Sun Belt Autopsy: Slipping into a coma
The prognosis for the Sun Belt took a nosedive in Week 2, with few teams rising to the challenge. Can the conference recover?
Hurricane Irma canceled two Sun Belt battles with the Top 25 in Week 2, leaving the conference with an abbreviated slate. Rather than take care of business, the Sun Belt was mostly taken to the woodshed, begging the question: Has the Sun Belt taken a turn for the worse?
Last season, the Sun Belt didn’t lose to an FCS opponent until Week 4 (UCA over Arkansas State). This year, the conference has already endured two humiliating beatings from the FCS. Yes, the FCS is surprisingly stout, already notching 6 wins over G5 and P5 opponents. Still, it appears that the momentum the conference was gathering at the end of 2016 has yet to make its presence known in 2017.
This could be a loooooooooong season.
11 Oklahoma State Cowboys 44, South Alabama Jaguars 7
Mason Rudolph was Bane on Friday Night
Friday night would have been good time for South Alabama to shine, but it was Mason Rudolph and his sturdy WR Jame Washington that stole the spotlight in Mobile, completely overmatching the Jaguars on their home turf. The Jag offensive line collapsed like a house of Cards Against Humanity against the Cowboy pass rush, taking starting QB Cole Garvin out of the game early. Backup QB Dallas Davis found brief moments of success, throwing for 126 yards and a score. But Rudolph broke the Jags’ back with 335 yards and 3 TDs. Ouch.
Texas State Bobcats 3, Colorado Buffalos 37
Bobcats scratched out a decent half, at least
At halftime, the score was a respectable 14-0. But the Bobcats’ only offense was a field goal midway in the third quarter, and Colorado coasted to an easy victory. The Buffalo’ defense, which was supposed to be a bit of a project, looked awesome against Texas State, forcing a pair of turnovers and collecting a couple of sacks. Once again, starting QB Damion Williams struggled, completing only 6 of 16 passes for 95 yards and a pick. Freshman QB Willie Jones made an appearance. Maybe we see more of him versus Appalachian State next week?
16 Miami Hurricanes 0, Arkansas State Red Wolves 0
we’ll never know
Hurricane Irma knocked this game right off the damn schedule, leaving Red Wolves fans dismayed at Miami moved on with preparing for Florida State. There are no plans to reschedule.
Savannah State Tigers 7, Appalachian State Mountaineers 54
Lamb was the Lion that Ate the Tiger on Saturday
The Mountaineers’ offense was stifled by the Georgia defense in Week One, but it feasted on FCS Savannah State on Saturday, with QB Taylor Lamb padding his resume with 5 TD tosses and 327 yards. Senior RB Terrance Upshaw (5-10 210) notched 103 yards and a score, and Appalachian State has its first victory of the season.
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 42, Tulsa Golden Hurricane 66
Defense was optional
Just as it did against Southeast Louisiana in Week 1, the Cajuns simply opted out of playing defense and chose to engage in an offensive slugfest with the Golden Hurricane. It wasn’t a bad idea – until the third quarter, when Tulsa piled on three TDs. Once again, Louisiana’s once formidable rush defense was absent, allowing 424 yards on the ground, including 262 yards and three scores to senior RB D’Angelo Brewer (5-9 190). It wasn’t a total bust for the Cajuns. QB Jordan Davis was productive with 309 yards and a pair of TD strikes, and freshman RB Trey Ragas appears to be the heir apparent to Elijah McGuire, tallying 130 yards and a score.
New Hampshire Wildcats 22, Georgia Southern Eagles 12
Have the Eagles hit rock bottom?
Consider this: seven quarters of football passed in 2017 before the Eagles managed to score its first offensive touchdown (a five yard 4th quarter punch in from RB L.A. Rambsy). It’s misery and bedlam in Statesboro, whose home team entered the season in rebuild-mode, but are now busy putting out a dumpster fire. Freshman QB Shai Werts, who recorded his first 100 game on the ground, attempted 22 passes and completed half. In all, the Eagles managed 326 yards of mostly harmless offense to a New Hampshire team that generated only 274 yards. Tyson Summers and the Eagles take the week off before facing Indiana on the 23rd.
Alabama State Hornets 7, Troy Trojans 34
MegaChunn Returns To Burn Alabama St
Senior RB Jordan Chunn (6-1 235) piled up three touchdowns on the hapless Hornets, and QB Brandon Silvers racked up 345 yards as the Trojans cruised to a business-like win on Saturday. Neal Brown drives the bus to Las Cruces next week to face a pretty hot New Mexico State offense.
ULM Warhawks 0, 10 Florida State 0
HurricanE Irma Mercy Rules the Warhawks and Seminoles
The Seminoles attempted to wait out the storm, but canceled its tilt with ULM on Thursday. There does not appear to be much of an effort to reschedule.
UNLV Rebels 44, Idaho Vandals 16
The Vandals Miss On messing up the Mountain West
UNLV lost to Howard at home 43-40 in Week 1, and the Rebels seemed headed for a downward spiral. Nothing that a trip to Moscow, Idaho couldn’t cure! Senior QB Matt Linehan tallied a score via his arm and his legs, but the Rebels had little problem circumnavigating the Vandals rush defense. The awesomely monikered RB Lexington Thomas (5-9 170) rolled Idaho with 190 yards and three trips to the end zone. It doesn’t get easier for Paul Petrino, who must visit Western Michigan next week.
New Mexico State Aggies 30, New Mexico Lobos 28
The Aggies Rule the State for the 2nd Consecutive year
The Aggies took a foot off the gas in the 4th quarter, allowing the Lobos to score 23 unanswered points. Fortunately, New Mexico State had put up enough offensive in the first three frames to stave off what would have been a disheartening comeback. QB Tyler Rogers had another monster day of statistics, tacking on 403 yards and 4 TDs to his LinkedIn page. Larry Rose III chipped in 99 yards to keep the Lobo linebackers busy. Troy versus New Mexico State is shaping up to be a sizzling hot early conference battle in Week 3.
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.