Sun Belt Conference Football Week 1 news and notes

Upcoming Games

September 11

(#) Michigan State at Florida Atlantic (ESPNU) - 11 a.m.

* Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt Network) - 2:30 p.m.

(!) Arkansas at Louisiana-Monroe (Fox Sports Net) - 6 p.m.

Rice at North Texas - 6 p.m.

Troy at Oklahoma State - 6 p.m.

Austin Peay at Middle Tennessee - 6 p.m.

WKU at Kentucky (CSS) - 6:30 p.m.

Rutgers at FIU (ESPN+) - 7 p.m.

September 18

North Texas at Army (CBS College Sports) - 11 a.m.

Troy at UAB - 3 p.m.

Indiana at WKU (Big Ten Network) - 4 p.m.

FIU at Texas A&M - 6 p.m.

Middle Tennessee at Memphis - 6 p.m.

* Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas State (Sun Belt Network) - 7 p.m.

Recent Results

September 2

Minnesota 24, Middle Tennessee 17 (ESPNU) - 6:30 p.m.

Florida Atlantic 32, UAB 31 - 7 p.m.

September 4

#23 Georgia 55, Louisiana-Lafayette 7 (SEC Network) - 11:21 a.m.

Clemson 35, North Texas 10 (ESPNU) - 2:30 p.m.

Troy 30, Bowling Green 27 (Troy/ISP Network) - 6 p.m.

#8 Nebraska 49, WKU 10 (PPV) - 6 p.m.

#22 Auburn 52, Arkansas State 26 (Fox Sports Net) - 6 p.m.

Sun Belt Conference Team News & Notes

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Arkansas State opens Sun Belt Conference play this week at Louisiana-Lafayette in the first of three consecutive league games . . . ASU's first three SBC games include outings against two of the top four teams in the conference's preseason coaches poll (UL Lafayette, 4th; Troy, 2nd) . . . Prior to this season, the earliest A-State had ever played a Sun Belt Conference opponent was the 3rd game of the season (Troy in 2009). A-State has not played 3 of its first 4 games against league foes since the 1995 season when it was a member of the Big West Conference . . . Arkansas State holds an all-time record of 18-19-1 against Louisiana-Lafayette in the series that dates back to the 1953 season. As Sun Belt Conference opponents, the Ragin' Cajuns lead the series 5-3. UL Lafayette won last season's meeting in Jonesboro, 18-21, but the home team had won the previous eight meetings. Eight of the last 10 meetings have been decided by six points or less, including the last two years.

Arkansas State had its two game winning streak in season openers snapped with a 52-26 setback at 22nd-ranked Auburn . . . Six players started their first career game at ASU, including Dorvus Woods (DL), Justin Robertson (DE), Walter Moody (CB), Darron Edwards (CB) and Tausean Holmes (DB) on defense and Anthony Robinson (WR) on offense. 21 players competed in their first career game at A-State.

ASU's 26 points scored against Auburn were its most against a top-25 opponent since scoring 35 against No. 25 Memphis in 2004 . . . The Red Wolves piled up 323 passing yards against Auburn, the 10th most in school history for a single game and the most since recording a school-record 418 against Memphis in 2004 . . . ASU attempted 49 passes against Auburn, matching the 4th most in school history, and its 33 completions are the second most in school history behind only 34 against San Jose State in 1995 . . . Ryan Aplin posted the best passing numbers of his young career against No. 22 Auburn. Aplin completed 28-of-42 passes for 278 yards, all career highs, and one touchdown to help lead Arkansas State to 366 yards of total offense. Aplin's 28 completions tied the third most in school history for a single game and are the most by an ASU quarterback since 2004.

Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic University's football team opened he 2010 campaign at UAB. Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger was focused on returning home with a 2-1 mark versus the Blazers while the team was looking for redemption after an embarrassing loss, 56-29, at UAB in 2009. The 2009 contest marked the beginning of the Jeff Van Camp era drawing his first collegiate start. He played winning football in that game but it wouldn't be enough as the defense allowed UAB to score on the first eight possessions. 2010 would be different. The game was scoreless with neither team moving the ball until UAB score with four minutes remaining in the opening quarter. They would score again taking a 14-0 lead into the second quarter. Van Camp connected with Lester Jean for a 25-yard score but it would be the following touchdown that would give the Owls offensive life. Van Camp went over the top to Jean who extended one had and hauled in the pass for a 77-yard score. It would take three more touchdowns and a last second blocked field goal to realize both Schnellenberger's and the team's goal, 32-31. The Owls will next travel to Detroit, MI where FAU, 1-0, will play host to Michigan State University at Ford Field. Kick-off is 12:01 and the game will be shown on ESPNU. MSU holds a 2-0 series advantage.

