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September 26, 2012

Sun Belt Week 5

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Publishers from across the Rivals.com network give their picks on week five's Sun Belt Conference games.

Who's playing

About the game

Our pick

at

The Warhawks might have dropped their past two games, but face a ripple in the pond this week against Tulane.  ULM takes this one to continue the Sun Belt's run over Conference USA in 2012.

at

These schools are about three hours apart, but that's as close as the game will be; Trojans win, moving to 2-1 in the Sun Belt.
at Louisiana-Lafayette is healed up and ready for battle after the bye week, while FIU dropped a close game against Louisville.  This week the Panthers get beat by another 'L' team as ULL improves to 2-0 in conference play.
at FAU didn't beat Bama last week as Head Coach Carl Pelini said they would.  The Owls won't win this week either.  
at The Hilltoppers have been one of the hottest teams around this season, but the Red Wolves are hungry for their second straight win after thrashing an FCS team last week. Look for a it to be a dog fight, but end the end, the Red Wolves get a red towel chew toy.
at The Blue Raiders opened up conference play last week with a win, but step back out for another road game.  Same number of players, different result as Georgia Tech rolls.  

Team News and Notes

Arkansas State Red Wolves

ASU is 7-4 all-time in Sun Belt Conference openers, including a 26-22 win over WKU in 2011 . . . ASU leads the all-time series with WKU 3-2-1 and the series is tied 1-1 when playing in Jonesboro . . . A-State's eight-game conference winning streak is tied for the longest in the nation with Northern Illinois, while Western Kentucky's 7-game streak is the third longest . . . The Red Wolves defeated Alcorn State 56-0 last week to run its home winning streak to eight games as well . . . Their 56-0 victory over the Braves was their largest since defeating Mississippi Valley State 61-0 in their 2009 season opener . . . ASU holds a 2-2 record through four games played for the second consecutive year . . . The ASU defense limited Alcorn State to just 130 yards total offense and 2.2 yards per play, which ties the fifth lowest average in Sun Belt Conference history . . . ASU recorded over 600 yards of total offense for the second time this season, posting 634 yards against Alcorn State that ranks as the seventh most in school history for a single game . . . Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin took over second place for the most career yards of total offense in Sun Belt Conference history last weekend, and he now needs just 388 yards to become the league's all-time leader.

Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic University (1-3) will play host to Sun Belt Conference member University of North Texas 5 p.m., Saturday, September 29. FAU holds a 6-2 all-time mark against the Mean Green, however UNT has captured the last two.

The Owls offensive attack continues to be led by Graham Wilbert. The senior guided FAU to 110 total yards against the nation's sixth best defense and most importantly the Owls protected the ball winning the turnover battle. Newcomer Jonathan Wallace recorded 47 yards on the ground and is the third Owl to lead the FAU in rushing this season. Martese Jackson led FAU in game one with 98 yards, Damian Fortner was the ground leader in game two and three with 42 versus Middle Tennessee and 89 at Georgia. Fortner was second on the team Saturday with 39. Tight end Alex Deleon led the team in receptions with four and scored his first collegiate touchdown, a 10 yard grab with 2:49 remaining in the game. The score was the first points Alabama has allowed in three games. Defensively, newcomer Adarius Glanton recorded 11 tackles, his first double-digit performance of the 2012 season. Brent Harstad added 10 including a sack for a loss of 16. The breakout performance of the night came from freshman punter Sean Kelly who was called upon eight times. Kelly averaged 49.4 yards per punt, all hitting the corners. Kelly's longest punt of the night was a 57 yarder.

The Owls will return home, where they hold a 1-0 2012 mark

FIU Panthers

FIU opens Sun Belt Conference play with a road trip to Lafayette, La., to face the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.  Under Head Coach Mario Cristobal, FIU is 3-2 in Sun Belt Conference openers with wins in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

FIU enters the game at Louisiana coming off a narrow home loss to then No. 18 Louisville, 28-21, last Saturday.

The FIU offense was the first of Louisville's 2012 opponents to better the Cardinals in total offense 326-323.

