Sun Belt Week 7 Expanded Preview Blog
Posted Oct 8, 2008

The big storylines and overviews for all the Sun Belt games.

Sun Belt Storylines Blog

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CFN Writers
ACC By Adam Kurkjian; Big East By J.P. Girouard; Big 10 By Tony Castricone; Big 12 By Sean Martin; Conference USA By Greg Vacek; Independents By Adam Nettina; MAC By Adam Nittina; Mountain West By Jim Riffel; Pac 10 By Dan Greenspan; SEC By Russ Mitchell; SunBelt By John Martello; WAC By Jon Tavares

TROY (2-2) @ FLORIDA ATLANTIC  (1-4)  8:00

Troy is coming off a 55-24 loss to Oklahoma State last week to even up the Trojan’s record on the season.  This week, Troy continues conference play against Florida Atlantic in a nationally televised contest in Fort Lauderdale.  With a win, the Trojans would become a frontrunner for the conference championship with only two remaining conference road games after this week.

Florida Atlantic is coming off a dreadful loss to Middle Tennessee State in which the Owls lost on a 32 yard pass as time expired after leading the entire game.  This week, the Owls return home for only their second home game this season.  With a win, FAU will even their conference record to 1-1, and will remain in contention for the New Orleans Bowl.  A loss for the Owls this week will put them in a deep hole to repeat as conference champions.

Troy’s defense has uncharacteristically given up 83 points in their last two games.  “Our corner play was horrendous and it’s starting to become a place where everyone is going to attack us” said Head Coach Larry Blakeney.  The Trojans are well aware how important this game was last year in terms of winning the conference. “Our number one goal is to win our conference-period” Blakeney said. “We’ve got to draw from the loss last year” he said.

Florida Atlantic has been a shadow of its former self offensively.  The Owls have scored only 16 points in the last three losses. Owl Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger said of this week’s game, “It will be a high-scoring game as it was a year ago”.  Clearly, Coach Schnellenberger hasn’t lost confidence in his team, and he feels good about the team’s spirits for this week’s game.

Troy has to… play pass defense. Troy has the ability to score points, but needs to slow down the Owl offense to win this game.

Florida Atlantic has to… score points.  Other than the UAB game, the Owls have been dismal offensively.  The Owl defense has steadily improved this season, but will need help from the offense to beat Troy.

Keep an eye on… Owl QB Rusty Smith.  He has under-performed this year, but is still capable. Smith has an opportunity to have a big game against the Troy corners if he has time to throw.

The number to know: 612.  That’s how many yards the Trojan defense gave up to Oklahoma State.  The cowboys are good offensively, but that number is way too high and is an ominous statistic going into this week.

And the winner is… Troy 35  FAU 28

Louisiana, Lafayette (2-3) @ North Texas (0-5)  7:00

Louisiana, Lafayette got a conference road victory against their rival UL, Monroe last week in Monroe, Louisiana.  This week the Cajuns stay on the road to play North Texas in Denton in another important conference game.  With a win, the Cajuns would keep pace with the leaders of the conference, and remain undefeated in conference play.

North Texas remains home this week as they look for their first win of the season in a conference game.  Last week, the Mean Green lost 42-10 to Florida International, and they are in need of a win this week to contend in conference.  The Mean Green are ranked dead last this season in scoring defense.

Louisiana, Lafayette is ranked 1st in the nation in rushing offense and average 331 yards per game on the ground.  In turn, they are ranked 118th in rushing defense this season with only Louisiana, Monroe ranked behind them. 

North Texas has had little by the way of defense this season. However, Giovanni Vizza completed 32-46 passes for 274 yards against Florida International, and the Mean Green complied 428 yards total offense in the loss to FIU.

UL Lafayette has to run the ball of course.  This is what the Cajuns do well, and if they are able to run the ball this week, they will win the game.

North Texas has to… stop the run of course.  It’s a tall order, but if North Texas can slow the run of Louisiana, Lafayette, they have a good chance to win this game.  North Texas isn’t good enough offensively to get into a track meet with UL, Lafayette, but the Mean Green is good enough to score some points on the Cajuns and have a chance if the defense comes through.

Keep an eye on… Louisiana, Lafayette RB Tyrell Fenroy.  Fenroy was named the Walter Camp (FBS) Offensive Player of the Week (Oct 4th) for a 297 yard rushing performance on only 14 carries against UL, Monroe.

