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Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview - Early Rankings
FIU WR T.Y. Hilton
FIU WR T.Y. Hilton
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 12, 2011


2011 Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview - Rankings For All The Sun Belt Teams Before Spring Ball Kicks In

2011 Pre-Spring Preview   

Early Rankings - Sun Belt



Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Arkansas State | Florida Atlantic | Florida International | MTSU
North Texas | Troy | UL Lafayette | UL Monroe | Western Kentucky

2011 Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview
- Sun Belt Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On

1. Florida International
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 63
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 110
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 3
2009 Final Ranking: 105
2008 Final Ranking: 90

Can FIU build on its breakthrough season? Helped by WR T.Y. Hilton's decision not to turn pro early, absolutely. The Golden Panthers should be everyone's favorites to win the Sun Belt with eight starters back on offense and seven returning on defense, but it would be nice if the offense could find more pop with QB Wesley Carroll doing more. Losing Cedrick Mack and Brad Serini off the offensive line will hurt.

2. Troy
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 56
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 100
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 49
2008 Final Ranking: 47

The defense hasn't exactly been up to Troy standards over the last few years, and there should still be problems even with seven starters returning. QB Corey Robinson should ensure a good year from the offense, but he needs to find new targets with Jerrel Jernigan and Tebiarus Gill gone. Three key starters are gone off the O line.

3. UL Monroe
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 92
2010 Record: 5-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 104
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 2-10
2009 Final Ranking: 78
2008 Final Ranking: 102

If it doesn't happen this year, it might never happen for a program that's been achingly close to being a Sun Belt player. With nine starters returning on both sides of the ball, and with a good-looking young quarterback in Kolton Browning, the offense should be among the best in the league. The defensive front should be strong. This will be the Sun Belt's most experienced team, but will it translate into more wins?

4. North Texas
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 99
2010 Record: 3-9  
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 102
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 3-9
2009 Final Ranking: 110
2008 Final Ranking: 116

UNT might have the best coach in the league in former Iowa State head man Dan McCarney, and there's a chance for a night-and-day improvement if everyone can stay healthy. The Mean Green lost 12 starters to injuries in 2010, and seven of them come back to an already veteran squad. America, get ready to know the name Lance Dunbar; he could lead the nation in rushing with McCarney sure to feed him the ball. ranking.

5. Florida Atlantic
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 97
2010 Record: 4-8
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 112
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 5-7
2009 Final Ranking: 83
2008 Final Ranking: 68

The disappointing 2010 should lead to a much stronger 2011 with seven starters returning on both sides of the ball, but the anemic offense needs to find a quarterback to replace Jeff Van Camp and targets to step in for Lester Jean and TE Rob Housler. The defense takes a huge hit at linebacker where Yourhighness Morgan has to be fantastic with Malik Eugene and Michael Lockley gone.

6. Arkansas State
2010 CFN Ranking: 101
2010 Record: 4-8
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 94
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 95
2008 Final Ranking: 64

New head coach Hugh Freeze, the team's offensive coordinator, gets his chance to try to take ASU to another level. Getting back junior-to-be QB Ryan Aplin is the first step, and with all the other skill players returning, the offense should shine if replacements can be found on the offensive front. The defensive line is strong, but losing FS M.D. Jennings will be a problem..

7. Middle Tennessee

2010 CFN Final Ranking: 96
2010 Record: 6-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 88
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 41
2008 Final Ranking: 70

This might be the year the Blue Raiders take a step back and don't contend for the Sun Belt title. Losing QB Dwight Dasher is both a minus (for his playmaking) and a plus (for his turnovers), but the rest of the offense should be decent. Losing just about everyone on defense will mean a losing season without some shocking performances.

8. Western Kentucky
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 110  
2010 Record: 2-10
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 118
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 1-11
2009 Final Ranking: 120
2008 Final Ranking: Not Ranked
2008 Final Score: Not Ranked

Bobby Rainey left, Bobby Rainey right, Bobby Rainey up the middle. The Willie Taggart offense should be better with QB Kawaun Jakes more experienced and with eight starters returning ... led by Rainey, one of the nation's top running backs. the defense needs new linebackers, but eight starters return.

9. UL Lafayette
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 107
2010 Record: 3-9
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 116
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 2-10
2009 Final Ranking: 92
2008 Final Ranking: 75

In a year of transition, ULL needs to hope new head coach Mark Hudspeth can get his offense working right away after coming in from Mississippi State. He has a nice quarterback in Chris Masson to work with, but the offensive line has been gutted with three starters gone and the top receivers needing to be replaced.  

Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Arkansas State | Florida Atlantic | Florida International | MTSU
North Texas | Troy | UL Lafayette | UL Monroe | Western Kentucky

2011 Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview
- Sun Belt Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On