2010 Non-BCS Conference Profiles: Sun Belt Conference

Bleacher ReportContributor IJuly 21, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 20:  Dwight Dasher #9 of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders runs past Ronnie Thornton #56 of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on December 20, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Blue Raiders defeated the Eagles 42-32.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

This is tenth in a series of conference profiles as part of BCS Know How’s season preview. Today’s conference is the Sun Belt Conference.

Conference: Sun Belt Conference (Sun Belt)

Active Since: 1976 (Football since 2001)

Current Member Schools: Arkansas State Red Wolves, Florida Atlantic Owls, Florida International Golden Panthers, Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, Louisiana Monroe Warhawks, Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, North Texas Mean Green, Troy Trojans, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. (9)

Bowl Affiliations: New Orleans Bowl, GMAC Bowl. (2)

2009 Results:

Conference Champion—Troy
Conference Runner-up—Middle Tennessee State
Overall Bowl Record: 1-1
AP All-Americans: None

2010 Outlook: Although not the strongest non-BCS conference, the Sun Belt does have a track record of very equal skill level across the entire conference.

The parity is so overwhelming that in the past five seasons, just three of the conference members have less than 19 conference wins, and that includes Western Kentucky, who has been in the league just one season.

2010 looks like another toss up, with at least six of the top teams having a legitimate shot at the conference title and berth into the Sun Belt’s best bowl tie-in, the GMAC Bowl.

Troy, whose 29 victories is most in that five-year span and have finished first each of the past four seasons, would usually be a good place to start when thinking about a potential Sun Belt champ, but the Trojans have some major kinks to work out this season.

2009 Sun Belt Player of the Year and single-season school record holder for passing yards Levi Brown will be missed by a Trojan offense that could strike at any moment, as was evidenced in last season’s GMAC Bowl where the Trojans posted nearly 600 yards of offense, including 403 from Brown.

Replacing Brown will be of the utmost concern to the Trojans, but holes on defense could also derail their chances at another conference crown.

Waiting in the wings might just be Middle Tennessee State and their explosive quarterback Dwight Dasher.

Dasher is a classic dual-threat quarterback in the mold of Dan LeFevour whose offensive prowess landed him among the top ten in the nation in total offense last season.

Dasher will have to make up for a team that was hurt deeply by graduation and departures to the pros, but that is poised to take the crown away from Troy.

Skill and potential are all around the remainder of the conference, including running backs Lance Dunbar (North Texas) and Alfred Morris (Florida Atlantic), who ranked 13th and 14th respectively in the FBS in rushing.

Parity mixed with potential around the conference could once again make the Sun Belt among the nation’s most entertaining and unpredictable conferences for another season.

2010 Heisman Hopefuls:

Middle Tennessee State QB Dwight Dasher, North Texas RB Lance Dunbar, Florida Atlantic RB Alfred Morris

BCS Know How’s 2010 Predictions:

Conference Champion—Middle Tennessee State (8-4, 7-1)
Conference Runner-up—Troy (8-4, 6-2)
Heisman Finalists: None