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2013 CFN Final Sun Belt Rankings & Roundup

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 13, 2014


2013 Sun Belt Fearless Predictions, Game Stories, Game of the Week, Player of the Week, Roundup & Standings

CFN 2013 Final Season Rankings | The Top Ten
11 to 25 | 26 to 50 | 51 to 75 | 76 to 100 | Bottom 25
By Conference ACC | AAC | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA
Independents | MAC | M-West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt

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.

Remember, these rankings are based on how good the seasons were overall, and NOT based on how good the team might have been. Number next to team is the final overall season ranking.

47. Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4)
2013 CFN Season Score: 11.89
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 101
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 44

The opening day blowout loss to Arkansas dragged down the overall ranking a bit, but the Ragin’ Cajuns made up for it by rolling through the first part of the Sun Belt schedule with dominant wins over Texas State, WJU and Arkansas State on the way to the New Orleans Bowl. The season could’ve ended with a thud after losing to ULM and getting blown away by South Alabama, but the bowl win over Tulane made it a third straight 9-4 season and showed staying power for the program.

61. Arkansas State (8-5)
2013 CFN Season Score: 9.76
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 102
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 20

From the coaches to the main players from a loaded 2012 season, this was supposed to be a gut job, but Bryan Harsin came up with a great year, finished off with a thrilling GoDaddy Bowl win over Ball State. After a rocky start, with a 31-7 loss to Memphis along the way, the Red Wolves won four in a road and five of their last six. The Ball State win was a huge boost –providing an extra two points – but there were only two wins over the truly sad to go along with a ranking-dragging opener against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Five of the games were decided by seven points or fewer.

73. South Alabama (6-6)
2013 CFN Season Score: 8.26
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 117
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 118

One of the pleasant surprises of the 2013 season, the Jaguars managed to put together six wins thanks to a three game willing streak to close out the regular season. There wasn’t a bowl game at the end of the rainbow, but with a 30-8 blowout win over Louisiana-Lafayette, and victories over Tulane and WKU, there were some major positives. The season could’ve been a whole bunch better, with three losses (Southern Utah, Arkansas State and Troy) by one loss each, a 33-31 loss to Texas State, and a seven point loss to Tennessee on the road.

80. ULM (6-6)
2013 CFN Season Score: 6.55
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 84
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 63

It wasn’t as good a year as 2012, and there were some ugly blowout losses – with all six losses coming by 17 points or more – but six wins is still isn’t bad for the program that had to face Oklahoma and Baylor. Beating Wake Forest chalked up a victory over a BCS program, and there wasn’t a loss to anyone who finished with a losing record. Of course, closing out with a rivalry win over Louisiana-Lafayette was nice no matter what – making up for the lack of a bowl invite.

82. Troy (6-6)
2013 CFN Season Score: 5.53
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 95
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 87

The biggest disappointment was missing out on a bowl game after finishing with six wins. Granted, there were some bad wins over UAB, Georgia State and Savannah State on the slate, but the Trojans and their effective passing game came up with big wins over South Alabama and WKU, too. The offense couldn’t save a defense that struggled in losses to ULM and Louisiana-Lafayette, but overall it was a good year after a few bad ones for the former Sun Belt powerhouse.

84. Texas State (6-6)
2013 CFN Season Score: 5.09
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 110
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 93

A quirky team, the Bobcats didn’t show off much offense, but they did enough to beat some awful teams – and get by Wyoming and South Alabama – to get up to six wins. For a program trying to find its footing, that’s not bad, no matter what. While Dennis Franchione’s team missed out on a bowl game, and closing out with three straight losses was a major disappointment, it was still a better season than expected.

125. Georgia State (0-12)
2013 CFN Season Score: -6.40
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 125
2012 CFN Season Ranking: Not Ranked

The Panthers got better as the year went on, and played a few tough games, but losses to Samford, UT-Chattanooga and Jacksonville State early on were season killers. Close didn’t count late in close losses to Texas State and Arkansas State, but the offense started to work better.

Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year
RB Antonio Andrews, WKU – No one else in the Sun Belt hit the 1,000-yard mark, but Andrews blew it away cranking out 1,730 yards with 16 scores as the key to the somewhat erratic, but dangerous Hilltopper offense. Not just a runner, one of the nation’s best all-around backs also caught 41 passes and was once again dangerous as a kick and punt returner. He did it everything for the WKU attack.

Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year
LB Xavius Boyd, WKU – Andrew Jackson came into the season as the team’s headlining defensive star, and he was terrific making 95 tackles as a tone-setting leader for the run defense, but Boyd had the stronger all-around season with 103 stops – tying for the conference lead in solo tackles – while also cranking out 7.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. While he did most of his best work over the first half of the season, he was a playmaker in Sun Belt play, too, with ten tackles in the win over ULM and nine in the season finale against Arkansas State.

