New Orleans (Sun Belt) - The Sun Belt Conference's Top Ten Moments will be selected from this final list. Each member institution submitted up to ten nominations and write-ups in early September and the schools trimmed down their preliminary lists to the final list below. These nominations are now available for fan voting until December 6. To vote for your list of Top Ten Moments please go to: https://secure.sportssystems.com/events2/?eventKey=7ea73a09-da78-43de-8f00-b7d265c45f29
ASU Wins SBC, Accepts Bid to New Orleans Bowl
It was hard to tell if it was a presentation or a huge pep rally. Or maybe it was both, as Arkansas State University's football team stood in the middle of the ASU Convocation Center arena floor to accept an invitation to play in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl. Jay Cicero, the President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, stepped to the podium and formally extended an invitation to Head Coach Steve Roberts for the Indians to play in the Dec. 20 game in Lafayette, La. ASU President Dr. Les Wyatt signed the approval letter while the team, coaching staff, support staff, band, cheerleaders, dance team and hundreds of fans cheered. Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters then presented Coach Roberts with the 2005 Sun Belt Conference championship trophy. Arkansas State finished the season at 5-2 in Sun Belt Conference play to earn the bowl bid, and completed the year at 6-6 overall after falling to Southern Miss, 31-19 in the bowl game.
ASU Stadium Hosts Sellout Crowd For Game Against Memphis
An ASU Stadium record crowd of 30,427 was on hand as Arkansas State opened its 2004 home schedule by hosting the 25th-ranked Memphis Tigers. In addition to the record crowd, The game reached epic proportions in several areas. The contest lasted four hours and five minutes, making it one of the longest regular-season games in school history. Both offenses rolled up enormous numbers and ASU quarterback Nick Noce threw for a school record 418 yards. The game featured 774 yards of passing and 1,041 yards of combined offense as Memphis rallied for a 47-35 victory.
ASU's Carrington Named SBC Student-Athlete of the Year
The Sun Belt Conference announced that Alex Carrington, a four-year football letterman at Arkansas State from 2006-09, was named the league's 2009-10 Male Student-Athlete of the Year, marking the first time an ASU student-athlete has ever received the conference's most prestigious annual honor. Carrington, who was also selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, added the honor to his long list of accomplishments built during his five-year stay at ASU that began with his 2005 redshirt season and ended in December of 2009 when he graduated with his bachelor's degree in Psychology. In his final year at ASU, he was named First Team All-Sun Belt Conference, ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-District VI, Preseason SBC Defensive Player of the Year and the Little Rock Touchdown Club ASU Player of the Year. Additionally, he competed in the Senior Bowl and was named to the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, Lott Trophy Watch List, Lombardi Trophy Watch List and Ted Hendricks Award Watch List. The Tupelo, Miss. native had one of the most dominating seasons in the history of the Sun Belt Conference in 2008 when he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year after recording 53 tackles, 10.5 sacks and one interception. He ranked tied for 14th in the nation in sacks and seventh in tackles for loss. His first of three consecutive all-conference seasons came in 2007 as a sophomore when he recorded 38 tackles and five tackles for loss on an ASU defense ranked No. 1 in the league.
Owls Claim Victory over Minnesota
Florida Atlantic University has played one of the country's most difficult schedules since the inception of the program. Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger said at the inception that he would schedule the best teams in the land.
The Owls had played "Advanced Training Games", as dubbed by Schnellenberger for the program's first seven years. In year five, FAU played host to Oklahoma State at Dolphin Stadium. In 2007 it was Minnesota that would visit the Owls.
FAU would go toe-to-toe in the first quarter and would score 21 unanswered points in the second to hold a 35-14 margin at the half. The Owls would use five interceptions and three fumbles to secure the 42-39 victory.
With Minnesota driving, the ball on the FAU 36, freshman Tavious Polo hauled in his third interception of the game on the FAU 29 to end all Gopher hopes of a comeback and the moment of celebration began. Polo, not knowing what to do with the ball, raced across the field to celebrating teammates.
The Owls would take a knee and wait for the stands to empty on the field in celebration of the team's second victory of the season and first against a Big Ten team and first victory by a Sun Belt team against the Big Ten.
Just days later, Rusty Smith and Tavious Polo were honored as National and SBC offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively. It was also at that time that the Board of Trustees gave the approval to explore the stadium possibilities. The celebration continued.
Owls Impress in New Orleans Bowl Win
Bowl games and the experience for players, coaches, members of the University's community and its alum have during bowl week are endless. But there is no better moment than the trophy celebration following the victory. For FAU, it was the celebration of a new program coming of age just seven years into its existence and two years after becoming bowl eligible. It is the moment of seniors handing the trophy to a University President who had championed the mission. It was Rusty Smith hoisting the MVP trophy after a New Orleans Bowl record breaking night. It is the knowledge that every FAU student, faculty, staff and alum have watched and supported you throughout the night.