The number to know: 30.  That’s how many yards Fenroy needs to break the Sun Belt Conference rushing record.

And the winner is… Louisiana, Lafayette 49  North Texas 28

Louisiana, Monroe (1-4) at Arkansas State (3-2)

Louisiana, Monroe is coming off a 44-35 loss to their in-state and conference rival UL, Lafayette.  This week, the Warhawks look to recover from that stinging loss with a conference road game against the Red Wolves in Jonesboro.  The Warhawks are looking for their first conference win this week after starting 0-1 in conference play.

Arkansas State is returning home after a non-conference loss at Memphis 29-17.  This week, the Red Wolves look to stay on top of the conference race with a game against another conference opponent.  After this week’s game, the Red Wolves have only one remaining home game this season- magnifying the importance of the game against the Warhawks.

Louisiana, Monroe has had a difficult season, but has played well enough to have a better record this season.  Warhawk Head Coach Charlie Weatherbie believes that his team still has a chance to win the conference. “I really believe that this conference’s champion will have one loss” he said.  “We have the team to do it”.

Arkansas State has a winning record, but they also have had mistakes costing them games this season. “We just shot ourselves in the foot several times with penalties and turnovers” said Red Wolves Head Coach Steve Roberts about the Memphis game.  Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard has been solid for the Warhawks this season with 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Louisiana, Monroe has to… stop the run.  The Warhawk defense is ranked dead last in rushing defense at 119th in the FBS. To make matters worse, this week’s opponent- the Arkansas State is ranked 11th in the FBS in rushing offense and the Warhawks will get a large dose of the run again this week.

Arkansas State has to… avoid mistakes and turnovers. In games this year where Corey Leonard throws an interception the Red Wolves are 0-2.  In games this season where Corey Leonard doesn’t throw an interception, the Red Wolves are 3-0.

Keep an eye on… the UL Monroe offensive line. They have given up 14 sacks this year already matching their total for all of last season.

The number to know: 485.  That’s how many yards per game that the Warhawks are giving up.

And the winner is…  Arkansas State 28   Louisiana, Monroe 24


Middle Tennessee State goes on the road after last week’s dramatic last-second win over Florida Atlantic.  MTSU QB Joe Craddock’s game winning 32 yard completion as time expired defeated FAU in a conference game.  This week, MTSU looks to even their conference at 2-2 and stay in contention for the conference championship.

Florida International attempts to remain undefeated in conference play this week after last week’s 42-10 victory over North Texas.  FIU has shown that it can win on the road this season, and gets the opportunity to keep pace this week for the conference lead.  FIU has scored 77 points in their last two games, after scoring 19 total points in their first three games.

Middle Tennessee has struggled running the ball Phillip Tanner is the Blue Raider’s leading rusher with 191 yards on 69 carries.  The good news is MSTU QB Joe Craddock has been very good with 1344 passing yards and 7 touchdowns through the air.  MTSU Head Coach Rick Stockstill was happy with his defense and also stated he is “fired up”, and said after last week’s dramatic win, “I hope people realize that this team is going to fight you for 60 minutes”.

Florida International Head Coach Mario Cristobal is pleased with his teams play and said “we’re young and still have a long way to go, but we’re building”. “we’re getting better, one game at a time” said Cristobal.  The Panthers are a young team, and has been at times mistake prone, but they have shown that they can make plays when they need them to win.

Middle Tennessee has to… play defense.  It appears that the running game isn’t going to beat anyone, or keep opposing offenses off of the field.  The MTSU defense has been solid this season, and has kept the Blue Raiders in every game this season. If the MTSU offense can score some points, they have a great chance to win on the road this week.

Florida International has to… score points.  They were able to move the ball a bit against one of the worst defenses in the country last week, but they are facing a much more difficult defense this week.  The Panthers must get the ball into the endzone against MTSU, and keep mistakes and turnovers to a minimum to win.

Keep an eye on… Joe Craddock.  He has been very reliable this year, and very good in clutch situations. He will be the most dynamic player on the field this week against FIU.

The number to know: 687.  That is how many yards passing FIU has through the air this season through five games.

And the winner is… MTSU 21  FIU 20