FIU Panthers

The 2010 FIU football season kicks off on September 11 and not a day too soon. For the second-consecutive year, FIU had to sit back and watch as most of the teams accross college football got their first taste of game action. Like last year, FIU opened the 2010 season with a bye week.

However, unlike last year, and unlike every year other than the inaugural 2002 season, FIU gets to open its season inside The Cage. For the past seven seasons, FIU has had to go on the road to open its season, but not this year. In 2010, the Panthers and their fans are ready to welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to FIU Stadium. Last year the Panthers went up to Piscataway, N.J. and gave the Scarlet Knights all they could handle, dropping a 23-15 decision. Down 23-0 in the fourth quarter, FIU mounted a furious comeback led by T.Y. Hilton, who scored two touchdown in the final stanza. However, FIU couldn't recover a late onside kick as Rutgers held on for the victory.

Last year's contest isn't the only history between these two squads. FIU head coach Mario Cristobal served as an assistant coach under Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano from 2001-03. Furthermore, current Rutgers tight ends coach Phil Galiano spent three seasons (2007-09) as FIU's defensive coordinator.

In 2010, the FIU Panthers will look very different to opposing teams. Not only will several impact players make their on-field debut, but two impact players will make their debut on the FIU sidelines as well. New offensive and defensive coordinators Scott Satterfield and Geoff Collins will bring a new look to the FIU attack and defense as they begin their first seasons with the Panthers. Satterfield comes to FIU after successful stints at Appalachian State and Toledo. Collins brings his scheme to FIU after being helping UCF be one of the best defenses in Conference USA.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

The Cajuns face Arkansas State on Sept. 11th in what is the earliest SBC start ever for ULL. The Cajuns have a seven-game home winning streak against ASU dating back to 1994. The Red Wolves have lost eight consecutive games at Cajun Field (also lost the 2005 New Orleans Bowl - played in Lafayette). The last ASU victory at Cajun Field came on Nov. 21, 1992. ULL is 5-3 vs. ASU while members of the Sun Belt Conference.

Last week No. 23 Georgia took a 55-7 victory in front of 92,746 at Sanford Stadium. Ladarius Green led the Cajuns with four receptions for 87 yards. Daylon McCoy led the defense with nine total tackles. Georgia native Bernard Smith had seven total tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Eight different players had a TFL. Lance Kelley had an interception, his first since the game-clinching pick at Arkansas State last season.

Entering the season, QB Chris Masson had thrown TD passes to five different active receivers, but never to his biggest target in six-foot-six Ladarius Green (Mackey Watch List). That all changed in the season opener, as Masson launched a 60-yard TD pass to Green in the second quarter.

ULL has won all six games in which quarterback Chris Masson appeared under center and did NOT throw an interception. Conversely, ULL is 1-9 in games where Masson throws a pick.

In 2009, the Cajuns offense scored 7 times with less than 90 seconds left in either the 2nd or 4th quarter. ULL started 2010 by continuing that trend, scoring a touchdown at No. 23 Georgia with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

ULM is the only FBC or FCS team to open its season against a ranked opponent in each of the past three seasons -- #11 Auburn (2008), #2 Texas (2009) and #19 Arkansas (2010)…the Warhawks have averaged a third place finish in the Sun Belt over the past six seasons…offensive coordinator Steve Farmer is the 10th youngest coordinator in the FBS…running back Frank Goodin needs just nine rushing touchdowns and 874 rushing yards to become ULM's all-time leader in both categories…after squaring off against Arkansas, ULM will have played an SEC team every year since moving up to FBS in 1994…ULM allowed 102.6 fewer yards per game on the ground last season than in 2008…wide receiver Luther Ambrose is the second fastest football player in the country – he finished third at the NCAA 100m Outdoor Championships in June, only Florida's Jeff Demps is faster.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

RB Phillip Tanner scored the Blue Raiders' first touchdown of the 2010 season when he ran in from seven yards out from a "Wildcat" position. It marked Tanner's 21st rushing touchdown of his career and inches him closer to the Blue Raiders' top ten list. Tanner needs two more rushing scores to tie Ricky Martin for 10th place. It was also Tanner's 23rd career touchdown and he needs just one more score of any kind to tie Kerry Wright and Ricky Martin for 10th place on the all-time touchdowns scored list.

Sophomore quarterback Logan Kilgore made his first career start on national television against Minnesota and turned in a strong effort. Kilgore completed 13 of 18 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. After the Blue Raiders fell behind 14-0, Kilgore engineered a comeback that saw MT score 17 unanswered points.

