Well gents, it was an awful week in this league. Where it seems just yesterday we were celebrating a record number of teams with bowl eligibility, we are now pretty definitively worse than the Sun Belt.
The league went 0-3 against the Belt, and morale is low. Western Kentucky, fewer than two years removed from holding their second-straight Conference Title just lost to an FCS team (Maine) and looked poor in doing so. Mike Sanford had ready-made excuses — believable ones — last season but is looking overmatched for his job.
He is a likable guy, and a generous quote-giver, but those do not win games. WKU couldn’t move the ball and is really missing Jeff Brohm right now. Interestingly, of the three former (successful) head coaches, only Bobby Petrino had a good weekend. Jeff Brohm’s Purdue lost to Eastern Michigan, and Willie Taggart survived Samford by the skin of his teeth.
Let us quickly recap the day:
North Texas 58 – Incarnate Word 16
The league’s reigning offensive player of the year is making a case for a double. Mason Fine threw for 418 and 4 scores (against one interception) while the Mean Green rolled over a hapless FCS squad — here is the important part — as they were expected to do. North Texas is playing well on defense (against poor squads) and dominating on offense. UIW did gash some big runs, so there is hope for the rest of the league.
NT was favored by 43.5, so they did not cover.
FAU 33 – Air Force 27
Kiffin’s squad put on a passing show against Air Force, but this summer we were not thinking this game would be close. While Chris Robison rebounded successfully from a poor outing in Norman, Oklahoma with 471 passing yards (school record!), Motor Singletary has yet to really dominate a game.
FAU didn’t cover the 9-point spread.
Marshall 32 – EKU 16
The Herd controlled the game against an EKU team that has a decent offense. Isaiah Green looked good again, throwing three scores. The run game was missing, and that is concerning. Also, three fumbles. Marshall looks the most comfortable but far from the “best” in the East. That title is vacant.
Marshall was favored by 31.
FIU 28 – ODU 20
It is possible for both teams to feel good. Old Dominion managed some offense — explosive pass plays even — and lept ahead 17-0 before allowing FIU to come back. For the Panthers, well, there is a good comeback and a win to celebrate. Both can point to the long delay during the middle of the game for excuses and motivation. Old Dominion is in a bad spot but has something to build on. That seems to be the status quo for something like 15 weeks now.
FIU was favored by a point.
La Tech 54 – Southern 17
Light work. An easy win for Tech saw J’Mar Smith throw for 380 and 2 scores. The Bulldogs dominated on both sides of the ball.
Tech covered the 34.5 spread.
Baylor 37 – UTSA 20
Okay, given the way that UTSA played in the desert, this was actually a little impressive. The offense moved the ball well enough and for a brief moment it looked like there was a game to be had. If you watched closely, you saw Baylor controlled this game from start to finish although UTSA was feisty. That is the Roadrunner squad we all knew from the last decade. Still, UTSA managed only 255 yards an threw for only 157. The defense allowed nearly 500.
Game was a push, as UTSA were 17 point dogs.
MTSU 61 – UT Martin 37
This was a shootout until the middle of the third when Middle began to pull away. Still, UTM came within 10 at 37-47 in the fourth quarter. Allowing 460 yards of offense — including 258 yards passing is unacceptable.
MTSU covered the 19.5 point spread.
ULM 21 – USM 20
Jack Abraham completed 31/46 for 378 and 2 TDs but threw 2 INTs. The offense struggled in the second half to finish. Two turnovers, a giveaway on downs, and a missed field goal helped doom the Golden Eagles.
USM was favored by 7.5
Rice 29 – Hawaii 43
Rice came out and played a good game that most of us were asleep for. Austin Trammel caught a Shawn Stakavage TD pass to make it 22-28 in the fourth quarter, but Hawaii had too much Cole McDonald, the nation’s passing TD leader. The good news is that Rice is looking competitive. The bad news is that they are still 1-2 with both losses coming to good FBS squads. The rest of the conference is shaky and will definitely trip up to Bloomgren’s group.
Rice covered the 17-point spread.
App State 45 – Charlotte 9
Complete and utter domination. The Mountaineers did what they liked . They doubled up the yardage totals and Appalachian State did not miss a pass. Fifteen-for-fifteen between two QBs — and 295 yrds and three scores.
App State was favored by 14.5
UAB 24 – Coastal Carolina 47
Kendall Parham zigged and sprint-zagged through the CCC defense to make it 21-7 early in the 2nd quarter, but that was all Bill Ckark would get aside from Nick Vogel field goal for the rest of the game. CCU scored six straight touchdowns to end the game, including two in the final three minutes. Erdely was poor, and Spencer Brown was held in check. The second half saw a punt, a missed FG, a turnover on downs, and an interception. These were in between Chanticleer TDs, of course, which is most concerning.
UAB was favored by nine.
Maine 31 – WKU 28
Maine players walked off the field with their fingers to their lips, and some telling the fans “thanks for the money!” . Another woeful offensive performance from Sanford’s crew. He’s 6-9 in his time at Bowling Green. Just two seasons ago, this team was atop the conference, and some fans were smugly looking down at the rest of the league. Now? Gut-check time.
WKU were 9 point faves.
UNLV 52 UTEP 24
This was more expected than anything else. But still, watching UTEP derp their way yet again is awful. The good news is that the offense scored 24 points. So there is change in the way they are losing. UTEP used two QBs to little effect — the best option for this crew is running the ball with everyone that can.
UTEP were 24 point dogs.
Your Conference Standings:
Most Improved: Either ODU or UTSA, right?
Problem Child: WKU. More excuses.
Teacher’s Pet: North Texas. Look at you finishing your assignment early.
Cutest Couple: Rice and Bloomgren. They really complement each other.