Sun Belt Conference Football news & notes - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Sun Belt Conference Football news & notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Upcoming Games

November 27 - Sun Belt Network Wildcard Week (2:30 p.m.)

* Arkansas State at FIU (Sun Belt Network) – 2:30 p.m.

* Florida Atlantic at Middle Tennessee - 2:30 p.m.

* Louisiana-Lafayette at Louisiana-Monroe - 2:30 p.m.

* WKU at Troy - 2:30 p.m.

Kansas State at North Texas (ESPN3.com) - 3 p.m.

 

December 4

* Troy at Florida Atlantic (ESPNU) - 1 p.m.

* Middle Tennessee at FIU - 1 p.m.

 

Recent Results

November 13 - Sun Belt Network Wildcard Week

* WKU 36, Arkansas State 35 (OT) - 2 p.m.

* FIU 52, Troy 35 (Sun Belt Network) - 2:30 p.m.

* North Texas 23, Middle Tennessee 17 (ESPN3.com) - 2:30 p.m.

* Florida Atlantic 24, Louisiana-Lafayette 23 - 6 p.m.

#5 LSU 51, Louisiana-Monroe 0 (PPV) - 6 p.m.

 

November 20 - Sun Belt Network Wildcard Week

#17 South Carolina 69, Troy 24 (SEC Network) - 11:21 a.m.

Navy 35, Arkansas State 19 (CBS College Sports) - 2:30 p.m.

* Louisiana-Monroe 49, North Texas 37 - 2:30

Texas 51, Florida Atlantic 17 (Fox Sports) - 2:30 p.m.

* Middle Tennessee 27, WKU 26 (Sun Belt Network) - 3:15 p.m.

* FIU 38, Louisiana-Lafayette 17 - 6 p.m.

 

Bowl Spots on the Line in Final Two Weeks
Only two weekends of football remain as teams jockey for bowl spots and a shot at the Sun Belt Championship.  Notably, five Sun Belt Conference teams could still reach bowl eligibility.

Three teams can put themselves above the bowl eligibility threshold this upcoming Saturday as Troy, FIU and Louisiana-Monroe each have five wins and one more gets them to the magic number six. 

 Elsewhere, both Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic each have four wins with two games remaining.  The only problem with the Blue Raiders and the Owls is that they meet head-to-head this upcoming Saturday in a game that will eliminate one from a shot at a bowl game.

 FIU currently sits at 5-5 overall and 5-1 in conference play. With another win, the Panthers would not only become bowl eligible for the first time in program history, but they would also clinch a Sun Belt Conference Championship. FIU will close out the season with a pair of home games, starting this Saturday when they host the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

ASU will be trying to play spoiler for FIU, while Louisiana-Lafayette will try to do the same for Louisiana-Monroe and WKU can put more pressure on Troy as the Trojans search for bowl eligible status.

                               

Offensive Player of the Week

 

Kolton Browning (Louisiana-Monroe, Fr., QB)

Redshirt freshman quarterback Kolton Browning tied the ULM school record with five touchdown passes in the Warhawks' 49-37 victory over North Texas on Saturday. Browning completed 18-of-23 passes for 247 yards and the five touchdowns -- he also ran for 73 yards on 16 carries. Browning moved into third place on the ULM single-season completions list with 217 and needs just one to move into second; he also moved into a tie for sixth place on the ULM single-season touchdown passes list with 17 and ninth on the single-season passing yardage list with 2,388 yards.

 

Defensive Player of the Week

 

Rod Issac (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DB)

Issac turned in the biggest play of the day for the Blue Raider defense to key a fourth quarter comeback win on the road against WKU. The Hilltoppers were leading 26-13 and had the ball at the Blue Raiders 1-yard line on 4th and Goal when Issac picked up a fumble and went 99 yards for a touchdown. It matched the longest fumble return in school history. Issac also added six tackles and was instrumental in the Blue Raider secondary holding WKU to just 98 passing yards.

 

Special Teams Player of the Week

 

Bar'ee Boyd (WKU, Fr., LB)

As a team, WKU had not blocked a punt in over two years.  In the first quarter against Middle Tennessee, true freshman Bar'ee Boyd did it twice.  His first block after the opening possession set up the Hilltopper offense on the 24 yard line.  His second was recovered by Derrius Brooks in the end zone for a touchdown. 

