In a season where underdogs have been knocking off goliaths for two weeks straight, we’d like to welcome our Power-Five friends as they decide it’s maybe time to start taking the competition seriously, and check in on what to expect.
Neal Brown is making his mark
Former Troy coach Larry Blakeney saw the program from D-II, to what was then I-AA, and finally to their current FBS home in the Sun Belt. He was on the sideline for 23 seasons, and after retiring at the end of the 2014 season, we are pleased to see Troy is still serious about its future, landing a great hire with new coach Neal Brown.
The Trojans lost to Clemson this week, 30-24, but this was a Tigers team coming in as #2 in the nation against the perceived 4th string of Alabama football. The Trojans hit them right in the mouth, outrushing the Tigers 141-122, and holding their own in the air, with 245 yards to Clemson’s 292. The score was 13-10 at halftime, and a scoreless third quarter made for an exciting finish. Troy looks to be for real this year, and will be intimidating when conference play starts. And they have Neal Brown to thank.
Georgia Southern isn’t going anywhere
The Eagles struck fear into the hearts of every opponent last season, going 9-4 including an OT loss to Georgia. For this they could thank high-flying coach Willie Fritz, who left in the offseason for Tulane.
And it appears Georgia Southern hasn’t missed a step in the off-season as they continue to dominate opponents. Georgia Southern easily defeated an FCS opponent in week one but thrashed a South Alabama team that had knocked off Mississippi State a week ago. New coach Tyson Summers spent the last two seasons as a Defensive Coordinator for UCF and Colorado State, but his team has had no trouble scoring points, and looks to once again challenge for the conference crown.
New Mexico State is making the most of a bad situation
We predicted NMSU would have a better-than-average season this year, and then their best player went down with an injury before the first game was even played. After a week one loss to UTEP, this season seemed like it’d be business-as-usual again for the Aggies, but week two saw them regroup and knock off in-state rival New Mexico (lifetime record: 70-32-5 in UNM’s favor). A win over a Mountain West program, even a middling one like the Lobos, is huge for not just NMSU’s program but their fans, as the team faces an uncertain future in a post-Sun Belt world.
It’ll still be a long season for the Aggies, as they take on a vulnerable Kentucky squad next week and the aforementioned Trojans the week after. But if they can beat this Lobos team with their best player on the sidelines, coach Doug Martin might just be their savior after all.