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Publishers from across the Rivals.com network give their picks on week ten's Sun Belt Conference games.
Team News and Notes
Arkansas State Red Wolves
One victory away from reaching bowl eligibility, Arkansas State has won its last three games and will carry a six-game road winning streak against conference opponents into its game Saturday against North Texas . . . Winners in four of its last five games, A-State moved its overall record to 5-3 and Sun Belt Conference mark to 3-1 with a 50-27 road victory over Louisiana-Lafayette its last time out. The Red Wolves' three-game winning streak is their longest since ending the 2011 regular season on a nine-game winning streak. ASU is one victory away from achieving bowl eligibility for the fifth time over the last eight seasons . . . Arkansas State is 13-8 all-time against North Texas and has won the last seven meetings, including a 31-24 victory at Fouts Field in 2005 that secured its spot in the New Orleans Bowl . . . ASU forced a season-high five turnovers last week against Louisiana-Lafayette. . . The Red Wolves' offense posted over 500 yards total offense for the fourth time this season . . . Junior kicker Brian Davis kicked five field goals and accounted for 20 points by kicking, both the most by a Sun Belt Conference player this season.
Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic University's football team grabbed a 34-27 victory against Sun Belt Conference member Troy University on homecoming. It marked the first SBC victory for first year head coach Carl Pelini and the first time the Owls have defeated Troy at home. The game wasn't without its heroics. FAU held a 26-17 lead heading into the fourth. The Trojans scored twice and held a 27-26 with 1:49 left in the game. The Owls began their final drive at their own 26-yard line. Senior Graham Wilbert moved the chains with a six-yard completion to William Dukes and a six-yard scramble. Wilbert then found senior Byron Hankerson for a 15-yard catch. Wilbert then alternated passes between Dukes and Nexon Dorvilus, who had six catches for a team-high 78 yards. Dukes also had six catches for 41 yards. While Dorvilus had two touchdowns on the night it was Dukes who had the game-winning catch with a 22-yard reception. The ground attack was led by Jonathan Wallace who had 87 yards. Defensively, Winfred Strickland had his first career interception and a 32-yard return that led to a field goal. Senior Brent Harstad led the Owls for the second consecutive week with 15 tackles.
FAU will next travel to the United States Naval Academy where the Owls will face Navy for the first time in the program's history.
The 2012 football schedule places the next two games on the road for the Panthers, as FIU next faces the University of South Alabama on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Kickoff with the Jaguars is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST.
With a bye-week between games, FIU's final road-game will come 57 miles north on I-95 at Florida Atlantic University, Friday, Nov. 16, at FAU Stadium. The ESPNU nationally-televised kickoff with the Owls is scheduled for 8 p.m. The Panthers regular season finale will see the ULM Warhawks travel to Miami on Sat., Nov. 24. Kickoff is TBA.
For the first and only time in 2012, FIU will be facing a new opponent in South Alabama. The Jaguars recently joined the Sun Belt Conference for football, and will be a full-member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision by 2013, once its planned transition is complete.
Jake Medlock, who threw for 187 yards in the WKU game, moved into No. 4 in career passing yards. He now has 2,086 passing yards, moving ahead of Wayne Younger (2007-10).
Willis Wright surpassed 100 yards receiving for the third-straight game, hauling in five catches for 128 yards vs. WKU. It is the first time in program history an FIU receiver has top the 100-yard receiving mark in three consecutive games. Wayne Times had five catches for 54 yards in the WKU game, extending his streak to 26-straight games played with at least one reception dating back to the 2010 season. His streak is the third-longest streak in FIU history.
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
The Ragin' Cajuns football team will look to end a two-game skid this weekend when the squad heads to Monroe, La. on Saturday to face ULM for the 48th time in the program's history. Louisiana-Lafayette is coming off of a 50-27 loss to Arkansas State at Cajun Field. The defeat marked the first home loss in the Mark Hudspeth era.
The Cajuns hold a 24-23 series edge over ULM after winning the last four meetings between the two teams. The Cajuns and Warharks are tied at 11 wins apiece in Monroe.
Junior wide receiver Darryl Surgent has moved into the team lead with 380 yards and three touchdowns after his performance against ASU. Jamal Robinson also had a breakout game against the Red Wolves posting 106 yards on five catches. Linebacker Justin Anderson continues to pace the Cajun defense with 56 tackles on the season. Christian Ringo leads the squad in sacks with 3.5.