 

Sun Belt Conference News & Notes

Sun Belt Conference Team News & Notes

 

Arkansas State Red Wolves
Already holding the single-season school records for total offense (3,260 yards), pass completions (244) and passing touchdowns (19), sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin broke the ASU records for passing yards (2,813), pass attempts (391) and total offensive plays (523) during the Navy game . . . Aplin is ranked among the top six players in Sun Belt Conference history for single-season touchdowns responsible for (3rd), passing yards (5th), total offense (4th), pass completions (6th) and passing touchdowns (T-6th) . . . ASU finished the Navy game with 365 yards of total offense, giving it over 300 yards in every game this season . . . A-State broke the school record for team passing yards (2,903) and team passing touchdowns (20) during the Navy game . . . ASU enters the FIU game need just four first downs and 254 yards of total offense to break the school records . . . Junior running back Jermaine Robertson rushed for a career-high 92 yards against the Midshipmen . . . Junior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton will enter the Florid International game needing six receptions to break the school record of 72 . . . Senior safety M.D. Jennings recorded a team-high 11 tackles against Navy, marking the second straight week and third time this year he has posted double-figure tackles.  Jennings is currently ranked second on the team and 11th in the Sun Belt Conference in tackles with 76 this year . . . A-State recorded two fumble recoveries against Navy and is now ranked 16th in the nation in turnovers gained with 24 . . . True freshman wide receiver and return specialist R.J. Fleming finished the Navy game with a career-high 96 kickoff return yards, including an 81-yard return that was the longest by an ASU player since 2001.  Fleming is averaging 52.7 yards per return on three attempts this season with two returns of at least 60 yards . . . ASU holds a 4-1 record all-time against Florida International and while the Red Wolves won last year's meeting 27-10 in Jonesboro, they dropped a 22-21 decision in 2008 that marks the last time they played in Miami.

 

Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic University's football team will use the week of Thanksgiving to prepare to face Middle Tennessee.  FAU will enter the game with a 4-6 record needing wins in each of the two remaining games to keep their bowl elligibility hopes alive. With everything on the line for the young Owls, Middle Tennessee promises to be an exciting game until the end with three of the first seven meetings coming down to the last play of the game. MTSU holds a 4-3 all-time mark against FAU.

 

FAU will be led by senior wide receiver Lester Jean who leads the Owls with 836 yards and six 2010 touchdowns. Fellow senior Rob Housler will head into the game after a career performance in his home state of Texas with two scores. Alfred Morris continues to lead the running game with 842 yards on the season, an average of 84.2 per game, ranked third in the league.

 

Defensively, Michael Lockley has a team leading 92 tackls and he supports a defensive line that is the deepest in the program's history with 67 tackles for a loss, on pace to break the program's tackle for a loss record at 81. The Owls, ranked No. 7 nationally in red zone defense entering last weekend's game versus Texas, demonstrated their strength shutting out Texas in their first red zone attempt and to field goals in two other tries.

 

FAU's Marcus Bartels, who is second on the squad with 86 total tackles, has been named to the Marty Burlsworth watch list.

 

Mickey Groody averaged 51.2 yards per punt (five punts for 256 yards) versus Texas to remain the Sun Belt's leading punter.

FIU Panthers
FIU took advantage of seven sacks and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, to upend the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 38-17. Led by Jarvis Wilson's career-best three sacks, the seven sacks tied a program record for FIU. The Panthers' three interceptions led to 17 points for FIU, including a 26-yard touchdown return by Junior Mertile. The sophomore from Miami was playing his first game as a defender after appearing in 23 games as a wideout.

 

On offense, Darriet Perry was once again a red-zone force as he scored three rushing touchdowns. The junior from Valdosta, Georgia now has 10 rushing touchdowns for the season, which is just two behind the single-season record set by Rashod Smith in 2004. Perry also has 15 rushing touchdowns for his career, which is also good for second place (R. Smith - 24).

 

Junior WR/KR T.Y. Hilton continued to etch his name in the FIU record books as he became the first Panther to ever eclipse the 5,000 all-purpose yard mark for his career. Hilton achieved the feat with a 49-yard reception in the third quarter. He finished the game with 5,006 career all-purpose yards.

 

Quarterback Wesley Carroll had one of his most efficient games as a Panther, completing 16-of-19 passes for a completion percentage of 84.2. The junior signal caller threw for 162 yards and one touchdown, that going to tight end Jonathan Faucher, who now has three receiving touchdowns on the season.

 

The Panthers currently sit at 5-5 overall and 5-1 in conference play. With another win, the Panthers would not only become bowl eligible for the first time in program history, but they would also clinch a Sun Belt Conference Championship. FIU will close out the season with a pair of home games, starting this Saturday when they host the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 3:30 p.m. (ET)

 

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana-Lafayette finishes the 2010 season at Louisiana-Monroe…The Cajuns and Warhawks have met in the season finale seven times, including five times in Sun Belt play…The Cajuns hold a 2-5 mark in those games…Louisiana-Lafayette is 22-23 all-time against Louisiana-Monroe…The Cajuns have won the last two meetings.

 

The Cajuns dropped to a 38-17 decision to FIU on November 20…Louisiana-Lafayette trailed by just seven points twice in the third quarter, but were outscored 14-0 in the final stanza…Ladarius Green hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass and Blaine Gautier ran for a 55-yard score – the first time the Cajuns scored on a run and a pass of at least 50 yards in the same game since Oct. 11, 2008 at North Texas (Chery 81-yard run / Desormeaux to Chery 57-yard pass)…Gautier ran for 112 yards and has 198 in two games as a starter…He is the first Cajuns QB to top 100 yards rushing since Michael Desormeaux (128) on November 22, 2008 at Troy.