Thursday's game was the 11th nationally televised game for the Blue Raiders under Rick Stockstill which is the most by any team in the Sun Belt Conference during that span. It marked the 13th national broadcast in school history.

Middle Tennessee saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end against Minnesota. The Blue Raiders' streak was the third longest in the country entering tonight's play.

Middle Tennessee announced a crowd of 25,908 on Thursday and that goes down as the fourth largest in school history. The largest crowd in stadium history happened last year against Memphis when 28,105 saw the Blue Raiders take down the Tigers. Three of the top five crowds in school history has happened under head coach Rick Stockstill.

North Texas Mean Green

North Texas had a 23:44 advantage in time of possession against Clemson which is the largest advantage by North Texas in a game since returning to Div. I-A in 1995. The Mean Green's 83 total offensive plays has only been topped once – 84 against Ball State last season.

Lance Dunbar has rushed for over 100 yards in nine of the last 10 games dating back to the fourth game of the 2009 season. The last time a North Texas back had nine 100-yard games in a 10-game stretch was when Patrick Cobbs did it in 2003.

North Texas outgained Clemson in total offense 462-423 making it the eighth time in the last 13 games that North Texas has outgained its opponent despite a 2-11 record in those games.

Senior linebacker Craig Robertson recorded his ninth career interception against Clemson and is now just two picks out of the No. 5 position in North Texas' career interceptions leaders list.

North Texas 269 yards passing against Clemson was more than the Mean Green had in 10 of its 12 games during the 2009 season.

Sophomore kicker Trent Deans recorded his first career points at North Texas, kicking a PAT in the first half and a 25-yard field goal in the second half.

Troy Trojans

Troy improved to 49-35-6 all-time in 90 football season-opening games with the victory over Bowling Green. The victory ran the Trojans' streak of consecutive home opening victories to 24, dating back to 1986. Trojans' coach Larry Blakeney is a perfect 20-0 in home openers and improved to 86-11-1 in his career in home games.

The Trojans had 10 players make their first career starts in the game against Bowling Green. On offense there were four – QB Corey Robinson, OL Jacob Creech, WR Chip Reeves and TE Donnie Crosby. On defense there were six – Ends Mario Addison and Jonathan Massaquoi, tackles Emmanuel Dudle and Riley Flowers, LB Xavier Lamb and DB Chris Pickett. Overall, there were 15 players who made their collegiate debut for the Trojans in the victory over Bowling Green.

Senior Jerrel Jernigan had 193 all-purpose yards in the game against Bowling Green to set a new school career record. Jernigan now has 4,085 career all-purpose yards, surpassing the mark of 4,079 set by Perry Griggs from 1973-76. Jernigan had 58 yards rushing, 40 receiving, 34 on punt returns and 61 on kickoff returns against BGSU.

Junior QB Jamie Hampton saw his first action on the field for the Trojans since October 7, 2008, when he suffered a knee injury. Hampton completed 2-of-3 passes for 12 yards and rushed for 25 yards.

The Trojans found themselves in a tie game at halftime for the first time in a long time. Prior to the 17-17 tie with Bowling Green, the last time the Trojans were tied at halftime of a game was December 4, 1999, against Florida A&M, a stretch of 121 games.

WKU Hilltoppers

Bobby Rainey rushed for a career-high 155 yards against Nebraska on Saturday – the most yards the Cornhuskers have allowed to an opponent in 26 games. Nebraska ranked ninth against the run nationally in 2009. Rainey also set new career highs in rushing attempts (30), receiving yards (36) and yards from scrimmage (191).

The Hilltoppers got on the board for the first time with a Casey Tinius 25-yard field goal with 8:20 remaining in the third quarter. That extended WKU's streak to 96 games without begin held scoreless. It was last shut out on Sept. 14, 2002 by Western Illinois (14-0).

Of WKU's 62 offensive plays on Saturday, only three went for negative yards against one of the top defenses in the nation. Of those three negative plays, one was a sack, one was a QB kneel at the end of the half, and the other was a tipped pass that was caught by an offensive lineman for a 2-yard loss.

In his first game in uniform, freshman return man Willie McNeal racked up 169 all-purpose yards, including 132 yards on kickoff returns – an average of 22 yards per return.

The Hilltoppers remain on the road this week, visiting Kentucky for a Saturday night game.

WKU won the time-of-possession battle against the Cornhuskers, holding the ball for 33:20. It also ran for 179 yards against the Huskers – the most rushing yards given up by Nebraska since Baylor tallied 216 rushing yards in Lincoln on Oct. 25, 2008.