3 Biggest Surprises
1. South Alabama became a player. It’s still going to take a little while for head coach Joey Jones to get the program where he wants it, but with a three game winning streak to close out the regular season, he got the Jaguars to six wins – it could’ve been even better. Of USA’s six losses, five were by a touchdown or less with a 42-14 loss to Navy the only blowout. The offense was fantastic, the defense found a groove, and now this might be a team to watch out for in 2014.
2. Seven of the eight teams were bowl eligible. Georgia State battled hard in a slightly-better-than-it-looked 0-12 season, but everyone else in the even conference got to six wins or better. It might not have been the most thrilling of conference races with ULL and Arkansas State taking control, but four teams finished 4-3 and Texas State had a nice 6-6 year despite going 2-5 in Sun Belt play.
3. Western Kentucky 19, Navy 7. Just when it seemed like the error-prone Hilltoppers were in trouble - turning the ball over at an alarming rate early on and losing to Tennessee and South Alabama – the defense pitched a gem against a Navy team that beat Indiana to start the 2-0 season and helped turn the season around.

to 3 Biggest Disappointments
1. The finishing kick. Louisiana-Lafayette beat Arkansas State on October 22nd and was all but assured of a bowl bid in early November at 8-2. The Ragin’ Cajuns coasted over the final two games, losing to rival ULM and getting blown away by South Alabama to close things out. Meanwhile, Arkansas State – who was on top of the Sun Belt standings along with ULL - lost its regular season finale against WKU.
2. ULM. After a thrilling 2012, closed out with a crashing thud of a bowl loss, ULM came into the season with high hopes as a possible Sun Belt title contender. After beating Wake Forest on the road for a 2-1 start, everything appeared to be going the right direction, but blowout losses to WKU, Arkansas State and South Alabama – thanks to an inconsistent offense – ruined the hopes. A 6-6 finish and a win over ULL to close things out were good, but it wasn’t enough to go bowling.
3. Arkansas State’s 3-4 start. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Red Wolves, and it was asking too much to get the Gus Malzahn/Hugh Freeze performance out of Bryan Harsin. While going 7-5 was good, and getting a bowl bid to face Ball State in the GoDaddy.com was great, the 31-7 loss to Memphis puzzling in hindsight and the blowout loss to Louisiana-Lafayette made the Sun Belt title chase a rough one. It’s Arkansas State, so of course Harsin was done after one year, taking over the Boise State job.

Best Sun Belt Game of the Season
Oct. 26. Texas State 33, South Alabama 31
Texas State kicker Jason Dann nailed his fourth field goal of the game with four seconds to play to win a wild game. The Bobcats got up 14-0, but South Alabama fought back with Ross Metheny running for a short score in the third to pull within seven before the crazy fourth quarter. Metheny threw three touchdown passes in the final frame with his second scoring strike to Danny Woodson coming with 1:32 to play on the way to a 31-30 lead. Despite being penalized a few times, the Bobcats managed to get within field goal range on a 51-yard Tyler Jones pass to Benjamin Ijah on 4th and 24 in the final moments, leading to the Dann field goal.

Coach of the Year
1) Joey Jones, South Alabama – His program was rebuilding, but he was able to get six wins with the team ending strong.
2) Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette – While the last few games might not have worked out well, the Ragin’ Cajuns did what they needed to do to get to a bowl game and win the Sun Belt title.
3) Bobby Petrino, WKU – The Hilltoppers turned it over too much, and the 8-4 record might not have been quite as good as expected, but his team still came up with eight wins and fought through the issues for a decent year.

Grading the Sun Belt
Arkansas State: B+ … After a slow start and an adjustment period, the Red Wolves caught fire and ripped through November before closing out with a loss to WKU. It might not have been pretty, but they did end up sharing a piece of the Sun Belt title.

Georgia State: D … If it’s possible to have a not-that-bad 0-12, Georgia State did it battling hard in losses to Troy, Texas State and Arkansas State. The Panthers never caught a break.

Louisiana-Lafayette: B+ … Even with losses in the final two games, the Ragin’ Cajuns got the job done after starting out the year with road losses to Arkansas and Kansas State. The offense found its stride and the defense came up with a brilliant game when it had to against Arkansas State.

South Alabama: B+ … Considering there wasn’t too much expected out of the Jaguars, and after starting out the year 3-6, closing out with a three game winning streak with wins over ULM and Louisiana-Lafayette made the season a rousing success.

Texas State: B- … The only reason the grade isn’t better is because of the finishing kick. At 6-3, the Bobcats had a great shot at going bowling, but they lost their last three games as the defense went bye-bye.

Troy: B- … It was a fun start to the year as Corey Robinson started out red hot, but the Trojans were too streaky losing three straight, winning three straight and losing three again before finishing up with a win over Texas State.

ULM: C+ … The 6-6 record wasn’t too bad considering the Warhawks won the season finale against rival ULL, but the offense fell flat far too often, scoring 14 points or fewer in all six defeats.

WKU: B … The loss to Tennessee was embarrassing and the gaffe to Troy was a problem for the Sun Belt race, but the Hilltoppers close out with four straight wins including a nice victory over Arkansas State to get to eight wins. The grade would’ve been higher if WKU had been better than 4-3 in conference play.


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