Motor City Bowl Makes Owls Back-to Back Bowl Champs
FAU was chosen to travel to Detroit where they would serve as host to Central Michigan. It would be billed as an offensive game with two of the country's best quarterbacks. However, it was the defense that dominated the game and defense that gave FAU the 24-21 victory over CMU.
Rusty Smith was honored as the game's MVP. Frantz Joseph as the game's Defensive MVP and both celebrated as Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger and Lloyd Carr exchanged the championship trophy. It was the second bowl celebration in as many years for the Owls with each holding a different meaning. The first was accomplishment, the second relief that they had truly lived up to expectation and would become the players that earned the Sun Belt Conference back-to-back bowl victories, the first time in the league's history.
The back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008 also noted FAU as the only team in the state of Florida to earn bowl victories in both 2007 and 2008.
FIU Closes Out the Orange Bowl in Style
In the midst of a 23-game losing streak, FIU was looking to close out the 2007 season with a win. They not only did that, but they closed out the legendary Orange Bowl with a victory, defeating the North Texas Mean Green 38-19. The win was the first for Mario Cristobal, and it marked the last college football game played at the historic Orange Bowl.
FIU Moves to a New Cage
In 2008, FIU had a new home. After playing a season at the Orange Bowl, FIU opened its brand-new on-campus stadium on September 20 against USF. The Bulls came into FIU Stadium ranked 12th in the country and as heavy favorites. The Panthers would give USF all they could handle, pushing the Bulls to the limit, but ultimately lost 17-9.
Largest Home Stadium Crowd in school and Sun Belt history
On Sept. 5, 2009, 41,357 packed Cajun Field for the season opener between the Ragin' Cajuns and the Southern Jaguars. The overflow crowd was treated to a halftime show by one of college football's elite marching bands, as Southern's "Human Jukebox" performed a tribute to the late-Michael Jackson. The Cajuns took the lead for good on wide receiver Richie Falgout's NCAA-record fourth career touchdown pass (on four career attempts) en route to a 42-19 victory.
Cajuns beat Big XII Kansas State on 48-yard field goal with 0:32 left
The Sun Belt has had its share of upsets, but not many as memorable as the Cajuns' victory over Kansas State. ULL led 14-2 at the half, but trailed 15-14 with 8:08 remaining on the clock. A late drive inched the Cajuns closer, but rookie kicker Tyler Albrecht faced a 48-yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining to win the game. If that wasn't enough pressure, add a wet surface and the fact that it was Albrecht's first career field goal attempt. None of it mattered, as his kick sailed through the uprights giving the Cajuns the win.
Down 21-0 at eventual C-USA Champion Houston, Cajuns win 31-28
In 2006, senior quarterback Kevin Kolb led Houston to 10 wins, including a C-USA Championship game win over Southern Miss, and a Liberty Bowl appearance. So when the Cougars led the Cajuns 21-0 in the second quarter, most thought the game was over. An 18-play, 85-yard drive culminated in a four-yard touchdown pass by SBC Preseason Player of the Year Jerry Babb to tight end Kevin Belton with 62 seconds remaining to give ULL an improbable comeback.
ULM's 21-14 Victory at Alabama
ULM stunned the nation and a crowd of 92,000 fans inside Bryant-Denny Stadium when the Warhawks defeated Alabama 21-14 on Nov. 17, 2007. The Warhawks held Alabama without a touchdown over the game's final 42 minutes and forced four Crimson Tide turnovers in what is Alabama's last loss at home (heading into the 2010 season). Calvin Dawson rushed for 91 yards, Kinsmon Lancaster completed 14-of-24 pass attempts and Quintez Secka intercepted a pair of John Parker Wilson passes - Secka was awarded a helmet sticker by the ESPN College GameDay Final crew. It was ULM's third victory over a Southeastern Conference school, but easily the biggest victory in the school's Division I history.
ULM's 33-30 Triple Overtime Victory at Florida Atlantic
A Calvin Dawson 31-yard run in the third overtime lifted ULM past Florida Atlantic 33-30 on Oct. 27, 2007, in one of the most thrilling Sun Belt Conference games to date. The final minute of regulation and overtime featured a game-tying touchdown, a successful fake field goal, a missed 28-yard field goal to win the game at the end of regulation, two missed field goals in overtime, a blocked field goal and the eventual game-winning touchdown run on a 2nd-and-16. ULM's thrilling victory over the Owls was the only Sun Belt Conference blemish on Florida Atlantic's record as it went on to claim the league title that year. Dawson's run came with the Warhawks facing a 2nd-and-16 on the 31-yard line and trailing by three in the third overtime - ULM's all-time leading rushing turned the corner and tip-toed the sideline for the game-winner.