The FIU defense held the Cardinals to a 2012 season-low 323 total offense, 129 yards rushing and 194 yards passing. The FIU defense also held Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to 53 percent passing (19 of 36), where he had entered the game passing 81.8 percent on the season.

Jeremiah Harden recorded 102 yards rushing on 20 attempts in his first start of the 2012 season.

Wayne Times extended his streak to 21 games with at least one reception dating back to the 2010 season.

Johnathan Cyprien finished with a game-high nine tackles, including four solo and five assisted. He also had his fourth career interception in the game.

The all-time series with Louisiana is one of the longest on-going for the FIU football program, with the first meeting taking place in the program's second season (2003). The Ragin' Cajuns hold the series lead 7-2, however FIU has taken two of the last three meetings.

Darian Mallary scored FIU's first touchdown of the game vs. Louisville, a three-yard run at 2:14 of the first quarter. With the score, his sixth rushing touchdown in 2012, he became the first FIU player to rush for a touchdown in each of the first four games to start a season and has the most rushing touchdowns (6) by an FIU player after the first four games.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

After suffering their first defeat of the season, a 65-24 setback at Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Cajuns will  have their first bye week of the season before returning to Sun Belt Conference play to host FIU on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6:00 p.m. in Cajun Field.

The Cajuns are in a first place tie with Middle Tennessee in the Sun Belt after claiming a 37-24 decision at Troy on Sept. 8. The Cajuns will put its six-game Cajun Field win streak on the line against FIU, the fourth-longest in facility history.

Senior Javone Lawson came to life against the Cowboys, making eight catches for 92 yards to move into eighth place on the Cajuns career chart in receptions (108) and raise his career receiving total to 1,634 yards (9th).

Senior Brett Baer missed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide left in the second quarter to snap his Sun Belt record of 18 consecutive field goals made going back to last season. Baer came back to connect on a 41-yard effort in the third quarter to improve to eight-for-nine this year and remain tied for the nation's lead in field goals made per game.

Junior Justin Anderson leads the Cajuns with 27 tackles this year, including back-to-back double figure efforts at Troy (11 tackles) and OSU (10). Anderson entered the year having made 21 tackles in 17 career games.

Through three games, the Ragin' Cajuns rank fifth nationally with a +2.0 turnover margin. The Cajuns have committed just two turnovers this season, both fumbles, while making three interceptions and making five fumble recoveries.

With Brett Baer ranking 34th nationally in punting (43.0), the Cajuns are an impressive 13th nationally in net punting. Cajun opponents have returned punts for just 34 yards this year, giving the Cajuns a 41.0 net punting average, tops in the Sun Belt.

ULM Warhawks

ULM and Baylor combined for 89 points, 173 plays and 1,109 yards of total offense in the shootout at Malone Stadium (Sept. 21). There were only three punts attempted in the contest (Baylor, 2; ULM,1) and the two teams finished a combined 7-for-8 in the redzone.

The 262 rushing yards (43 carries) that ULM amassed against Baylor are the most during the Todd Berry era. It is the highest total for the Warhawks since they tallied 290 rushing yards (41 carries) in a 21-18 victory over Western Kentucky on November 14, 2009.

ULM has scored first in four consecutive games (at Florida Atlantic [2011], vs. Arkansas, at Auburn, Baylor). All four scores have been touchdowns.

After committing eight penalties during the first two games, the Warhawks were whistled for eight penalties against Baylor (8 penalties - 44 yards).

Entering the contest against Baylor, Monterrell Washington had one carry for no gain in 2012. Against the Bears, Washington scored his fi rst career touchdown with a nine-yard rush to push the ULM lead to 14-0 with 1:33 to play in the first quarter. On Washington's next carry he rushed up the middle for 48 yards for his second score of the game, putting ULM ahead, 21-7 (12:00, 2nd Quarter). Washington finished with seven carries for 86 yards and two TDs. Prior to the career night, Washington had 36 career rushing yards on 18 carries with a long of nine yards.

Jyruss Edwards surpassed the 100-yard rushing plateau for the second time in his Warhawk career with 120 rushing yards against Baylor (21 carries). He recorded his 17th career rushing touchdown with a 58-yard TD run against the Bears. Edwards is the team's rushing leader with 232 rushing yards (53 carries).

