Publishers from across the Rivals.com network give their picks on week
Sun Belt Conference games.
Team News and Notes
Arkansas State Red Wolves
Arkansas State will carry a seven-game home winning streak into its final
non-conference outing of the regular season Saturday, hosting FCS member
Alcorn State at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.com . . . ASU is off to a 1-2 start for the
fourth consecutive year, picking up its lone victory against Memphis and
dropping road games against two nationally-ranked programs in Oregon and
Nebraska . . . Saturday's game will be the first ever meeting between
Arkansas State and Alcorn State . . . While A-State and Alcorn State will
meet for the first time Saturday, the Red Wolves have played four other
opponents among the current SWAC membership all-time and holds a 5-0 record
in those games . . . Dating back to the 2002 campaign, the Red Wolves have
won their last six games against FCS foes by a combined 349-57 score . . .
Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee recorded a career-high 15 tackles against
Nebraska, which were the most by an ASU player since 2010 and tied the most
by a Sun Belt player this year . . . Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold
matched his season-high tackles total with 11 against the Huskers, marking
the second time over ASU's first three games this year he has posted
double-figure stops. Herrold is ranked second in the SBC and tied for 28th
in the nation in tackles . . . Senior kicker Bryan Davis has made two field
goals in ASU's first three games this year to give him eight career games
with multiple field goals . . . Redshirt freshman wide receiver J.D.
McKissic recorded a team-high 8 receptions against Nebraska, matching his
career high set the week before against Memphis and moving him into a tie
for the third highest receptions total in the SBC this season (6.7 per game)
. . . The Red Wolves 11-game streak with at least 300 yards total offense
came to an end against Nebraska.
Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic University's football team (1-2) travels to Tuscaloosa, AL
this weekend where the Owls will face the nation's top ranked team,
University of Alabama, 5 p.m., Saturday, September 22. The matchup is the
second-consecutive top-10 opponent for the Owls and the second-consecutive
SEC opponent, coming off a 56-20 loss to No. 7 University of Georgia.
FAU tied the Georgia game at seven with 2:30 remaining in the opening
quarter on a 43-yard run by Damian Fortner. The Bulldogs would go up 14-7
minutes later, but Graham Wilbert, who was 18-31-1 for 183 yards, led FAU
into the end zone four plays later connecting with Nexon Dorvilus to even
"I was confident coming into the game, you could see signs all week in
practice," said FAU Head Coach Carl Pelini. "The speed, execution, the
assignments, the mistakes are going away. We can be pretty good. I think our
offense made a jump this week."
Fortner rushed for a career high 81 yards and scored his first career
rushing touchdown, second TD of the year. William Dukes was the hot receiver
with five catches for 98 yards. The defensive highlight was Adarius
Glanton's pick-off, his first interception for the Owls and returned it
42-yards for the score. The linebacker had eight tackles on the night.
Senior Brent Harstad had a career high and game high 12 tackles while fellow
safety Jeremy McKnight matched his tackle production and added a diving
interception in the end zone.
This week's Louisville game marks the fourth and final non-conference game
for FIU during the regular season. The Panthers begin Sun Belt play next
saturday, Sept. 29, on the road at Louisiana-Lafayette
FIU enters the game off a road loss, 33-20, at UCF. In the game, FIU
overcame a slow start in the first half to outscore UCF, 20-10, in the
second half. The Panthers narrowly came within one touchdown with the
Knights, 20-30, after Darian Mallary scored his second touchdown on the day
near the end of the third quarter, but FIU missed on the two-point attempt.
Mallary, a senior from Miami's Gulliver Prep, has had a brilliant start to
his final campaign with the Blue and Gold. He has scored a team-best five
touchdowns this season, including back-to-back games with two rushing TD's.
The seniors are shining on defense, with Johnathan Cyprien, Winston Fraser
and Jordan Hunt 1-2-3 on the team in tackles. Tourek Williams leads FIU with
4.5 tackles for loss. For his efforts at UCF, Williams was named the
National Defensive Lineman of the Week from College Football Performance
Awards. Williams tied a career-high with nine tackles in the game, including
four tackles for loss and one sack.
