Not many games this week in the Sun Belt, but there are still a few things we learned. If you were lucky enough to live in a region where you could stream— or attend— these games, you saw some pretty great match-ups.
Arkansas State ain’t done yet
Coming into the week 0-4, the Red Wolves were a team down on their luck and having to play Sun Belt phenom Georgia Southern. After a slow first quarter, the Red Wolves woke up for the first time this season and found themselves trailing a mere 13-10 at the half. Arkansas State continued to hammer ahead on the ground in the second half, as two rushers went over 100 yards on the day— Warren Wand carried 19 times for 140 yards, and Johnston White contributed 17 carries and 126 yards.
This was enough to keep them close, as the score was 26-20 entering the final drive of the game. Red Wolves QB Justice Hansen capped a 13-play, 70 yard drive with an 8-yard TD pass to Omar Bayless, and the extra point sealed the victory. This is a team that doesn’t know how to quit, and after losing all four non-conference games, may still have some noise to make as we get deeper into conference play.
Texas State is gonna have a rough couple of months
Head coach Everett Withers already had his work cut out for him, but opening conference play with a loss against winless Georgia State is not how you want to get things started.
The Panthers dominated everywhere, out-rushing and out-passing on their way to the 41-21 victory. Bobcat QB Tyler Jones had a pretty good day, throwing for 300 yards, but that doesn’t mean much if you can’t turn it into points. He was picked off twice, and lead rusher Stedman Mayberry could only manage 87 yards over a whopping 26 carries, an average of 3.3 yards per rush. If you’re a Bobcat fan, the words “rebuilding season” will be echoing loudly until next September.
Idaho ain’t done yet
Dead-program-walking Idaho still has one more season after this one at the FBS level, and with that decision already made it’s not like huge successes over the next season and a half are really going to change their fortunes. And yet, opening conference play against the hapless ULM Warhawks, we saw them wear each other down as they managed to squeak out a 34-31 victory in Monroe.
Statistically the Vandals should have lost this game, as the Warhawks quarterback Garrett Smith passed for 302 yards on 20-of-38 passing, but the Vandals were able to capitalize on turnovers (3 interceptions and a fumble) and spin straw into gold, or something. After week six, the Vandals stand at 3-3 (1-1) and well within reach of a final bowl game before heading off to the FCS.
Next week the Vandals battle an equally surprising New Mexico State team, as they fight to get over .500 in conference play.