Rivals Sacks the Sunbelt in Their Midseason FBS Rankings...Again

Tobi WritesAnalyst IOctober 13, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 21: Quarterback Levi Brown #12 of the Troy Trojans is sacked by Jerome Lyons #49 of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on December 21, 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Eagles defeated the Trojans 30-27. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Rivals.com put out their midseason full FBS rankings.

Here is Rivals's ranking of the sunbelt.

71. Troy (3-2)
79. Arkansas State (1-3)
80. Middle Tennessee (3-2)
87. Louisiana-Lafayette (3-2)
90. Louisiana-Monroe (3-2)
109. North Texas (1-4)
110. Florida International (1-4)
115. Florida Atlantic (0-4)
120. Western Kentucky (0-5)

Overall, I think they have the sequence mostly right.

I'd still put FAU over FIU and UNT as both latter teams likely expect FAU to beat them. I would not move FIU up that much for beating Western Kentucky.

I think UNT and FAU are playing in the hundreds level today and FIU is playing in the 110's level.

I think the Louisiana schools are ranked a little high.  I think they are 90s quality teams.

Middle Tennessee also hits me as too highly ranked. They were destroyed by Troy while ASU lost by three.  It doesn't make any sense to me that they are only ranked 1 slot behind ASU.

I'd say they are a mid-80s quality team today.

I'd rank Arkansas State one slot behind Troy.  If that means 72 today, fine.  There is no doubt Troy was the better team by a good bit when the two teams played, but the Red Wolves only lost by 3 and have vastly outplayed Troy out of conference.

Some may complain that with the highest team ranked 71st out of 120 FBS schools, the sunbelt is underrated.

Highest rated schools in other conferences

SEC: 1. Alabama (6-0)
Big 12: 3. Texas (5-0)
PAC 10: 4. USC (4-1)
ACC: 5. Virginia Tech (5-1)
Big 10: 6. Iowa (6-0)
Big East: 7. Cincinnati (5-0)
WAC: 8. Boise State (5-0)
MWC: 10. TCU (5-0)
CUSA: 20. Houston (4-1)
INDYs: 24. Notre Dame (4-1)
MAC: 40. Central Michigan (5-1)

To a point, I disagree.  Troy has beaten the two likely contenders for the conference title.  They are at this point, by definition, the flag bearers of the conference.

No Sunbelt team is going to be rated higher than Troy until the results of the head to head matchups with Troy fade a bit.

The problem for the conference is that Troy showed nothing out of conference.

They lost on the road to No. 78 2-4 Bowling Green 31-14 and were a total no show vs. No. 2 Florida, unable to even score a TD in their 56-6 loss, before finally beating the 102nd ranked 2-3 UAB blazers fairly soundly (27-14) in Troy's home opener.

This created the same kind of problem the conference used to have when UNT was dominating it. When the best team in a conference stinks it up out of conference and dominates in conference, it has the effect of sapping the conference's perceived strength.

Now will Troy eventually climb back up to the edge of the top 25 by season's end?  Maybe, but it isn't a given.  If they are upset at some point in conference they may top out in the 40s.

If only Arkansas State had beaten Troy, the Red Wolves might be ranked around 30th now and the entire conference would be viewed better, but alas in typical Sunbelt form, it did not happen.