(Tossed in at the end, in case you're one of those dozen or so people who bet on Sun Belt football...)
The Sun Belt is on fire!
That is, it's burning itself by allowing the cellar teams to beat teams who need wins to become bowl-eligible.
Louisiana-Laugh-at-us successfully dashed MTSU's hopes of an at-large bowl bid when they won at Murfreesboro on Saturday.
FAU is flirting with a six-win season, but with trips to Florida and Troy upcoming it looks like that might be all they get.
Even that sixth game isn't a guarantee: Watch out for FIU—who's thirsty for a win after a close loss to ASU, and could come out on top this week against La-La.
North Texas apparently sent their defense to Jonesboro to get ready for the game against Arkansas State.
The trouble is that Navy was in Denton for a football game. Or a basketball game—the jury is still out.
136 points, 1,315 yards, and 19 touchdowns later, 26,012 people left Fouts Field needing a cigarette.
The UNT defense showed up with about 8:06 left , forcing their only punt of the game.
For the record, and comparison's sake, FIU scored 58 points in their first seven games this year. Ouch.
In good news for the Sun Belt, two SBC players are tied for the national lead in interceptions.
Tavious "Marco...Marco?" Polo of FAU and Elbert "It's an INT or a TD Against Me!" Mack of Troy have both pulled down seven picks to date.
Watch Them on the Tube
This week marks the rematch of last year's most exciting Sun Belt game—Troy's 21-20 comeback win over Murfreesboro.
MTSU will come in pumped up and looking to throw the ball.
If any publicity is good publicity, the Sun Belt got some this week. The Tuesday game between Troy and MTSU should continue that in grand fashion.
The Battle for the Palladium (AKA The World's Biggest Toga Party) will be televised on ESPN2.
1. Troy Trojans (7-3)
Last Week: Win at Western Kentucky 21-17
Troy discovered three things when they visited Bowling Green this week:
First, when Western went in and beat MTSU at home earlier this year, it wasn't a fluke. WKU will be a formidable opponent with a great home-field advantage when they officially join the Sun Belt in 2009.
Second, Troy still can't defend the run. Troy has given up an average of 248 yards on the ground in the last two games.
Third, turnovers are bad. Troy finally figured that out and gave up only one turnover against Western Kentucky...after giving up 15 in the previous three games.
This week is another trap game, with MTSU looking for revenge.
This week: vs. Middle Tennessee (Tues, Nov 20)
2. Florida Atlantic Owls (5-4)
Last Week: Win at Arkansas State 34-31
Florida Atlantic took advantage of a pair of Arkansas State three-and-outs and held the ball for 11:06 of the fourth quarter to come away with a victory in Jonesboro last week.
The Owls trailed by 11 points early in the fourth quarter—their largest deficit in Sun Belt play this year.
With their offense looking anemic, FAU's upcoming game in Gainesville is looking more and more like a potential blowout.
Pray for the Owls.
This week: at Florida
3. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (4-5)
Last Week: Loss vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 34-24
MTSU needs to send a thank-you note to head coach Rod Broadway at Grambling State for making Louisiana-Monroe look like a good I-AA team.
If they hadn't, ULM would've edged out the suddenly-feeble-looking Blue Raiders for the No. 3 slot this week.
MTSU managed to run only 11 plays in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Not-So-Spicy Cajuns, in a poor attempt to come back in front of yet another sub-20,000 crowd.
This week: at Troy (Tues, Nov 20)
4. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (4-6)
Last Week: Win vs. Grambling State 28-14
The good news is that the Warhawks won in front of a record crowd (30,101) on Saturday.
The bad news, of course, is that they managed to put up just 28 points and win by just 14 against a I-AA team
Not much else is looking up for the Warhawks as they travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium this week for another Alabama vs. SBC showdown.
This Week: at Alabama
TIE-5. Arkansas State Indians (4-6)
Last Week: Loss at Florida Atlantic
The Indians failed to snatch a road victory in Boca Raton this week after giving up 14 points in the fourth quarter to the FAU Owls.
Yet another team that was on track for seven wins just a few weeks ago is now perilously close to missing out on a bowl.
This game at home against North Texas would be a great way to close out the last season of existence for "Indian Stadium" before ushering in the school's new nickname next year.
This Week: vs. North Texas
TIE-5. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (1-6)
Last Week: Win at Middle Tennessee 34-24
A jewel on an otherwise unremarkable team, Michael Desormeaux has a few things to be proud of.
For starters, three games in the 2007 college football season have seen a quarterback run and pass for 150 yards. Desormeaux has done it twice.
Secondly, Desormeaux is now only the 24th quarterback in NCAA history to run and pass for 1,000 yards in the same year.
He also rescued the Cajuns' season from total disaster with a gutsy performance against MTSU last week. Things can only get a lot better or a lot worse this week with a visit to Miami.
This week: at Florida International
7. North Texas Mean Green (1-7)
Last Week: Lost vs. Navy 74-62
The game against Navy can be taken two ways.
Positively: The offense proved that it can pass at will when given the opportunity.
Giovanni Vizza is going to be a force next season, and Casey Fitzgerald has quietly established himself as the fourth most prolific receiver in the nation this year.
Negatively: The defense wasn't anything close to I-A caliber, and there's no help coming soon.
The Mean Green will lose five starting seniors this offseason, and their top recruits so far this year are offensive players.
This week presents an opportunity to get back on track with a solid road victory.
This Week: at Arkansas State
8. Florida International Golden Panthers (0-8)
Last Week: BYE
After a tragic loss to Arkansas State in the waning minutes, FIU has to bounce back this week against the team most likely to give them their first victory in 21 tries.
FIU will be at home with their fan(s) pulling for them—and what better way to reward the crowd than with a big W.
Optimism, grit, and drive are all on their side.
Will they take advantage?
This Week: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
North Texas 44, Arkansas State 30
UNT comes in and throws the ball—a lot—and wins a shootout. The defense knows the way to Jonesboro.
Florida Atlantic 13, Florida 49
Florida will likely use this game to find out which second-teamers can play significant roles against FSU. That's why it'll be lower scoring—and closer—than you might think.
Louisiana-Monroe 17, Alabama 51
Alabama comes back home and unloads a week's worth of frustration on the Warhawks. ULM scores twice in the fourth.
Louisiana-Lafayette 28, FIU 31
FIU finally gets over the hump at home on a last second field goal—and then parties like it's 2005.
(Tuesday) MTSU 13, Troy 38
Troy has a habit of playing to the level of their opponents, but a stern halftime talk by Larry Blakeney should put a fire in them.
The Battle for the Palladium goes to the Trojans.