--You know that old saying about "bringing the weather with you?" Well, after having their first game cancelled because of bad weather, Idaho and ULM suffered through a weather delay of over two hours last week. That made for a long trip back home for Idaho and to top it off, they gave up a touchdown with nine second remaining and lose by a touchdown. They play their home opener at the Kibbie Dome against a Western Michigan squad that has had two weeks to prepare. I still maintain this Idaho team is better than some people think.
ULM AT LSU (-31) Saturday, 6pm, ESPNU--For the first time since 1993 the Warhawks are 2-0 after a pair of home wins, including an exciting win over Idaho as the Warhawks drove the length of the field in the final minute and scored on a Centarius Donald run with :09 left. But now they're headed to Baton Rouge to take on the #10 team in the country. Can ULM do enough to keep this reasonable? We;ll see.
ABILENE CHRISTIAN AT TROY (no line) Saturday, 6pm, ESPN3—Troy is the only team in the Sun Belt that hasn’t won a game and here’s their chance to change that. The Trojans have lost their home opener for the second time in three years (UL did it to the Trojans two years ago. That’s the only time it’s happened in the Blakeney era. Troy has been outscored 82-27 in their first two games. And, Abilene Christian is capable offensively. But this should be the week the Troy offense gets untracked. They’d better. They head to Georgia next week.
NAVY AT TEXAS STATE (+11)—Saturday, 7pm, ESPNews—The Bobcats had the week off last week and have had two weeks to prepare for the Navy option attack. The Midshipmen are playing their third straight road game after splitting two games with Ohio State and Temple. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds is the guy who makes the Blue and Gold effective offensively. He has averaged over 100 yards on the ground on a Navy team that has averaged 425 yards per game on the ground. What makes this interesting is the two weeks Texas State has had to prepare for this one. Sometimes that’s just what a veteran coach like Dennis Franchione needs. This would be a huge win for the Bobcats if they can get it done at home. I’ll have an eye on this one.
NEW MEXICO STATE AT UTEP (-11)-Saturday, 7pm (American Sports Network)---Don’t look now but New Mexico State is 2-0. Honest. Now, granted, the wins were over FCS member Cal-Poly and a last minute win over Georgia State. But the Aggies have a road win and a conference win after tasting victory only two times last year. If the Aggies are to make it three in a row, they’ll have to find a way to slow down UTEP’s Aaron Jones, who has rushed for a total of 384 yards in two games. NMSU has had a balanced attack (averaging over 190 yards both rushing and passing,) and this could have a few points on the board before it’s over. This is the 92nd meeting between the Aggies and Miners in the I-10 Rivalry.
(All lines as of Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 10:30 am, courtesy vegasinsider.com