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October 18, 2012

Sun Belt Week 8

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

Who's playing

About the game

Our pick

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Already this season a pair of SEC teams have fallen victim to the red hot Sun Belt.  Week eight though will not see a third as the Dawgs tear into the Blue Raiders for the win.

at

South Alabama is still struggling, but improving.  With the trouble that FAU gave the Warhawks last week, the Owl should be able to snap their five gmae losing streak.
at The Cajuns remain red hot despite losing quarterback Blaine Gauthier.  This game could be considered the Sun Belt's semi-final game for the league championship, with Louisiana-Lafayette continuing on.
at If Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette are considered a semi-final in the race for the league championship, the other half would have to be this game.  ULM is flying high, but will have their bubble busted by the red towel as the Hilltoppers take the game.
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A pair of traditional powers in the conference, struggling through 2012.  Troy will not have Corey Robinson this week, but should put up a decent fight before the FIU offense rolls to the win.

Team News and Notes

Arkansas State Red Wolves

ASU is over .500 for the first time this year and has won back-to-back games for the first time since closing the 2011 regular season on a nine-game winning streak . . . Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin became the Sun Belt Conference's third all-time leader in passing touchdowns and second all-time leader in passing yards and completions during the South Alabama game . . . Freshman wide receiver J.D. McKissic has recorded at least four receptions in every game and seven or more in four games to give him a Sun Belt Conference-high 46 . . . The ASU offense has recorded 30 or more points in five games this year, including the last two in a row . . . Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold recorded a career-high 17 tackles against South Alabama, which are the most by a Sun Belt Conference player this season, tied for the 13th most in the nation this year and the most by an ASU player since Tyrell Johnson posted a Sun Belt Conference-record 25 against North Texas in 2005 . . . Ryan Carrethers also tied his career high for tackles with 10 against South Alabama, giving him two games this season with double-figure stops from his defensive tackle position . . . Senior DE Tim Starson has posted at least a partial tackle for loss in five of his last six games . . . Junior kicker Brian Davis scored four points during the USA game, giving him 181 for his career to move him into fourth place all-time at ASU for points by kicking.

 

Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic University will return to a familiar state this weekend when the Owls travel to the University of South Alabama. While the game will mark the first time the two teams have played, FAU has played more games in the state of Alabama than any other state in the Union and with the addition of USA FAU has played every FBS institution in Alabama. This season FAU travels to Alabama twice. The Owls home played Alabama and will face USA this weekend. FAU also will play host to Troy at home.

The Owls will be led this weekend by senior linebacker David Hinds who has tallied 50 tackles on the season, including four for a loss of five yards. Adarius Glanton and Andrae Kirk have provided linebacker support with 38 and 31 total tackles, respectively, while safeties Jeremy McKnight and Brent Harstad are two and three, on the squad with 43 and 41 total tackles, respectively.

Offensively, Graham Wilbert will be under center. Wilbert has completed 107 of 164 pass attempts for 1,006 yards and six touchdowns. The senior has gone to 11 receivers on the season but William Dukes leads all Owls with 23 receptions and 320 yards. Wilbert has found five receivers in the end zone hitting Marcus Cunningham, on Saturday, for Cunningham's first score of the season. The ground attack is expected to be led by the trio of Damian Fortner, Jonathan Wallace and Martese Jackson. Fortner leads the way with 255 yards on 70 carries.

 

FIU Panthers

Jake Medlock (R-So., QB) and Kedrick Rhodes (Jr., RB) returned to game action vs. Middle Tennessee as starters. Medlock had missed the last two games at Louisiana and Arkansas State following an injury during the Louisville game. Rhodes was also out for the Arkansas State game with injury.

Jake Medlock threw for a career-high 380 yards, completing 24 of 38 pass attempts with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His previous high was 348 yards in the season-opener at Duke.

 Glenn Coleman (Jr. WR) recorded his second-career touchdown at 1:52 of the first quarter on a 25-yard pass from Medlock. His previous touchdown came at ULM on Nov. 19, 2011. He also registered a career-high five catches for 115 yards receiving, passing the four-for-39 yards he caught in that ULM game.