ULM and Louisiana-Lafayette will meet for the 48th time Saturday at Malone Stadium... ULL leads the all-time series 24-23 as it has won the last four meetings... ULM has dropped the last two meetings by a single point (L, 22-23, 2010; L, 35-36, 2011). Saturday's contest between the two teams will be the 20th meeting in Monroe, with the Warhawks holding a 10-9 advantage.
Since falling to Baylor in the home opener on September 21, the Warhawks have won five straight games... It is the first time ULM has won five straight games since 1993 when it was a member of the FCS (1-AA) ranks... The five game streak in 1993 lasted from October 16 to November 13.
The Warhawks are 4-0 in the Sun Belt for the first time since joining the conference... ULM started the conference season 3-0 in both 2005 and 2009 before dropping its fourth league game. Not only are the Warhawks bowl eligible at 6-2, it is the best start for the program during the FBS-era (started in 1994)... The last time ULM was 6-2 after its first eight games was in 1993.
Against South Alabama, Brent Leonard tied a single-game school record with four touchdown receptions... He is just the second player to accomplish the feat (Stepfret Williams, at Nevada, Oct. 14, 1995).
DaCorris Ford recorded his third interception of the season in the win over South Alabama... Ford leads the team with his three interceptions.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
The win over North Texas not only erases the bad memory of a 59-7 defeat at the hands of the Mean Green last year but more importantly gives the Raiders a fifth win. The 5-3 mark after eight games marks the third time under Rick Stockstill MT has started 5-3 with the other occasions being bowl years of 2006 and 2009. It also goes down as the earliest date to five victories since 2001 (Oct. 6).
Wide receiver Kyle Griswould enjoyed a career day against North Texas with three catches for a personal-best 140 yards and two touchdowns. Griswould had scoring plays of 72 and 51 yards with the 72 yarder being a career long for the junior and the third longest play of the season by MT.
With 121 receiving yards, senior Anthony Amos ran his season total to 794 yards. That figure ranks 10th on the all-time single-season list at MT. Amos recorded his fifth career 100-yard receiving game and fourth of the season in the win over North Texas. Amos finished with eight catches for 121 yards.
Quarterback Logan Kilgore registered his third career 300-yard passing game and the first of the season with 349 yards against North Texas. Kilgore now ranks tied for second on the all-time list for 300-yard games with Clint Marks and Kelly Holcomb. It also went down as the 13th career 200-yard passing game and sixth of the season. Kilgore, who ranks third all-time in 200-yard games, is chasing all-time leaders Wes Counts and Clint Marks. Both had 18 for their career.
Middle Tennessee's defense recorded multiple interceptions for the first time since the GoDaddy Bowl against Miami, Ohio in 2011 (bowl of 2010 season). The Blue Raiders finished with three interceptions to give them six for the season which is one more than the team had all of 2011.
North Texas Mean Green
North Texas had three players rush for over 50 yards against Middle Tennessee, which is the first time that has happened since last season against Indiana. However the Mean Green had three running backs top the 50-yard mark against the Blue Raiders, and it is the first time since 2002 that North Texas has had three running backs go over 50 yards in a game. Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson, and Jeremy Brown are the first trio to rush for 50-yards since Kevin Galbreath, Patrick Cobbs, and Roy Bishop on November 2, 2002.
Quarterback Derek Thompson topped the 200-yard passing mark for a career-best sixth straight time. Thompson is just the fourth player in school history to pass for 200-yards in six straight games and the first since Giovanni Vizza in 2008. With four regular season games remaining, Thompson can tie the school record of 10 straight games with 200 yards passing, set by Mitch Maher in 1994. He now has 10 200-yard career passing games, which is fourth in school history.
Freshman Carlos Harris caught only his second career pass but his first touchdown against MTSU.
Freshman running back Antoinne Jimmerson has rushed for 487 yards on the season, which is the third highest total by a freshman at North Texas since the 1997. Jimmerson has rushed for more yards as a freshman than the all-time leading rusher Lance Dunbar and Patrick Cobbs, who is second all-time. Only Jamario Thomas in 2004 (1,801) and Ja'Quay Wilburn in 1997 (594) have rushed for more yards than Jimmerson. He has rushed for five TD's, which is the most since Thomas in 2004 and the tied for the second highest total by a freshman since Darrin Collins in 1986.
