Sun Belt Conference news and notes

Oct. 6

Troy  31, Middle Tennessee 7 (ESPN2)

Oct. 10

* Louisiana-Lafayette 38, North Texas 34 (Sun Belt Network)

* FIU 37, WKU 20

Sun Belt Conference Upcoming Games

Oct. 13

* Arkansas State at ULM (ESPN2) - 7 p.m.

Oct. 17

Mississippi St. at Middle Tennessee (ESPNU) - 11:30 a.m.

* Troy at FIU - 6 p.m.

* Louisiana-Lafayette at WKU - 6 p.m.

* FAU at North Texas (Sun Belt Network) - 7 p.m.

Oct. 24

* WKU at Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt Network) - 2:30 p.m.

* North Texas at Troy (Troy/ISP Network) - 2:30 p.m.

* Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Lafayette - 4 p.m.

* FIU at Arkansas State - 6 p.m.

ULM at Kentucky - TBA

Florida Atlantic Owls

The Owls used the bye week to develop as a team and to get extra snaps for the younger players. FAU will travel to North Texas this weekend in an effort to secure not only the first win of the season but the first Sun Belt victory of 2009. The Owls hold a perfect record against UNT but no game has ever been easy - usually coming down to a turnover or late interception.

FAU may prove to be a different team than the Mean Green has faced in previous years. Sophomore Alfred Morris has proven to be hard to stop and senior quarterback Rusty Smith will look to build a consistent air attack and look to get into the endzone. Something that has alluded the Owls in 2009.

Defensively, Dino Cox leads the squad in sacks and Michael Lockley continues in the ways of dominate linebackers for the Owls with double digit tackles in each of his first four outings.

FIU Golden Panthers

FIU picked up its first victory of 2009, beating WKU 37-20. In the game, FIU had success both through the air and on the ground as the Panthers passed for 280 yards and ran for 206.

Paul McCall led the way for FIU, completing 14 of 22 passes for 280 yards and a couple of scores. On the opening drive of the game McCall connected with Greg Ellingson twice, first for a 32-yard gain on the second play of the game and then for a 19-yard touchdown strike. The touchdown marked the first time this year that FIU has scored on its opening drive of a contest. McCall kept it going all game long, eventually finding Ty Frierson for a 40-yard touchdown. McCall also had FIU's longest play of the year, hooking up with Ellingson for a 65 yard strike in the third quarter.

On the ground, senior Daunte Owens led the way with 80 yards on 17 carries. He also found the endzone twice. Sophomore Darriet Perry added 79 rushing yards on 21 attempts.

Defensively, the Panthers allowed the least amount of points they have given up this season. Junior linebacker Toronto Smith led the way, picking up six tackles, half a sack and a key interception late in the game.

To round out the scoring, senior place kicker Dustin Rivest connected on three field goals. Two of the scores came on back-to-back drives where Rivest converted 39 yard field goals to put the game out of reach.

Sophomore wideout T.Y. Hilton extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 15 games, but his streak of games scoring or throwing for a touchdown ended at nine after Hilton was forced to leave the game in the first quarter with an injury.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

The Cajuns will face Western Kentucky as a member of the Sun Belt Conference for the first time in school history.  The meeting is the first in Bowling Green, but the schools have battled in Lafayette twice.  ULL won 17-14 on Sept. 26, 1992 and 38-24 on Nov. 21, 1998.  The Cajuns can even their all-time SBC record (currently 26-27), while head coach Rickey Bustle (24-23) looks to go two games over .500 in conference play for the first time ever.  ULL has started 2-0 in the SBC just once, going 4-0 last season before finishing second in the standings at 5-2.

The Cajuns defense was on the field for 35:07 vs. North Texas, including 29:27 after three quarters.  The defense has spent a lot of time on the field all season, as the offense's average time of possession is just 26:34 through five games.

UL tight ends have combined for 31 receptions this season, while the wide receivers have combined for 40 total catches.  The Cajuns have 18 penalties for 170 yards in 2009, while their opponents have 38 for 316 yards.

The Cajuns are 3-0 at home for the second straight season and third time overall under head coach Rickey Bustle.  In fact, the Cajuns started 3-0 at home only three times from 1981-2003.  ULL last started 3-0 at home in consecutive seasons in 1987-88.

Wide receiver Richie Falgout holds the NCAA record for consecutive touchdown passes to begin a career.  The record was held by Michael McDonald, a former QB at USC, who completed his first two passes for touchdowns -- one in 2005 and another in 2006.  Falgout's career passing line is 4-of-4 for 110 yards and four touchdowns.  His career passing efficiency stands at 661.00.

ULM Warhawks

ULM's 577 total offensive yards gained against FIU was the third most in the Weatherbie era.

The Warhawks have won the last four meetings against FIU by a combined 66 points and are 9-3 against both the Sun Belt Conference's Florida schools - Florida Atlantic (4-2), FIU (5-1).

2009 marks the first time in school history that the Warhawks have three wins through the first five games of the season with at least two of the three wins coming against a Division I-A (FBS) school.

The Warhawks are 20-9 under Charlie Weatherbie when scoring 27 points or more.

ULM's 48 points is the highest amount of points ever scored by the Warhawks in a Sun Belt Conference victory.

ULM's 24 points in the second quarter was the first time since Nov. 3, 2001 in which the Warhawks have scored 24 points in a quarter.

The Warhawks 304 rushing yards was the 19th time in the Weatherbie era that ULM surpassed the 200-yard mark. It is also the fourth highest mark during the Weatherbie era.

