We just finished week one of Sun Belt conference football and it wasn’t a great outing for the league. Outside of Arkansas State, both Appalachian State and Troy struggled in their road performances as the conference was not able to obtain a signature win. Then in the FCS match-ups, the league suffered an upset and were in some very unexpected close contests. Now it’s time to reassess the rankings and see where each team stands going into week two.
1.) Appalachian State Mountaineers (0-1, lost at Georgia 31-10)
Last Week: 1
The Mountaineers headed to Athens and got hammered as they entered the fourth quarter trailing by 31. Penalties were a huge issue for Scott Satterfield’s club as the Mountaineers were flagged 11 times for 105 yards. App State was able to win the turnover battle, but could never get Jalin Moore going as he only put up 38 yards on 13 carries. Take out his long gain of 22 yards and he went 16 yards on 12 carries. With FCS Savannah State coming to Boone this weekend, the Mountaineers should get their mojo back.
2.) Arkansas State Red Wolves (0-1, lost at Nebraska 43-36)
Last Week: 3
Blake Anderson’s club put on the best showing of any Sun Belt team this week as Justice Hansen threw for 415 yards and the Red Wolves had the ball inside the Nebraska 10 for a chance to tie it on their last possession. Blaise Taylor chipped in punt return touchdown from 63 yards out as it was a solid team effort by the Red Wolves. Turnovers and rushing defense were what held Arkansas State back as the Huskers ran for 225 yards and intercepted Hansen twice. Arkansas State has another chance at a huge victory this weekend when Miami comes to Jonesboro.
3.) Troy Trojans (0-1, lost at Boise State 24-13)
Last Week: 2
Troy went to Boise State on Saturday and it was a brutal performance by Neal Brown’s offense. The Trojans only accumulated 215 total yards as Brandon Silvers only tossed for 139 yards on 33 attempts. It wasn’t any better on the ground as Jordan Chunn had 41 yards on 11 carries. The defense kept the Trojans in the game all day and the highlight was a Blace Brown pick-six in the second quarter. The Trojans should get their offense back on track against FCS Alabama State on Saturday evening at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
4.) New Mexico State Aggies (0-1, lost at Arizona State 37-31)
Last Week: 3
The Aggies put on an impressive offensive showing in Tempe as NMSU would accumulate 549 total yards powered by the 398 passing yards from Tyler Rogers. Jason Huntley emerged as a future playmaker as he scored on two explosive plays in the fourth quarter. The defense was very good against the run and they took a PAC-12 team to the wire on the road. A huge match-up in Albuquerque against New Mexico is on for this Saturday. NMSU’s Jaleel Scott had the best play of the weekend.
5.) Idaho Vandals (1-0. beat Sacramento State 28-6)
Last Week: 6
Matt Linehan was getting a lot of attention heading into his senior season as a four-year starter at quarterback for Paul Petrino, but it was the defense that stole the show in the opener. The Vandals held FCS Sacramento State to 190 total yards as the as the Hornets were unable to reach the endzone. Tony Lashley led the team with eight tackles and Idaho was able to record four sacks on the night. The offense was led by running backs Aaron Duckworth and Isaiah Saunders as they posted a combined 220 yards on 32 carries. Idaho will be the heavy favorite when UNLV comes to the Kibbie Dome on Saturday night.
6.) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (1-0, beat Southeastern Louisiana 51-48)
Last Week: 4
The offense in Lafayette exploded in offensive coordinator Will Hall’s debut as the Ragin’ Cajuns posted 51 points on only 363 total yards. Mark Hudspeth’s squad scored touchdowns on two kickoff returns by Raymond Calais and would need a blocked extra point to seal the game with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Southeastern Louisiana offense gave the UL-Lafayette defense a ton of problems as they ran for 343 yards. Defensive coordinator Mike Lucas has his work cut out for him as the Cajuns take on a potent Tulsa offense this Saturday.
7.) South Alabama Jaguars (0-1, lost at Ole Miss 27-47)
Last Week: 7
The Jags were able to hang tough for a half, but the electric Ole Miss passing attack took over in the third quarter as Ole Miss scored four touchdowns powered by three touchdown passes by Shea Patterson. For the night, the Jags gave up 429 passing yards and let the game slip away from them with a bad third quarter. But there were some positives as quarterback Cole Garvin played well and junior college transfer Tra Minter emerged as a legit sidekick to Xavier Johnson at running back. The pass defense will be tested again on Friday night as the Jags host Mason Rudolph and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
8.) ULM Warhawks (0-1, lost at Memphis 29-37)
Last Week: 10
The Warhawks went on the road in the opener and played a loaded Memphis squad tight for four quarters. The Warhawks were able to accumulate 425 yards and 25 first downs against a solid Memphis defense. If not for four turnovers, ULM would not have needed a crazy fourth quarter comeback to get within striking distance. The run defense was gashed, but the offense showed signs of live behind quarterbacks Caleb Evans and Garrett Smith. It’ll be a unique challenge for ULM on Saturday night as they’ll head to Florida State to take on freshman quarterback James Blackman in his first career start.
9.) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (1-0, beat UMass 38-28)
Last Week: 12
In their first ever FBS game, the Coastal offense exploded under interim head coach/offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell as the Chants would collect 321 rushing yards. They would be led by senior Osharmar Abercrombie who would be named the Sun Belt offensive player of the week. Abercrombie ran for 149 yards on 17 carries for two touchdowns to lead the way. The Chants only attempted 18 passes, but their secondary was lit up for 362 passing yards. Coastal will be receiving a bye in week two before traveling to Birmingham to take on UAB.
10.) Georgia Southern Eagles (0-1, lost to Auburn 41-7)
Last Week: 8
It was an ugly start to year two for Tyson Summers as the Eagles move back to the option did not go well. Auburn held Georgia Southern to just 70 rushing yards on 47 attempts. That’s not good. The defense was responsible for the only score of the night and that occurred when Tomarcio Reese picked up a fumble and rumbled 22 yards for six in the second quarter. Nothing went well for Shai Werts in his first college football game as he was held to eight yards passing on eight attempts and 16 yards rushing on 23 carries. It was just ugly for the Eagles. The defense was gashed for 535 yards and the night could not have gone much worse for Summers. Georgia Southern will head back to Statesboro and will host FCS New Hampshire on Saturday evening as they try to figure some things out this week.
11.) Georgia State Panthers (0-1, lost to Tennessee State 17-10)
Last Week: 9
It was just ugly as the Panthers opened up Georgia State Stadium on Thursday night. Shawn Elliott’s club lost quarterback Conner Manning to injury in the third quarter and the ground game showed no improvement under the new coaching staff as the Panthers only gained 49 yards on 28 carries. Tennessee State came to Atlanta and dominated Georgia State for 60 minutes in Elliott’s debut. The Panthers get a bye to work on everything before the road trip to Penn State.
12.) Texas State Bobcats (1-0, beat Houston Baptist 20-11)
Last Week: 11
It’s expected to be a long season in San Marcos and Saturday night confirmed that as Texas State struggled to put away FCS Houston Baptist. The Bobcats were only able to put up 290 yards of total offense as Mississippi State grad transfer Damian Williams was just average in his debut as the starting quarterback. It was a game won by the defense as the Bobcats recorded five sacks and held their competition to just 59 yards on the ground. Everett Withers will have his hands full this week as Texas State travels to Boulder to take on Colorado this Saturday.