1. Get your licks in on the Ragin' Cajuns now, Sun Belt.
After years of dominance via excellent quarterback play and a couple of monstrous defensive linemen, Mark Hudspeth has a rebuilding job on his hands in Lafayette. We've seen some rough starts to the season from ULL before, and getting blown out by a good Louisiana Tech team in Ruston isn't necessarily as shocking as last year's blowout was. But getting handled by a mediocre to decent Akron team is more worrying from a Ragin' Cajuns perspective. This isn't a team that looks like 8-9 win material.
Granted, a bad year in Lafayette is still better than a normal season in Atlanta, Las Cruces, or Moscow, but their defense suddenly looks vulnerable and the quarterback situation is unsettled. All of a sudden, the Ragin' Cajuns could be vulnerable to losses against mid-tier teams in the Sun Belt--namely ULM, South Alabama, and possibly even Texas State. If the Bobcats can get back to their traditional bread and butter rushing attack and break their hex against the Cajuns in Lafayette next week, then ULL might be lucky to make a bowl this year.
Then again, Mark Hudspeth is probably sacrificing a giant mutant crawfish as we speak for an étouffée that will morph his entire team into 8 feet tall swamp beasts that will inevitably finish 9-3. Geaux Cajuns.
2. Liberty made a statement to Karl Benson
Despite pouring tons of money into their athletic programs for a very public courting of the Sun Belt, conference commissioner Karl Benson gave the Flames the "don't call us, we'll call you" treatment four different times. As Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, New Mexico State, and Idaho can attest, results from those expansions varied.
The first school to pass up Liberty for a Sun Belt invite was Georgia State, who transitioned from affiliate to full member in 2012 after starting up football from scratch. So far, the gridiron experiment in Atlanta has been a disaster. Two wins in 28 games with their only FBS win coming against equally hapless New Mexico State certainly isn't what Benson had in mind.
Now, a year after upsetting Appalachian State in their first FBS (albeit transitional) season, Liberty claimed another Sun Belt scalp in those same Georgia State Panthers. Ouch. It's hard to know whether the 'Belt is regretting passing up all that Jerry Falwell money, but this loss certainly won't help the conference's perception.
At least Liberty can't make Karl Benson's life any more miserable right?
Well, about that. This happened last season.
But surely that can't happen this season righ---oh dear god.
QUICK KARL JUST THROW LIBERTY A NICE JUICY FULL MEMBERSHIP STEAK BEFORE THEY DEVOUR US ALL.
3. We still know little about the middle of the conference
The 'Belt has separated itself into three disparate tiers as many expected at the start of the season, although a few teams have been more disappointing than expected. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State look great. Arkansas State will probably(?) be a solid contender once Knighten's back. Georgia State, New Mexico State, and Idaho will occupy the cellar once again.
But what about everybody else? ULL, as we already mentioned, looks vulnerable. ULM's still a bit of an unknown after playing two SEC powers, the reigning Sun Belt champ, and one of the worst teams in FCS. Their offense has shown signs of life, but their defense might not be the powerful unit it once was. Texas State's defense is atrocious, but there are likely few teams in the Sun Belt that can prevent the Bobcat offense from getting into a shootout unless Tyler Jones somehow shatters into a thousand pieces.
South Alabama appears to have the defensive horses to at least strangle other mediocre teams, such as Troy, into submission, but their run game is somewhat inconsistent and turnovers are a problem on offense. The Trojans still have issues with creating big plays on offense, but an improved defense might be enough to help them crawl out of the cellar, if just barely.
Figuring out that 4th bowl spot and any secondary bowl ties (*derisive laugh*) for the Sun Belt at the end of the season is going to be a mess.