With 49 rushing yards against Baylor, Kolton Browning went over the 1,000-yard mark as he now has 1,004 career rushing yards. He needs just 40 yards of total offense to reach the 7,000-yard mark for his career. Through three games, Kolton Browning is 95-of-152 for 921 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Browning has also rushed 43 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

The Middle Tennessee defense held the opposition to under 100 yards rushing for the second straight game by limiting the Memphis Tigers to 74 yards on the ground. MT was coming off a 96-yard effort in the win over FAU. The last time MT held an opponent in consecutive games to less than 100 yards rushing was during the 2009 season when it accomplished the feat against Louisiana and Arkansas State.

Quarterback Logan Kilgore topped the 200-yard passing mark for the second time this season and the ninth of his career with 253 yards against Memphis. Kilgore currently ranks 7th all-time on the 200-yard passing list and needs three more to tie for 5th.

For the third straight game, senior receiver Anthony Amos set a personal-best. Amos established a career best in receiving yardage with 128 yards and receptions with nine against Memphis. In the opener against McNeese he had 8 catches to establish a personal-best then had 102 receiving yards in the win over FAU to set his personal mark in that category.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Byard recorded his fi rst career interception in a big way against the Tigers. Byard took a Jacob Karam pass in the second quarter and returned it 68 yards for his first career TD. It marked the first interception returned for a touchdown by MT since Rod Issac had a 70 yarder against ULM on Oct. 23, 2010. It was also the Blue Raiders' fi rst interception since Nov. 19, 2011 against ASU.

Middle Tennessee did not allow a sack against Memphis to remain tied for 1st nationally. The Blue Raiders have not given up a sack all season.

North Texas Mean Green

Brelan Chancellor moved into eighth place in North Texas history in career all-purpose yards. The junior posted 143 all-purpose yards against Troy on Saturday night, and now has 3,093 for his career.

Ivan Delgado posted a career-high in receiving yards with 126 on six catches. Brelan Chancellor caught six passes for 107 yards, which are both just short of his career highs (6 catches vs. Troy in 2011, 114 yards vs. LSU in 2012).

With Chancellor and Delgado both over 100 yards, North Texas had a pair of 100-yard receivers for the first time since 2007 against Navy (134 by C. Fitzgerald, 127 by K. Washington, 113 by S. Dibrell).

A win against Florida Atlantic would give the Mean Green a 2-3 record through the first five games, which would be only the third time since 1997 North Texas has been 2-3 after five games. North Texas has been 1-4 or worse in every year since 2005 after five games and since 1997 only in 2005 and 2003 did the Mean Green have a record of 2-3 after five games. North Texas finishes at 5-7 in Sun Belt Conference openers as the Mean Green play the final season in the league before moving to Conference USA in 2013.

The Derek Thompson to Chancellor 50-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter was the second scoring play of over 50-yards this year for NT. The pair also hooked up for an 80-yard TD pass against LSU.

Zach Orr's first-quarter interception was his first of the season, and the second of his career. Orr also had a pick against Houston in the 2011 home opener.