Willis Wright (Jr., WR) had a career-high 109 yards receiving off of three catches. His previous high was 85 yards at Akron in 2011 on four receptions.

Johnathan Cyprien (Sr., SS) is now tied for eighth all-time at FIU with 40 games started. He is tied with Greg Ellingson (WR, 2007-10) and Lance Preston (LB, 2002-05). He is two starts away from tying Nick Turnbull (41, 2002-04) for the most starts at the safety position at FIU.

Winston Fraser (Sr., LB) now has 38 career starts and is tied with teammate Rupert Bryan, Jr. (Sr., OT) for 11

on FIU's all-time starts list. Fraser is just two starts away from tying Lance Preston (40, 2002-05) for the most starts by a linebacker at FIU.

 Tourek Williams (Sr., DE) recorded two sacks in the game upping his career sack total to 14.5, moving past Daunte Foster (12.5, 2002-04) into second-place on his own.

 

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

The Cajuns dominated Tulane, 41-13, to improve to 4-1 for the second straight season

 The Cajuns have now won eight straight home games dating back to last season. The streak ranks as the third-longest win streak in Cajun Field history and three short of the record. The Cajuns started the current streak by going 5-0 at home in 2011, the third undefeated season in Cajun Field history and first since 1987.

 With 123 yards rushing against Tulane, sophomore running back Alonzo Harris reached the 1,000-yard mark for his career. In 17 career games, Harris has carried 237 times for 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns with a pair of 100-yard rushing games.

 Kicker Brett Baer made a pair of field goals and five extra points to record his fifth straight double-digit scoring game of the year. Baer has now made at least one field goal in all five games this season and 17 in the last 18 games.

 The Cajuns continued a season-long trend by owning a 3-1 edge in forced turnovers in the game. the Cajuns made a pair of interceptions and recovered a fumble to improve to +8 in turnovers this year. The Cajuns have forced 13 turnovers (6 fumbles & 7 INTs) while committing just five (four fumbles, one interception). The Cajuns have turned those 13 miscues into 53 points (5 TDs & 6 FGs) while the four Cajuns turnovers have led to just 10 points.

 Senior safety Rodney Gillis made his team-best third interception against Tulane, giving him an interception in all three home games this year.

 Justin Anderson was responsible for scoring the second defensive touchdown of the season when he picked off a D.J. ponder pass and returned it 38-yards for a score. Last season, the Cajuns were second in the nation with seven interceptions returned for touchdowns.

 Javone Lawson caught four passes for 82 yards with a pair of touchdowns in the game. It was his second multi-touchdown game of his career. He also caught two scores in the New Orleans Bowl victory over San Diego State in December.

 

ULM Warhawks

ULM scored the first points of the game against Florida Atlantic... Brent Leonard's three-yard reception from Kolton Browning gave ULM a 7-0 advantage with 9:06 to play in the first quarter... It marked the fifth time (in six games) that ULM scored first this season.... All five occurrences have been touchdowns and the only time ULM didn't score first was at Middle Tennessee (Oct. 6).

 The 26 plays run by ULM in the first half against Florida Atlantic were the fewest of the season for the Warhawks.

 With ULM's victory over Florida Atlantic, the Sun Belt Conference now has five teams with four or more wins in 2012... It is the first time in conference history that the Sun Belt has had five teams with four or more wins by the end of week seven.

 ULM is 2-0 in the Sun Belt for the first time since the 2009 season... The Warhawks started the 2009 campagin with a 3-0 record in league play and finished the season 5-3 in conference play and 6-6 overall.

 ULM finished with 194 rushing yards against Florida Atlantic... It broke the Warhawks streak of three consecutive games of rushing for 200 or more yards.

 Brent Leonard's first quarter TD reception was the 3rd of the season for the senior and the 10th of his career.

 Monterrell Washington's second quarter TD run (36 yards) was the fourth of the season (and career) for the junior... Washington added another rushing TD in the fourth quarter for his second multiple rushing TD contest of the season (Baylor, Sept. 21)... Washington finished the game with four carries for 45 yards (11.2 ypc).

 Harley Scioneaux's TD reception in the third quarter was his third catch of the season (all three have been touchdowns).

 Kolton Browning completed 10 passes for 147 yards with two TD passes... He also rushed 10 times for 59 yards.