Frank Goodin's career-high 163 yards rushing moved him into sole possession of fifth place with 1,840 in his career. He is now 490 yards shy of tying fourth place all-time.   Goodin's career-tying three rushing touchdowns gives him 17 for his career, tying seventh place all-time.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Dwight Dasher entered the Troy game ranked sixth nationally in total offense and first in touches per game. After a slow start, Dasher rebounded to account for 298 yards of Middle Tennessee total yardage of 354. Dasher, who went over the 200-yard passing mark for the fifth straight game, finished with 56 total touches, just shy of his national-leading 56.75 average coming into the game.

Dasher became the first Blue Raider signal-caller to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark since Marvin Collier (1985-88). Dasher rushed for 53 yards to bring his career total to 1,026 Collier is the Blue Raiders' all-time leading rusher from the quarterback spot with 1,652 yards.

With eight tackles against Troy, Danny Carmichael topped the 200-tackle mark for his career. Carmichael entered the game with 195 stops and now has 203 tackles for his career to become the first Blue Raider to top the 200-tackle mark since Keith Pauldo in 2000. Pauldo ended his career with 205 stops.

Carmichael forced his fourth fumble of the season to equal the single-season school record set by Sean Mosley in 2006. Carmichael, who leads the SBC in that category, now has seven for his career which equals the career mark set by Mike Caldwell from 1989 to 1992.

With five catches against Troy, senior Patrick Honeycutt moved into the top 10 all-time at Middle Tennessee in career receptions. Honeycutt now has 99 catches and is tied with Matt Lowe for 10th place on the career list.

North Texas Mean Green

North Texas took a 3-0 lead on a 41-yard field goal by Jeremy Knott midway through the first quarter.  It was the first time that the Mean Green has led since midway through the fourth quarter against Ohio in the second game of the year.

Freshman quarterback Riley Dodge threw an interception that was returned 70 yards for a ULL touchdown in the first quarter.  It was the second time this year that a North Texas quarterback threw a pick-six, which includes Nathan Tune's interception that Ohio took back 69 yards for a score.

North Texas outgained ULL 98-32 in total offense in the first quarter, with the Mean Green running 23 plays while the Ragin' Cajuns ran just eight.  Time of possession favored North Texas 11:07-3:53.

Lance Dunbar scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the year from 1-yard out to tie the game at 10 midway through the second quarter.  Add a receiving touchdown and Dunbar now has five of the team's 10 touchdowns this season.

Dunbar rushed for his fourth rushing touchdown in the game late in the third quarter.  The last time North Texas had a back rush for four touchdowns in a game was Jamario Thomas vs. Idaho in 2004.  The four rushing touchdowns ties a North Texas record held by three players.

Troy Trojans

The Trojans posted their fourth consecutive victory over Middle Tennessee in the annual "Battle for the Palladium". Over the last two games between the teams at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium, Troy has outscored the Blue Raiders 76-14 and held MTSU without a point for a stretch of 99 minutes and 15 seconds of clock time, from late in the first quarter of the 2007 game, to late in the third quarter this year.

Troy improved to 9-2 all-time in games played on one of the three primary ESPN channels. The Trojans' only losses on the ESPN family came in the 2004 Silicon Valley Football Classic and in the 2008 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Trojans coach Larry Blakeney improved to 80-12-1 in his career at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium with the victory over MTSU. In his 19th season at Troy, no team has ever beaten Blakeney more than once on Troy's home field.

Troy improved to 20-3 overall against Sun Belt foes dating back to the 2006 season and to 22-4 all-time at home against current members of the SBC. The Trojans' 20-3 record against league foes over the last three-plus seasons ranks fourth among all FBS schools. Only Boise State, Ohio State and BYU have better league records than Troy over the same stretch.

Freshman running back Shawn Southward, who is the only true freshman to have seen playing time for the Trojans this year, scored his first career touchdown on a 7-yard run in the first quarter against MTSU.

With 64 yards rushing against MTSU, junior DuJuan Harris moved up to 12th on Troy's career rushing yards list. Harris also stands 11th on the career rushing attempts list at Troy.

WKU Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers rushed for a season-high 263 yards last week against Florida International.  WKU also ran for 200 yards earlier in the season against South Florida.  WKU currently ranks fourth in the Sun Belt and 53rd in the nation averaging 160.2 rushing yards per contest.

The running back duo of sophomore Bobby Rainey and senior Marell Booker chewed up a big amount of those 263 yards.  Rainey picked up 99 rushing yards for the second straight game - again tying a career high - on nine carries, while Booker ran for a season-high 62 yards on eight carries.  Both also had long rushes of 37 and 31 yards, respectively.  For Rainey, he is averaging 8.6 yards per rush over the last two games.

WKU's top three leading tacklers on the season added to their totals in a big way last week against FIU.  Mark Santoro and Thomas Majors accounted for 12 stops each, and Taurean Smith posted 10 tackles.  It was the second straight double-figure game for Majors and Smith they finished with 14 and 13 tackles, respectively, in the previous game at Navy.

This week's game between WKU and Louisiana-Lafayette will be the first meeting between the two schools since the finale of the 1998 season - a 38-24 ULL win in rainy conditions at Cajun Field.  In fact, both previous meetings between the two schools have been played in Lafayette.

After missing two games due to a hamstring injury, senior wide receiver Jake Gaelber returned to the Hilltopper offense last Saturday, finishing with three catches for 24 yards and a 22-yards rush.  His receiving numbers were significant as they moved him into some elite company.  Gaebler is now tied with Jay Davis for second on WKU's career receptions list with 131.  He has also moved into 10th all-time with 1,465 career receiving yards.  He is now 19 catches away from becoming WKU's career receptions leader and breaking Curtis Hamilton's record of 149.