What We Know About The Sunbelt After Week 2

Tobi WritesAnalyst ISeptember 17, 2009

MIAMI - OCTOBER 14:  Josh Padrick #16 of the Florida International Panthers looks to pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the game at the Orange Bowl on October 14, 2006 in Miami, Florida. Miami won 35-0.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

A few years back, a TV announcer made the following statement that I have always thought was quite insightful:  "In college football, the more talented team wins 80% of the time."

The comment is all at once insightful and simple.  Generally, the lower tier FBS teams have little shot against the BCS schools because the BCS schools can roll out 2-4 waves of players who are as good as the lower tier schools' starters. 

What you will see a lot of times is a solid small school hanging tough until the third period, but then getting blown out late.

So I am not as concerned with Florida blowing out Troy 56-6, Nebraska blowing out ASU 38-9, or Alabama blowing out FIU 40-14. Everyone knew Florida was going to run up some points on Troy.  They are simply too explosive for any Sunbelt school. 

After Nebraska destroyed FAU in week one, ASU seemed likely to also get rolled by the Cornhuskers.  No real surprise there. 

FIU was surprisingly competitive.  FIU was only down 20-14 at halftime to a very well rounded and potent Alabama team before depth came into play.

Of all the Sunbelt schools, only FIU has shown any ability to hang with the big boys.  Do not be surprised if they make a big push to win the conference this year.

What's that, you say? ULL beat Kansas State? Yes, ULL did beat an out of synch Kansas State squad that had won a squeaker 21-17 over one of the better FCS schools (UMASS) in week one.  Most Sunbelt schools would have had a good shot against them last week, especially if they hosted the Wildcats like ULL did.

ULL also beat a good FCS school in week one, defeating high powered Southern University 42-19.  It is entirely likely that Southern has a better offense at this point than Kansas State.

Kansas State has solid offensive talent, but they clearly are not hitting on all cylinders.  They were down 14-2 at the end of the third quarter before getting their act together and scoring 13 unanswered 4th quarter points to briefly take the lead. 

A BCS school with good offensive talent like the Wildcats doesn't usually get blanked for three quarters by a lower level FBS school unless they are having problems with their execution.

ULL faces LSU and Nebraska the next two weeks, and then opens Sunbelt play vs. a drastically improved UNT.  Let's talk about where they stand after that. 

Their defense is decent and may keep them close in both of those games, but we will see.  Right now it seems likely the Kansas State game had a lot more to do with home field advantage and Kansas State's offensive problems than the quality of the Ragin' Cajuns. 

Right now, the Ragin' Cajuns look more like spoilers with a shot at a bowl game than a team in the title mix.

Speaking of Sunbelt spoilers with bowl aspirations, Middle Tennessee bounced back from their 37-14 shellacking at the hands of Clemson in week one to beat up on likely CUSA cellar dweller Memphis, 31-14. UNT dominated Ohio for most of their game, but ended up dropping a couple touchdown passes late and lost 31-30 in double OT. 

Although a number of teams have improved this year, UNT is clearly the most improved team in the Sunbelt. Last season, UNT was non-competitive in almost every game.  It seems very likely that UNT will not only compete with the Sunbelt rank and file, they may also be able to compete with the pre-season sunbelt favorites Troy, FAU, and Arkansas State—none of which seem quite as strong as predicted in the preseason.

UL-Monroe destroyed an awful FCS school, Texas Southern, 58-0.  They were themselves destroyed by a great BCS school in Texas in week one, 59-20, making a good evaluation of their level of play difficult. 

Their next game against Arizona State will clarify how good this team really is.  If they hang around or win, they could join the spoiler group.  If they get run, they will be in the basement tier.

Finally we reach Western Kentucky, the likely worst team in the conference. 

They got a talent whipping by Tennessee in week one, but played USF tough this week.  They were only down 21-13 to South Florida after three quarters.  That is the kind of competitiveness that usually indicates a program is starting to find its feet at the FBS level.