 

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Senior running back Benny Cunningham registered his second 200-yard game of the season and the third 100-yard game of his career against FIU. He is the first Blue Raider to top 200 yards twice in a season since Dwone Hicks in 2001 (he had 217 yards at GT). Cunningham finished with a career-best 36 carries for a personal-high 232 yards. In his last two road games, Cunningham has a total of 449 rushing yards.

 Senior running back Benny Cunningham registered his second 200-yard game of the season and the third 100-yard game of his career in tonight's game against FIU. He is the first Blue Raider to top 200 yards twice in a season since Dwone Hicks in 2001 (he had 217 yards at GT). Cunningham finished with a career-best 36 carries for a personal-high 232 yards. In his last two road games, Cunningham has a total of 449 rushing yards.

Logan Kilgore registered his 30th career touchdown pass when he connected with Anthony Amos late in the first half. The 30 scoring strikes ties Billy Walker (1964-67) for seventh on the all-time list. Kilgore needs four more to surpass Mickey Corwin (1983-84) for sixth.

Middle Tennessee recorded its first blocked kick of the season when Stephen Roberts rejected an FIU field goal attempt in the third quarter. It marked the 26th blocked kick under Rick Stockstill and the 14th field goal. It was also the first block of Roberts' career.

Middle Tennessee reached 500 yards of offense for the second time this season. Against Georgia Tech, MT totaled 510 yards on Sept. 29. MT totaled a season-high 523 yards of offense in Saturday's win over FIU.

 Anthony Amos turned in a career-best performance against FIU with eight receptions for 148 yards.

 

North Texas Mean Green

North Texas cornerback Hilbert Jackson had already broken his career-best performance for tackles by the end of the third quarter. Jackson had 15 stops at the end of the third which broke his previous-best of nine which he had earlier this season vs. LSU.

Running back Jeremy Brown recorded his second career touchdown for North Texas when he went 48 yards for a score in the second quarter. That scoring run was also the longest rush of his career.

Quarterback Derek Thompson passed for more than 200-yards for the fourth straight game for the first time in his career with a season-high 252 yards again Houston. Thompson is the first North Texas quarterback since Giovanni Vizza to pass for over 200-yards in four straight games. His current streak is tied for fourth all-time, with the record being 10, set by Mitch Maher in 1994. Thompson for his career now has eight 200-yard passing games for his career, which is tied for fifth all-time.

The Mean Green didn't force a turnover for the first time this season against Houston.

North Texas had a season-high in penalties against Houston with seven for 87 yards.

The Mean Green has rushed for over 200 yards through six games. Last season North Texas had only two 200-yard games for the entire season.

 North Texas had 10 players with at least one reception against Houston, which is the first time since the season opening game at FIU that 10 different players caught at least one pass in a game.

 

South Alabama Jaguars

Ross Metheny accounted for a USA season-best 263 yards of total offense in the program's first-ever conference road game at Arkansas State Saturday, equaling a school game record with three touchdown passes. The junior finished 24-of-38 passing - a school game record for completions - for 241 yards, adding 22 on the ground, in leading the Jaguars to their highest scoring total since the opening week of the season. ILB Jake Johnson had nine total tackles, including two assists behind the line of scrimmage, and a fumble recovery, helping lead a defensive effort Saturday that limited ASU to 316 yards of total offense, 155 below the Red Wolves' season average entering play. Senior Michel Chapuseaux tied a career high with three field goals, posting a season-best 11 points in the Jaguars' game Saturday at Arkansas State. Junior ILB led the Jags with a career-high-tying 12 total stops, the second time in three outings that he has posted a dozen tackles after first accomplishing the feat at Mississippi State on Sept. 22. It was the third occasion this season that Williams has paced the team in tackles, while he has also been credited with at least one stop for loss in four of the last five games after collecting an assist behind the line against the Red Wolves. Both Corey Besteda and Greg Hollinger finished with a career-best five catches in the ASU game. Besteda recorded 45 yards, two shy of the team lead in the category, as he has posted at least three receptions in each of his last three appearances (the junior sat out the Mississippi State contest with an injury). Hollinger grabbed three passes in the final quarter against the Red Wolves, including a 12-yard scoring reception that pulled the Jaguars to within a touchdown in the final minute, after being held without a catch last time out against Troy. After going three games without a carry, redshirt freshman Terrance Timmons paced the USA ground attack at ASU with 43 yards on 13 attempts. He also caught three passes for 29 yards, finishing the contest with 72 all-purpose yards after posting 25 in the Jags' first five games this season. FS B.J. Scott had five total stops against the Red Wolves, with two of those behind the line of scrimmage including his first career sack for loss of 11 yards in the second quarter. On that play, the senior also forced his first fumble since USA's first-ever game against an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision opponent at North Carolina State on Sept. 15 last fall. The Jaguar offense recorded season highs at ASU with 373 yards of total offense - the unit ran a school game-record 88 plays - and 35 minutes and 39 seconds time of possession. After entering play converting 27.8 of its third-down opportunities, USA also went 9-of-20 (45%) in those situations against the Red Wolves while also succeeding on 4-of-6 fourth-down conversions.