FIU, in its 11th season playing football and eighth at the FBS level, are
playing a school, Louisville, whose program dates back to 1912. Aside from
UCF (1979 began, 1996 FBS), FIU's first two opponents, Duke and Akron, had
212 collective years playing college football (Duke, 100; Akron 112).
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
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.
Friday night's meeting against Baylor will be the first meeting between the
Warhawks and the Bears. ULM is 0-7 all-time against current Big 12 members.
Through two games in 2012, ULM is 9-for-11 (82%) on fourth down. The 2011
squad converted 12 fourth downs (27 attempts).
The 62 points amassed by the Warhawks against opponents from the SEC this
season are the most in program history. The previous high was 57 points
during the 2006 season (at Alabama , vs. Arkansas  and at Kentucky
Through two games, Kolton Browning has thrown for 649 yards with 70
completions (113 attempts)... He has six touchdown passes this season with
just one interception... He also leads the team in rushing with 127 yards on
Brent Leonard is the team leader in both receptions (18) and receiving yards
At Auburn, Rob'Donovan Lewis led the ULM defense with nine tackles (6 solo,
3 asst). Meanwhile, Cordero Smith and Cameron Blakes each totalled six
tackles and Blakes recorded his first sack of the 2012 season.
Mitch Lane had his first career fumble recovery and his first career
interception at Auburn. Lane's fourth quarter interception of Auburn QB
Kiehl Frazier allowed the Warhawks to climb within seven points (28-21).
Lane leads the Warhawks with 14 tackles (4 solo, 10 asst) this season, while
R.J. Young is second with 13 tackles (5 solo, 8 asst).
Redshirt freshman Harley Scioneaux made his first career catch Saturday at
Auburn. Scioneaux's grab was a one-yard TD reception on fourth and goal at
the Auburn one yard line giving the Warhawks the early lead. It marked the
second consecutive week that the Warhawks scored a TD on their first
possession. In the fourth quarter, he made his second career reception, also
a touchdown, as ULM closed the gap to 28-21 with 6:15 to play.
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 first 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' first
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
North Texas had 353 total yards of offense against Kansas State. It was the
most yards for the Mean Green against a Big 12 school on the road since
racking up 507 yards of offense against Colorado in 2004.
The Mean Green forced two turnovers against Kansas State and has now forced
at least one turnover in 19 of the last 20 games.
North Texas has combined to rush for 816 yards in the last two games at
Apogee Stadium. During that time the Mean Green has outscored its opponents
Brelan Chancellor is just 48 all-purpose yards away from entering the top-10
all-time at North Texas. Chancellor has 2,950 for his career and 50 more
all-purpose yards would make him the fifth player since the 2001 season to
top the 3,000 all-purpose yard mark in a career. He leads North Texas with
377 all-purpose yards on the season and could become the first player in 24
years to lead the Mean Green in all-purpose yards in three straight seasons.
Not since Marcus Camper lead the Mean Green in all-purpose yards from
1985-88 has a player led North Texas in all-purpose yards in three straight
The Mean Green opens their 12th and final season of Sun Belt Conference play
against Troy. North Texas in Sun Belt opener since joining the league is
Derek Thompson had a career-best 89.2 completion percentage (min. 20
completions) against Kansas State, by completing 25-of-28 passes. Thompson
stands at 58.7 percent for his career in completion percentage, which ranks
fourth all-time at North Texas.
