Going into Saturday we were expecting a quiet day of football as half of the league would be sitting at home enjoying bye weeks.
Boy, were we wrong.
From Troy’s shocking upset, to the shootout in Funroe, and to South Alabama hanging tough in Ruston. Saturday night flat out had it all.
After some time to digest everything that was witnessed on Saturday, here are the key storylines as we wrap up the first month of the season.
Troy makes a statement
The Sun Belt entered the weekend without a big non-conference win and Troy appeared to let their best chance slip away when they fell to Boise State on the blue turf in week one. With the road trip to LSU looming, not much was expected.
I slept on Neal Brown.
The young head coach picked up the biggest win of his career and he is going to be someone people will be talking about all over the college football this week. The Trojans led the entire way in Death Valley as they collected 363 total yards against a strong LSU defense.
Jordan Chunn was the best player on the field as the senior tailback collected 191 rushing yards on 30 carries with one score. The bruising tailback has been playing outstanding football the last three weeks and he has been the best back in the Sun Belt in the first month of the season.
There was no doubt that Troy was the best team on the field on Saturday as Brown has done an incredible job since taking over the program. The Trojans will enter conference play and they’ll be a heavy favorite in each game before they close the season with Arkansas State in Jonesboro on the first Saturday in December.
Shootout in Monroe
Who would’ve seen this coming? The best Sun Belt game of the season happened in Malone Stadium as the Chants and the Warhawks combined for 94 points in Saturday’s shootout.
Entering the game, Coastal had one of the worst passing games in the country as interim head coach Jamey Chadwell had been desperately searching for answers by playing three players in the first three games. However, senior Tyler Keane stepped up big time as he threw for 329 yards with four touchdowns and a solid 10.6 yards per attempt average. Malcolm Williams was the star of the night as he had nine receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, ULM was very fortunate to put points on the board as sophomore quarterback Caleb Evans only collected 108 total yards. The Warhawks protected the football and produced three takeaways. ULM had two non-offensive touchdowns and were able to find just enough explosive plays to get the victory.
Matt Viator’s squad heads to San Marcos next and they’ll have an excellent shot to begin Sun Belt play 3-0.
Blown opportunity by the Aggies
NMSU headed on the road to face an Arkansas team that was reeling after a brutal overtime loss to Texas A&M. The chance was there for the Aggies to pull off an upset.
Tyler Rogers would throw 344 yards but the run game was totally shut down by the Arkansas front seven. The Hogs dominated the time of possession battle and it was the first disappointing performance by NMSU this season.
Rogers continues to be one of the best Group of Five quarterbacks in 2017 but the schedule now becomes brutal as NMSU looks to go bowling in their final season in the Fun Belt. The Aggies head to Boone this weekend before traveling to Statesboro next week in what will be a near must win.