CFN 2012 Final Season Rankings - Sun Belt
Posted Jan 15, 2013

Which teams had the best seasons? Here's CFN's final ranking based on who earned it on the field.

CFN 2012 Season Rankings

Sun Belt Rankings

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19 
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC

- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

The Formula's Components: 
1. Wins. - If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
2. Quality Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each win counts as 1.
3. Elite Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5. Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn't added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game counts as one.
4. Bad Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer or a loss to a FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
5. Bad Win - The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a D-IAA team. Each win counts as minus 0.25. 
6. Elite Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
7. Point Differential - Points for minus points against divided by 100. 
8. Winning Percentage - To take losses into account, winning percentage is in the mix. Total wins is the tie-breaker followed by winning percentage.

NOTE: This is based on who had the best season. This isn't a ranking of who the best teams were.

The number next to the team is the overall rank.

20. Arkansas State (10-3) 2012 CFN Score: 16.59

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 95
2011 Final Season Ranking: 26
2011 CFN Final Score: 14.04
2010 Final Season Ranking: 101
2010 CFN Score: 3.51
2009 Final Season Ranking: 95
2009 Final Score: 3.51
2008 Final Season Ranking: 64
2008 Final Score: 7.64
Key Stat: ASU finished dead last in the nation in punting.

The one season under Gus Malzahn was a strong one, getting past a 2-3 start to roll over the Sun Belt, including a 45-0 win over Middle Tennessee in the key game, winning seven straight after dropping the opener to Western Kentucky on the way to a title. The team might have lost Malzahn to Auburn, but it got by just fine without him in the bowl victory over Kent State.

44. Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4) 2012 CFN Score: 12.65

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 96
2011 Final Season Ranking: 42
2011 CFN Final Score: 11.01
2010 Final Season Ranking: 107
2010 CFN Score: -0.01 
2009 Final Season Ranking: 92
2009 Final Score: 3.77
2008 Final Season Ranking: 75
2008 Final Score: 6.18
Key Stat: ULL was 13th in the nation in sacks allowed.

Could the Ragin' Cajuns come up with a second straight big season? After closing out with four straight wins, a bowl victory over East Carolina, and a 9-4 record for the second season in a row, the answer is a resounding yes. The offense led the Sun Belt and the defense was among the best in the conference in both sacks and tackles for loss. There was a stunning loss to North Texas and a blowout loss to Oklahoma State, but ULL should've beaten Florida in Gainesville, breaking down on special teams in the final moments.

63. ULM (8-5) 2012 CFN Score: 9.23

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 107
2011 Final Season Ranking: 92
2011 CFN Final Score: 3.73
2010 Final Season Ranking: 92
2010 CFN Score: 3.28
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 104
2009 Final Season Ranking: 78
2009 Final Score: 5.54
2008 Final Season Ranking: 102
2008 Final Score: 2.93
Key Stat: ULM finished 108th in the nation against the pass.

Forgetting that the Warhawks failed to show up for the bowl game loss to Ohio, it was still the greatest season in the program's history, starting out with a thrilling overtime shocker over Arkansas and two more wild games against Auburn and Baylor. But ULM lost to the Tigers and Bears before going on a run, winning five in a row before getting blasted by Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State to get knocked out of the Sun Belt title chase.

70. Western Kentucky (7-6) 2012 CFN Score: 7.64

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 64
2011 Final Season Ranking: 67
2011 CFN Final Score: 7.55
2010 Final Season Ranking: 110
2010 CFN Score: -0.82
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 118
2009 Final Season Ranking: 120
2009 Final Score:-5.80
2008 Final Season Ranking: Not Ranked
2008 Final Score: Not Ranked
Key Stat: WKU was first in the Sun Belt in total defense, run defense, sacks and tackles for loss.

It certainly has been interesting at WKU, starting out the year 5-1, fizzling in Sun Belt play and losing five of the final seven games, losing head coach Willie Taggart to South Florida, losing to Central Michigan in the bowl, and getting Bobby Petrino to take over as a rental have all made this a hot program to keep an eye on. There were several chances to make this a big season with four of the six losses by a touchdown or less. However, there's obviously no shame in losing to Alabama. The same can't be said for losing to Florida Atlantic 37-28.

73. Middle Tennessee (8-4) 2012 CFN Score: 7.25

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 103
2011 Final Season Ranking: 113
2011 CFN Final Score: -0.82
2010 Final Season Ranking: 96
2010 CFN Score: 2.50
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 88
2009 Final Season Ranking: 41
2009 Final Score: 11.60
2008 Final Season Ranking: 70
2008 Final Score: 6.67
Key Stat: The Blue Raiders allowed just seven sacks all year.