South Alabama Jaguars
Sophomore Demetre Baker rushed for 115 yards on 14 carries in the Jaguars' game at ULM Saturday, the first time a USA running back has surpassed 100 yards since he collected 111 in a win over Henderson (Ark.) State on Oct. 29 last fall. That included a 61-yard gain late in the first quarter, the longest play from scrimmage for USA this season, that set up the first score of the game. Baker is averaging 83 yards per game in Sun Belt Conference play. Jeremι Jones caught a Jag season-best seven passes for 62 yards against the Warhawks, both totals that led the team in the contest. The sophomore had two touchdown receptions in the first half, the first time a USA player recorded multiple touchdown catches since Courtney Smith had a pair on Oct. 23, 2010, in a 24-21 victory at UC Davis; the effort also helped Jones tie the school season record Smith first set in 2009 with five scoring receptions this year. ILB Enrique Williams paced the Jags with 11 total stops in the ULM contest, the third game in a row that he has reached double figures in the category. It was the fourth time in the last five outings, and the fifth occasion this fall, that the junior has led USA in tackles. PK Michel Chapuseaux connected on his only field-goal attempt against the Warhawks from 27 yards to close out the scoring, his sixth straight successful kick leaving him one shy of equaling the school record set by Jordan Means from Sept. 17-Oct. 22 last year. The senior has converted 80 percent (8-of-10) of his attempts in league play, as he leads the squad with 55 points on the season. Jake Johnson recorded nine tackles last time out, including two behind the line of scrimmage. The effort gave him 10½ stops for loss on the season, making him the first player in program history to post double digits in the category. Junior Ross Metheny has accounted for more than 200 yards of total offense in each of the last three outings after collecting 226 against the Warhawks, as he has thrown for six scores against only two interceptions during that stretch. He finished with 211 yards through the air last time out on 21-of-41 passing - a school game record for attempts - while adding a career-long 21 yard run in the third quarter to help set up USA's final touchdown of the night. Terrell Brigham was credited with a career-high eight solo tackles last time out, and he also accounted for the Jags' lone takeaway of the game with an interception on the goalline in the first quarter giving the sophomore a team-high-tying two on the year. He is averaging 8.3 stops per game the last three weeks.
Shawn Southward scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground for the Trojans; his eighth multi-touchdown game of his career Chip Reeves had five catches for 88 yards, including a 51-yard reception; the 51-yard catch was his third of 50 or more yards this season and the fifth longest play of the year for the Trojans Eric Thomas had three catches for 16 yards to move into sixth in Troy history with 116 career receptions; Thomas and Reeves are the only Trojans to have a catch in all eight games .. Corey Robinson moved into second place in Sun Belt history with 789 completions in his career Will Scott hit a school-record 52-yard field goal against Florida Atlantic; the previous best was 50-yards Chris Pickett has now forced a fumble in three straight games Troy plays at Tennessee this weekend with a 12 p.m. local time; the Trojans are 2-0 this season in games that start at noon or before (UAB and FIU).
With a 14-6 win at Florida International on Saturday, the Hilltoppers improved to 6-2 on the season and have become bowl eligible for the second straight season. WKU has now won 13 of its last 16 games dating back to last season.
Senior defensive lineman Quanterus Smith had a career game with five sacks against the Panthers - the most by any FBS player in a game this season. As a team, the Hilltoppers registered nine sacks against FIU, which ties USC for the third-highest sack total in a game in 2012.
Antonio Andrews finished with 27 carries for 158 yards - 108 of which came in the second half. It was Andrews' sixth straight 100-yard game, which is the longest active streak by a running back in the nation. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch has rushed for over 100 yards in seven straight games.
The Hilltopper defense forced four turnovers in the game - recovering three fumbles and interception a pass. That equalled the season-high for take aways. WKU also recorded four turnovers at Kentucky on Sept. 15. In addition to three fumble recoveries, Cam Thomas intercepted a pass for the second straight game.
WKU has not allowed a touchdown to FIU 13:19 mark of the fourth quarter in the matchup in Miami in 2010. WKU won last year's game by a 10-9 score, allowing three field goals.
Tight end Jack Doyle recorded four first-half receptions for 63 yards on Saturday, moving him within three catches of third second place on WKU's career list. Doyle has at least three receptions in every game this season.
The Hilltoppers continue to lead the nation in time of possession at 34:16 per game. The now have recorded over 30 minutes of possession in 18 straight games dating back to last season.
WKU will have a short week of preparation before hosting Middle Tennessee Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.