The Arkansas State Red Wolves have been rolling through the Sun Belt this year, with no conference opponent finishing within 10 points at the final whistle. Now they're Sun Belt Champs.
I don't know what New Mexico State's game plan was coming into Saturday's game, but I'm sure it wasn't to allow Tres Houston and Dijon Paschal to light them up for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Aggies were out of this game by the end of the first half, after a 73-yard Blaise Taylor punt return put them down 35-17.
The Red Wolves scored on offense, defense, and special teams. Meanwhile the Aggies lacked football fundamentals and speed. Watch #21 Jaden Wright lose the huge angle on Dijon Paschal's 75-yard touchdown to even the score at 7 all.
Sure, you can't teach speed, but you can sure teach tackling technique and diving at the feet of a receiver in the air is...not good.
Arky State secured its fourth Sun Belt Championship in five years, and heads home as 23-point favorites against the team in San Marcos that says they play "football".
Matt Breida continues to embarrass Sun Belt defensive coordinators
Here is how I imagine South Alabama's coaches meeting went:
Joey Jones: Okay guys, thanks for coming in, I wanted to chat about how we're going to stop Matt--
Travis Pierson (looking at cell phone): Ha! This is so funny!
Jones: Coach Pierson, put away your cell and let's get into the defense against Georgia Southern.
Pierson: Hahaha! Look at this picture! It's a kitty, but he's got a grouchy face!
Jones: sigh...we're not gonna stop him anyway. Is that one of those may-mays I hear the kids talkin' about?
How embarrassing does it have to be to know EXACTLY who is going to be running the ball on almost every play, but unable to do anything about it? USA (not 'murica) was on the cusp of breaking .500 but that darn Matt Breida reeled off 187 yards and 2 touchdowns. Breida is a hair under 1500 yards on the season and has 16 touchdowns with 1 regular season and bowl game to go.
The Eagles defense was stupendous only allowing 136 total yards and forcing 2 turnovers. Expect a higher scoring affair next week when they welcome Nick Arbuckle and the Georgia State Panthers to Statesboro, who love to throw the air out of the ball (but not to the point of deflation!). It may be much of the same for Breida and Co. against the Panthers' middling rush defense.
Is it UL-Lafayette? ULL? THE University of Louisiana?
I have a friend that went to Louisiana-Lafayette and he insists that they're THE University of Louisiana, which I met with a puzzled grin. Either way, they aren't even the second-best football team in Louisiana. Maybe not even the third. Putting THE in front of your name carries responsibility.
The Appalachian St. Mountaineers have a simple formula to win games. Run the ball down your throat. Play air-tight defense. Set up Taylor Lamb for a few shots. Repeat. This formula has served them very well, obviously.
The Mountaineers held leading rusher Elijah McGuire to just 43 yards of 16 attempts. Louisiana Quarterback Brooks Haack was running for his life all night and wasn't able to get anything going in the air finishing with 128 yards on 13-of-22 passing. The Mountaineers would combine for 6 sacks, 9 tackles-for-loss, and 8 QB hurries with three of those sack coming from a breakout performance by Sophomore LB Eric Boggs.
App State will finish on the road as 18-point favorites against the South Alabama Jaguars in Mobile where they'll make their final appeal to the bowl committees. Although they missed out on the conference crown, the 'Neers only losses were to the eventual conference champs Arkansas State and #1 Clemson.