MTSU came up with eight wins including a nice four game winning streak late in the year to get in a position to win the Sun Belt title, and then a 45-0 loss to Arkansas State meant no championship and no bowl. Losing to McNeese State to start the season wasn't any way to kick things off, but beating Georgia Tech a few weeks later made up for it. Outside of the opener, the other three losses - ULM, Mississippi State and Arkansas State - came against bowl teams.

87. Troy (5-7) 2012 CFN Score: 4.68
2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 102
2011 Final Season Ranking: 104
2011 CFN Final Score: 1.65
2010 Final Season Ranking: 56
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 100
2009 Final Season Ranking: 49
2009 Final Score: 10.95
2008 Final Season Ranking: 47
2008 Final Score: 10.86
Key Stat: The Trojans were 113th in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss.

Turnovers continue to be an issue, but the program's ineffectiveness on defense has been the bigger problem over the last several years. The offense rocked - finishing 11th in the nation - but it wasn't nearly enough in several close losses. Six of the seven losses were by a touchdown or less.

89. North Texas (4-8) 2012 CFN Score: 4.00

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 109
2011 Final Season Ranking: 88
2011 CFN Final Score: 4.47
2010 Final Season Ranking: 99
2010 CFN Score: 1.81
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 102
2009 Final Season Ranking: 110
2009 Final Score: -0.16
2008 Final Season Ranking: 116
2008 Final Score: -2.23
Key Stat: UNT led the nation with the fewest sacks allowed.

The Mean Green couldn't find a groove, failing to win two games in a row all season long. Having to play LSU and Kansas State didn't help the cause, but close losses to Troy and Western Kentucky were a problem in Sun Belt play. Getting blown away by Middle Tennessee, ULM and Arkansas State showed how far the program still has to go.

93. Texas State (4-8) 2012 CFN Score: 3.49

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 123
Key Stat: Texas State was 118th in the nation in total defense.

The first year in the FBS started out with a shocking bang, running past Houston 30-13. But Dennis Franchione's team struggled too much on defense, giving up too many big plays through the air and needing the offense to pick up the slack. A 3-3 start showed good promise, but the schedule got tougher and the Bobcats couldn't keep up. However, they gave Louisiana Tech a run in a 62-55 loss, and closed the season with a 66-28 win over New Mexico State.

103. FIU (3-9) 2012 CFN Score: 1.95

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 84
2011 Final Season Ranking: 61
2011 CFN Final Score: 8.34
2010 Final Season Ranking: 63
2010 CFN Score: 7.98
2009 Final Season Ranking: 105
2009 Final Score: 1.76
2008 Final Season Ranking: 90
2008 Final Score: 4.23
Key Stat: The Golden Panthers were 109th in the nation in sacks allowed.

Just when it seemed like FIU was going to cement itself as the superstar of the Sun Belt thanks to the return of a loaded team full of veterans, everything went wrong. The offense couldn't seem to find any consistency and the defense that was so great over the previous few years failed to come up with the big stops when needed. Gone is Mario Cristobal, who was considered one of the hot young head coaches, and in comes Ron Turner to try to turn things back around.

109. Florida Atlantic (3-9)  2012 CFN Score: 0.76

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 116
2011 Final Season Ranking: 117
2011 CFN Final Score: -4.03
2010 Final Season Ranking: 97
2010 CFN Score: 2.09
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 112
2009 Final Season Ranking: 83
2009 Final Score. 4.66
2008 Final Season Ranking: 68
2008 Final Score: 6.82
Key Stat: The defense came up with just 12 sacks. The Alfred Morris-less running game was 107th.

The first year of the Carl Pelini era started off with a bang - or at least a bip, beating Wagner 7-3. The team steadily improved and got a wee bit better by the end of the year, beating Troy and Western Kentucky and giving South Alabama a battle. Even so, the team has a long way to go on both sides of the ball, needing to find a pass rush defensively and a stronger ground game on offense.

118. South Alabama (2-11) 2012 CFN Score: -2.28

2012 CFN Preseason Ranking: 118
Key Stat: USA was 103rd in the nation in rushing.

The Jaguars struggled in their first season at the FBS level, starting out with a tough loss to UTSA, but bating Nicholls State for a little bit of life before getting walloped in several games. A double-overtime win over Florida Atlantic was a high point, and there were a few competitive battles in Sun Belt play, but losing the final six games of the season – even with a nice bowl-like road trip to Hawaii to end the year – showed how much work is left to be done.