Troy Trojans

Troy's game against Western Kentucky on ESPNU was the first on the three major ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) at Veterans Memorial Stadiumsince October 6, 2009, against Middle Tennessee; Troy is now (12-5 on the major three networks, with the loss being the first at home For the sixth straight game to start the season, the Troy defense held the opponent scoreless; the Trojans forced a fumble on WKU's fourth play of the game Wide receiver Chip Reeves caught two passes of 30 yards or more in the game, giving him six for the season, the most in the Sun Belt; Reeves caught three passes for 110 yards in the game, his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. The last Trojan with three in a year was Jerrel Jernigan in 2009 (including GMAC Bowl). The last player to have three 100-yard receiving games in a regular season was Heyward Skipper in 2001 Justin Albert's 54-yard first-quarter punt return was the longest since Jerrel Jernigan's 75-yard return againstLouisiana-Lafayette on October 16, 2010. The return was also a career-long for Albert Troy's fake field goal in the second quarter from Jaquon Robinson to D.J. Taylor was Troy's first attempted fake field goal since Sept. 28, 1991 at Alabama State; that was Larry Blakeney's fourth game as the Trojans' head coach. Tonight's game vs. WKU was his 262nd Running back Shawn Southward's 57 rushing yards moved him into eighth place on the Troy career list with 2,354 Troy had three different players throw a touchdown pass against WKU (C. Robinson, D. Anthony, J. Robinson). Troy last accomplished that feat on October 20, 2007 against North Texas (O. Haugabook, T. Jones, G. Banks).

WKU Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers improved to 5-1 and 2-0 in Sun Belt play after a 31-26 Thursday night victory at Troy. It was WKU's second straight victory over the Trojans, and the first win for the Toppers in Troy.

 WKU has equaled the 2001 Middle Tennessee squad for the second-best start in the history of Sun Belt football. Louisiana-Lafayette - who has a chance to equal that 5-1 mark when it plays North Texas on Tuesday night - started the 2011 season with a 6-1 record before falling to the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green.

Senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed a season-high 21 of 31 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns against the Trojans. It was his third game this season with at least three TD passes, as he as now thrown a career-best 11 touchdowns so far in 2012. Jakes threw 10 touchdown passes in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Since throwing an interception in the first quarter of WKU's win at Kentucky, Jakes has thrown 74 passes without and INT, completing 49 of those throws.

Junior running back Antonio Andrews rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game, carrying the ball 26 times for 113 yards. Over the four-game stretch, Andrews is averaging 147.2 rushing yards per game with five touchdowns on the ground over that span.

Kadeem Jones scored two touchdowns for the first time this season, picking up his first rushing TD of the season with a one-yard run, and gabbing an 18-yard touchdown catch for his third receiving score of the year.

Andrew Jackson recorded a season-high 12 tackles for the second straight game on Thursday, with 11 of those being solo tackles.

Jack Doyle recorded his first touchdown catch of the season with a nine-yard scoring reception right before halftime. Not only was it his first of the year, but it also ended a stretch of 79 catches for Doyle between scores. His last TD catch prior to Thursday came on Oct. 9, 2010 at Florida International.



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