South Alabama Jaguars

The Jaguars will play their first-ever Sun Belt Conference contest when USA faces Troy Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. It will be the Jags' only home game in a five-week span. … Williams led the Jaguars with a career-best 12 total tackles Saturday at Mississippi State, a figure that included a season high 1½ stops behind the line of scrimmage. It was the first time since the 2011 season opener that the junior has posted a double-digit tackle total. … Jake Johnson and B.J. Scott also recorded 10 tackles, marking the first time in school history that the Jaguars have had three players post 10-plus stops in the same outing. … Jeremι Jones had a nine-yard reception on USA's first play of the game, setting a school record with a catch in 18 consecutive games. He would go on to finish with a season-high four catches for 49 yards. … WR Bryant Lavender led all players with six catches for 80 yards against the Bulldogs, matching a career high for receptions first set in last year's finale against Cal Poly. The junior had seven receptions for 42 yards in the Jaguars' first three games of 2012, as he now leads the team in catches. … Pat Moore was credited with USA's only sack against MSU, giving him a team-high 3½ through four contests. The junior-college transfer ended up with a career-best six total tackles against the Bulldogs, twice as many as any other defensive lineman on the roster. … QB C.J. Bennett saw his streak of 16 consecutive starts come to an end, but he came off the bench to lead the Jags with 154 yards passing after completing 14-of-26 attempts. His 18-yard scoring pass to Greg Hollinger with just over four minutes to go provided USA with its only touchdown of the contest. Bennett would finish with 183 yards of total offense after rushing three times for 29 yards. … Ross Metheny added 70 yards through the air while making his first career start, as the Jaguars finished with 224 passing yards. It is the first time since the last two games of the 2010 campaign that USA quarterbacks have thrown for 200 or more yards in back-to-back outings. … Tyrell Pearson is the only player on the Jaguar defense with multiple interceptions this season after he picked off a second-quarter pass and ran it back 25 yards. The junior-college transfer also broke up another MSU pass, giving him five passes defended so far this fall. … Both of the Jaguars second-half scoring drives were over 10 plays long and took more than five minutes off the clock. It's the second occasion this season that USA has had two scoring drives of 10 or more plays, but the first time since last year's finale that the Jags have scored twice on drives of five-plus minutes in the same game.

Troy Trojans

Troy held North Texas to a three-and-out on the Mean Green's first drive, marking the fourth-straight game the Trojans held their opponent scoreless to open the game … Running back D.J. Taylor played in first game of the 2012 season, the senior missed Troy's first three games of the season … Chip Reeves also moved into 15th place in school history with 81 receptions and past former Trojans Maurice Stringer, Smokey Hampton, and DuJuan Harris … Camren Hudson tied a career-high in tackles with nine against North Texas. Hudson also made nine stops at Arkansas State in 2011 … The 14 points scored by the Trojans in the win were the fewest points since 2006 when Troy knocked off North Texas, 14-10 … Troy WR Eric Thomas made his 100th career reception against North Texas and passed former Trojan Tebiarus Gill for 12th place in school history … Quarterback Corey Robinson moved into second place on the Sun Belt career passing touchdowns list with 55 after throwing two at North Texas … Robinson's 76-yard touchdown pass to Reeves was the second longest in both players' careers and the longest play for Troy this season … Shawn Southward also moved into a tie for 16th place in Troy history with 79 career receptions to tie Stringer, Hampton, and Harris.

WKU Hilltoppers

WKU closed out its nonconference schedule with an impressive 42-17 win over defending Conference USA champion Southern Miss at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. The Hilltoppers' dominating performance was seen by a stadium record-setting sellout crowd of 23,252 fans.

WKU's running back duo of Antonio Andrews and Leon Allen both rushed for career-high totals against the Golden Eagles. Andrews posted his second straight 100-yard game, racking up a 136 yards on 15 carries - an average of 9.1 yards per carry. That came on the heels of a 125-yard effort against Kentucky. Allen averaged 12.0 yards per run, picking up 132 yards on 11 carries. It marked the 28th time in school history that WKU has produced two 100-yard rushers in the same game, but it was the first time it had happened since Nov. 1, 2008 at North Texas. Andrews also led WKU in receiving, catching four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed 12 of 18 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns. In two home games in 2012, Jakes has thrown for seven touchdowns.

Fullback Nick Baisch scored his first career touchdown on his first career carry on Saturday - a one-yard run for WKU's final touchdown of the night.

Fellow fullback Kadeem Jones rattled off a career-long 42 yard run in his only rush of the game.

As a team, the Hilltoppers ran for 369 yards on the night, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. That was the most yards by a WKU team since running for 373 against North Carolina Central on Oct. 27, 2007.

The Hilltopper defense finished with eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the Golden Eagles, and limited Southern Miss to just 3 of 10 on third down.

The Hilltoppers are now 3-1 on the season entering Sun Belt Conference play this week at Arkansas State. It is the first time WKU has won three of its first four games of the season since 2007.

 



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