ULM Defeats Troy 31-30 with Last-Second Heroics by Back Up Quarterback
Sophomore quarterback Trey Revell had not taken a snap all game long, but when starting signal caller Kinsmon Lancaster suffered an injury on the previous drive Revell was called on with the game on the line. ULM trailed Troy 30-25 with five minutes remaining and the ball on its own 28 yard-line. Revell was a perfect 4-for-4 for 41 yards on the drive and also rushed for 41 yards. Facing a 3rd-and-6 on the Troy 7-yard line, Revell connected with J.J. McCoy for a 7-yard touchdown pass with just 34 seconds to play in the game to give the Warhawks a 31-30 lead. Troy returned the ensuing kickoff out to the ULM 46-yard line and following a 7-yard completion attempted a 56-yard field goal. The kick was online but bounced off the crossbar to give the Warhawks the victory - it marked the second straight season the Warhawks handed the eventual Sun Belt champion its only conference loss of the season.
Blue Raiders win over Vanderbilt in 2001
In Middle Tennessee's first-ever game as a Sun Belt member it traveled a short distance to take on the SEC's Vanderbilt Commodores. The Blue Raiders picked up the conferences first-ever win as the combination of Wes Counts and Dwone Hicks was too much for the Commodores. Counts completed 27 of 36 passes for 308 yards while Hicks added 203 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to give MT a 37-28 victory. It went down as the Blue Raiders' first-ever win against the SEC.
Dwight Dasher 2009 New Orleans Bowl MVP
Quarterback Dwight Dasher became the first bowl Most Valuable Player since the Blue Raiders joined the FBS ranks in 1999 with a record-setting performance in the Louisiana Superdome on national television. Dasher accounted for 81 percent of the team's offense with 363 total yards and four touchdowns to lead MT to a 42-32 win over Southern Miss. Along with 162 yards passing, Dasher rushed for a career-high 201 yards to set a new New Orleans Bowl rushing record. His 201-yard effort also went down as the most rushing yards by a quarterback in NCAA bowl history by breaking Vince Young's mark of 200 yards set against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Final Drive at Maryland in 2009
Even though he would prefer it be called "the Blue Raider Drive", there's no doubt who was in command of Middle Tennessee's stunning game-winning drive on the road against Maryland in 2009. Needing a field goal to win, quarterback Dwight Dasher took the Blue Raiders 73 yards in eight plays with no timeouts to set up Alan Gendreau's game-clinching three-pointer. Dasher was a perfect 4-for-4 through the air for 65 yards, including a beautiful 35-yard strike to Chris McClover along the left sideline to key the come-from-behind win. It marked the second straight upset of the Terps and the first time the Blue Raiders have ever defeated an ACC team on the road.
North Texas Wins 2002 New Orleans Bowl
North Texas claimed its second consecutive invitation to the New Orleans Bowl in 2002. Not content on just playing in the game, the Mean Green defeated Conference-USA co-Champion Cincinnati for the their first Bowl win since 1946.
The Streak Begins
After an 0-5 start to the season there was not much optimism surrounding the Mean Green camp in 2001. The attitude shifted quickly as the Mean Green defeated 5-0 Middle Tennessee 24-21 for the start of a 26-game Sun Belt winning streak.
National Rushing Champs
With Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas, North Texas became the first school in NCAA history to have two national rushing champions play in the same backfield. Cobbs won the NCAA rushing title in 2003 and Thomas in 2004.
"The Miracle in Murfreesboro"
Down 20-7 at Middle Tennessee with less than three minutes to play and the season in the balance, Omar Haugabook leads the Trojans on a pair of TD drives, sandwiched around a successful onside kick.
Trojans Upset Missouri
The goal posts at Movie Gallery Stadium come down after the Trojans 24-14 victory over 19th ranked Missouri.
New Orleans Bowl Champions
The Trojans earned their first victory in a bowl game with a thrashing of Rice 41-17 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
WKU Tops Rival Middle Tennessee
WKU wins at Middle Tennessee 20-17, marking the program's first win over an FBS opponent since the school's Board of Regents voted to approve the program's move to Division I-A.
Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium Opener
WKU defeats Murray State 50-9 in the inaugural game in Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium in front of the largest crowd to see a college football game in the history of Bowling Green (22,297).
Taggart Named Head Coach
WKU names Willie Taggart head football coach. Taggart spent the last three seasons as running backs coach at Stanford and previously spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at WKU from 1999-2006 serving as co-offensive coordinator for WKU's 2002 I-AA National Championship team. A standout player at quarterback who set 11 school records for the Hilltoppers from 1995-98, Taggart is one of only four players in WKU's 91-year football history to have his jersey retired. He becomes WKU's 17th head football coach, but only the seventh since 1948.