It's Week Three and the Last of the Sunbelt Unbeatens Has Fallen

Tobi WritesAnalyst ISeptember 23, 2009

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Josh Harrison #33 of the University of Louisiana Lafayette is tackled by members of the Louisiana State University defense on September 2, 2006 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.    (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Previously unbeaten Sunbelt squad UL Lafayette lost this week. This means there will once again be no chance of a cinderella Sunbelt school sneaking into a BCS bowl.

Sure, technically not a suprise, but still worth reporting.

ULL was shut down 31-3 by No. 9 LSU.  Really, in spite of the score, they did not acquit themselves too badly.   Their defense looks fairly strong and has me rethinking the Kansas State game a bit. 

We will see how the Ragin Cajuns handle an angry Nebraska squad this week.  If they manage to keep Nebraska in the 24-35 range, I think you have to say that they may be another darkhorse in the race for the sunbelt title just off the strength of their defense.

Troy looked strong for the first time all season in beating what should be an improved UAB team 27-14.  Call them the league favorite but a very marginal favorite at this point.

Rutgers' defense destroyed Florida International. Rutgers had a 23-0 lead in the fourth quarter before they called off the dogs. FIU made the final score look respectable, but they were never in the game.

I was quite high on FIU as a darkhorse to win the title after their strong showing vs. Alabama, but this game showed me the team is too inconsistent to win enough games to take the conference.

Middle Tennessee State beat Maryland 32-31 in Maryland in a back and forth game.  I think of all the Sunbelt teams reviewers liked in the preseason, MTSU has come the closest to meeting expectations.  They are probably the third or fourth most talented team in the sunbelt and they seem to play pretty well every week.

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Most reviewers picked them to finish fourth, but I think this is a down year for the traditional sunbelt powers and MTSU may end up second or third if injuries don't hit.

FAU hung around with South Carolina until half time.  They were down by one, 17-16, and then they suffered a depth blowout vs. a middle of the pack SEC team.  Really it was a decent effort, but I am not liking what I am seeing from this FAU squad.  I think they will lose some games they shouldn't this year.

UL monroe got smoked by a decent Arizona State team 38-14.  They were never in this game and probably won't be in the conference race either.

No. 4 Alabama woke up after their coaching staff and fans tore them a new one all week over sleepwalking vs. FIU.  They were flawless and destroyed UNT, which was playing their backup QB in his first collegiate start.  UNT was also missing their starting left tackle and one of their two best defensive tackles.

Other than the fact that UNT made $750K from that game and backup QB Nathan Tune did engineer a TD drive, I don't think there is much to learn from that game.  It will be interesting to see how UNT fares this week against MTSU. 

If QB Tune plays, UNT will be in it, but will likely fall a bit short.  If Riley Dodge is healthy enough to play, UNT could pull the upset.

Finally everyone in the Sunbelt's little brother Western Kentucky lost again, this time to an FCS school. Central Arkansas beat WKU 28-7.

Still, for fans of college football there was no shame in that loss.  Central Arkansas is one of the tougher FCS schools out there.  Central Arkansas almost beat Hawaii at home in their opener.  Hawaii almost never loses at home.

WKU played UCA tough until half time and although they didn't score after the half, their defense didn't collapse either.  UCA would probably finish anywhere from fourth to sixth if they played in the sunbelt.

If the Hilltoppers keep working hard and get their offense up to 20 points a game, they will win as many as three conference games this year.  They are a MUCH, much better team than UNT was last season.  They are making progress.


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