Sun Belt Conference news and notes

ARKANSAS STATE: Reggie Arnold ran for 126 yards on just 12 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead the Red Wolves in a 61-0 rout of Mississippi Valley State. As a team, ASU went for 358 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Don Jones had 84 rushing yards and a score and he also had two receptions for 26 yards and another touchdown. Quarterback Corey Leonard completed 8-of-13 tosses for 129 yards and a touchdown, while the defense allowed just 69 total yards in posting its first shutout since 2005. The Red Wolves face a much more capable opponent this weekend in Big 12 power Nebraska.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: The Owls were no match for nationally-ranked Nebraska this past weekend, dropping a 49-3 decision in Lincoln. FAU was outgained 490-358 and it turned the ball over three times in falling to 0-7 versus the Big 12. Rusty Smith had a rough one under center, as he completed just 15-of-31 tosses for 164 yards and two interceptions. It was certainly a poor start for the SBC's preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Cortez Gent hauled in five of his passes for 58 yards, while Alfred Morris went for 85 rushing yards on 18 carries in the setback. The Owls will return to action on September 19th, when they face South Carolina in Columbia.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: The Golden Panthers kick off their 2009 campaign this weekend with a bout versus highly ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa. FIU finished 5-7 last year, a giant improvement after going a combined 1-23 the prior two seasons. The team returns a good deal of talent and experience from 2008 and that should have this squad competing for a winning campaign.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: The Blue Raiders were plagued by special team issues in their opener, as they allowed Clemson to return a kickoff and punt in a 37-14 setback this past weekend. MT didn't help itself by committing three turnovers either and the offense managed just 299 total yards and only one touchdown. Quarterback Dwight Dasher threw for 204 yards and a score and led the team with 61 rushing yards, but he completed just 20-of-42 tosses and was picked off three times. Chris McCoy did return a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter to give MT some hope, but it wasn't enough. The Raiders will look for a better performance this weekend when they host Memphis.

NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green put the past behind them and kicked off the 2009 season on a winning note, posting a 20-10 victory on the road against Ball State. North Texas won just its second opener since the 1997 campaign and in the process posted its first non-league road victory since 1999. Riley Dodge, son of head coach Todd Dodge, showed why he was such a prized recruit, throwing for 216 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt freshman also added 73 more yards on the ground, helping North Texas match last season's win total. Cam Montgomery paced all rushers with 149 yards on 17 totes, while the Mean Green' defense limited Ball State to 309 total yards and forced a pair of turnovers. It was quite an effort from a defense that gave up a whopping 47.6 ppg and 482.6 total ypg in '08, resulting in a 1-11 finish. The Mean Green will open their home slat next weekend against another MAC opponent in Ohio University.

TROY: With lofty expectations surrounding the program, Troy was unable to get off to a fast start and instead suffered a 31-14 setback at Bowling Green in both teams opener. Quarterback Levin Brown, the SBC's Newcomer of the Year in '08, threw for 263 yards a touchdown, but he was picked off twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Tebiarus Gill was his main target with eight catches for 102 yards, while Jerrel Jernigan added five receptions for 37 yards and a score. Things will get a whole lot tougher this weekend, as the Trojans face top-ranked Florida in Gainesville.

UL-LAFAYETTE: The Ragin' Cajuns used a balanced effort of 208 rushing yards and 325 passing to post a 42-19 season-opening victory over Southern this past weekend. Chris Masson put forth an impressive effort in his first career start, completing 18-of-24 tosses for 283 yards and two scores. He also ran for 36 yards and a third score. Undrea Sails led the ground attack with 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and he also pulled a 56 yard touchdown pass. The Cajuns will remain at home this weekend to host Kansas State of the Big 12.

UL-MONROE: As expected, the Warhawks were unable to keep up with second-ranked Texas and were handed a 59-20 loss this past weekend. ULM was outgained 562-298 in the contest and managed 17 first downs compared to 33 by Texas. Quarterback Trey Revell hit on 14-of-30 pass attempts for 197 yards with one touchdown and interception, while Frank Goodin carried the ball 15 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. Josh Thomas had a solid game for the defense, recording five stops, a fumble recovery and sack. The Warhawks get an easier opponents this weekend, as they host Texas Southern.

WESTERN KENTUCKY - The Hilltoppers' debut as a full-fledged member of the Football Bowl Subdivision was a disastrous one, as they were punished 63-7 by Tennessee over the weekend. WKU was outgained 657-83 and managed only six first downs compared to 34 by Tennessee. Bobby Rainey paced the team in defeat with 41 yards and a score on eight carries, while quarterback Brandon Smith hit on 8-of-13 tosses for only 44 yards. The Toppers return to action this coming weekend when they host South Florida of the Big East.