South Alabama Jaguars
Jake Johnson posted a USA season-high 14 total tackles at North Carolina
State Saturday, which included a school game-record 11 unassisted stops; it
was the second-highest single game total recorded by a Jaguar in three-plus
seasons of competition. He was credited with one tackle for loss, the third
game in a row that he has made a stop behind the line of scrimmage, and also
had one quarterback hurry. … Junior Alex Page had the best game of his
career at N.C. State, finishing with five total tackles including a pair of
sacks - both were personal-best totals. Page already has three sacks on the
season, surpassing his previous high of 2½ set a year ago. … RB Demetre
Baker had career highs in the N.C. State game with five receptions for 55
yards, and he also paced the USA ground attack with 45 yards on seven
carries; it was the third time in as many contests that he has been the
Jaguars' top rusher. The sophomore's 100 all-purpose yards were a game-high
total, marking the first time since he had 111 on Oct. 29 last year that he
has reached triple digits in the category. … OLB Clifton Crews was credited
with four stops combined in the Jags' first two games of the year, but he
posted six against the Wolfpack. That total - which was one less than his
career high first set at Georgia State on Oct. 22 last fall - included a
career-best 1½ tackles behind the line of scrimmage. … Corey Besteda equaled
a previous high with three catches, which included the longest reception of
his career; his 43-yard catch from Ross Metheny was the first play on the
Jaguars' only scoring drive of the game. He finished with a season-best 68
yards, three shy of his career high set at Kent State on Sept. 24 a year
ago. … Bryson James forced his first fumble since Oct. 31, 2009, against the
Wolfpack when he poked the ball loose from Brandon Barnes in the third
quarter, and he also had his first tackle for loss since the 2010 season
opener as well. James finished the NCSU contest with a season-best three
stops, all of the solo variety. … Jeremé Jones made just one catch against
the Wolfpack, but it was on an eight-yard scoring play in the final six
minutes that allowed USA to avoid being shutout for the first time in
program history. The sophomore now has a reception in 17 straight games,
tying the school record first set by Courtney Smith during the 2009 and '10
seasons. … Senior Tremain Smith made the first start of his career at left
tackle, the first time this season that the Jaguars have made a change to
their starting five up front on offense … Saturday's loss marked the first
time in 30 all-time games the USA defense has not forced a turnover; the
Jags are minus-five in turnover margin through three contests this fall.
2012 has turned into a season of records for Troy; Corey Robinson set five
single-game or career records in Troy's game against Louisiana-Lafayette and
a Veterans Memorial Stadium record crowd of 29.013 witnessed the Trojans
almost knock off Mississippi State this past weekend ... Troy gashed the
nation's 11th-ranked defense for 572 yards and 30 first downs ... Corey
Robinson completed 32-of-45 passes for 343 yards, while Shawn Southward
rushed for 137 yards and two scores to lead the Troy offense; it was his
seventh multi-touchdown game of Southward's career ... Chip Reeves had nine
catches for 79 yards, while Eric Thomas had seven catches for 74 yards ...
The Trojans did not allow a sack in the game and have allowed just one sack
this season in 145 pass attempts ... The 572 yards gained by the Trojans are
the most against an SEC team this season (when the game finished) and the
Bulldogs entered Saturday's contest having allowed just 481 yards combined
in their first two games ... It was also the second most yards given up
during Dan Mullen's four-year tenure as the head coach of the Bulldogs ...
The game marked the first time an SEC opponent has ever visited Veterans
Memorial Stadium in the 63-year history of the facility (opened 1950) ...
Running back Shawn Southward's two-touchdown performance gave him 162 career
points, tying him for 10th place with Vince Green (1967-70) ... Quarterback
Corey Robinson's 343-yard game marked the 15th 300-yard performance of his
career ... Troy returns to Sun Belt play this weekend at North Texas
WKU improved to 2-1 on the season in dramatic fashion with a 32-31 overtime
victory at Kentucky on Saturday, winning the game with a two-point
conversion in overtime.
The Hilltoppers improved to 9-1 all-time in overtime games, and 4-0 in OT
under Willie Taggart.
The win over the Wildcats was the first for WKU in four games over the
instate rival, and the first win in history for the Hilltoppers over a team
from the Southeastern Conference.
The Hilltoppers earned their first win in 21 tries against teams from a BCS
automatic qualifying conference since 2001.
Junior running back Antonio Andrews set new career highs in rushing attempts
(34), rushing yards (125), rushing touchdowns (3) and all-purpose yards
The Hilltopper defense came up with four interceptions in the game -
including three in the first half. That was the most since it picked off
Murray State four times on Sept. 20, 2008.
Jonathan Dowling accounted for three of WKU's four interceptions on the
game. It marked just the fifth time in school history that a Hilltopper
defender had intercepted at least three passes in a game, and the first time
since Carl Brazley had three picks against East Tennessee State on Sept. 30,
Junior college transfer Brett Harrington recorded his first career
interception on Kentucky's opening drive of the game.
The Hilltoppers have now won nine of their last 11 games dating back to last
season. They are also 2-1 to start a season for the first time since 2007.