 

Mackey Award semifinalist Ladarius Green (1,475) is only three yards from seventh on the Cajuns career receiving list…Up next is #7 Derrick Smith (1,478) and #6 Willie Culpepper (1,967)…On Saturday vs. FIU, Green (6-103, TD) posted the best performance among the eight semifinalists…He enters the final week first in receiving yards and TD catches and third in receptions among the semifinalists…Green has caught at least one touchdown pass from all three of the Cajuns starting quarterbacks this season.

 

Spencer Ortego punted three times vs. FIU and not only were all three of his punts downed inside the FIU 20-yard line, but all three punts were inside the six-yard line… His three kicks combined to leave just six yards to spare as he dropped kicks at the one-yard line, two-yard line and six-yard line… The senior punter is a 2010 nominee for the Burlsworth Trophy and was a First Team All-Sun Belt selection in 2009.

 

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
Kolton Browning's five touchdown passes against North Texas are tied for the most in ULM history; four other players have thrown five touchdown passes in the game with the most recent coming in 1998 by Andre Vige against Portland State.  Browning moved into a tie for sixth place on the ULM single-season touchdown passes list with 17.  He also moved into third place on the ULM single-season completions list with 217; he needs one to move into second

 

Running back Frank Goodin moved into third place on the ULM career rushing list with 2,849 passing Joe Profit -- his second quarter touchdown run pushed him past Profit.  Goodin rushed for a season-high 75 yards on 17 carries against the Mean Green.

 

Luther Ambrose moved into a tie for sixth place on the ULM single-season receptions list with 61 receptions.  Ambrose's 140 yards receiving are a career-high. 

 

The Warhawks have forced a turnover in 20 of 23 games under defensive coordinator Troy Reffett.  ULM has forced 40 turnovers in 23 games.

 

Jyruss Edward's 54-yard kickoff return in the second quarter was the longest of the season by ULM.  Edwards' touchdown in the fourth quarter was his fourth rushing touchdown of this season

 

Je'Ron Hamm's 48-yard touchdown reception tied Tavarese Maye's 48-yard touchdown reception against Troy for the longest touchdown play of the season for ULM; it was also tied for the fourth-longest play of the season from ULM.

 

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Junior Eric Russell recorded his first career touchdown when he brought back a kickoff return in the first quarter against WKU to tie the score. Russell's return covered 97 yards to tie the third longest in school history with Reuben Justice who had a 97 yarder in 1969 against Morehead State. Russell's return was the first by the Blue Raiders since Phillip Tanner had a 92-yard return against North Texas in 2008 and is the longest in the FBS era surpassing Damon Nickson's 94 yarder in 2006 (FAU).

 

Senior Jamari Lattimore blocked his second kick of the season when he rejected a WKU PAT attempt in the first quarter and Jarrett Crittenton blocked a potential game-winning field goal for his first career block. Lattimore also blocked a field goal earlier this year against Troy. It marked the fourth and fifth blocked kicks of the season for the Blue Raiders and the 18th and 19th under Rick Stockstill.

 

Senior Rod Issac came up with perhaps the biggest play of his career when he returned a fumble 99 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The return matched the longest in school history with Ray Neal's 1964 99-yard fumble return against Muskingum in the Grantland Rice Bowl. The touchdown was the third of Issac's career and the second this season. He also had a 70-yard interception return for a score against ULM.

 

PK Alan Gendreau connected on two field goals against WKU to give him 37 for his career. That total leaves him just one back of Garth Petrilli (1991-94) on the all-time list for third place. Gendreau is also in reach of second place Brian Kelly (2000-03) who owns 40 career three-pointers.

 

North Texas Mean Green
This week's game with Kansas State will be the final North Texas football game to ever be played at Theron J. Fouts Field.  In 59 seasons of football at the historic venue, North Texas has a 155-99-7 record going into this week's game.  The stadium has been home to 14 conference championship teams and 15 undefeated seasons.  There have been 22 All-America selections and 65 NFL draft picks that played their home games at Fouts, including the likes of "Mean" Joe Greene, Abner Haynes and Cedrick Hardman.  A total of 11 different head coaches have worked the North Texas sideline at Fouts including Odus Mittchell, whose 51 wins there is more than any other coach in school history.  Current Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder was on the friendly sideline at Fouts for three seasons under legendary head coach Hayden Fry from 1976-78, enjoying an 8-1 record with the Mean Green at Fouts during that time.            

 

North Texas junior running back Lance Dunbar is inching closer to the top three on the North Texas career-rushing leaders list.  Dunbar stands alone in fourth place on the exclusive list with 2,839, which is 281 yards shy of JaQuay Wilburn who holds third place with 3,120 yards.  His 28 career rushing touchdowns put him alone in third place on that list, one shy of Hall of Famer Scott Davis who stands second with 29 career rushing touchdowns.    

 

North Texas senior linebacker Craig Robertson ranks 14th in the nation in tackles with an average of 10.6 per game while Mean Green junior running back Lance Dunbar ranks 10th in rushing with an average of 116.6 yards per game.  North Texas has never had a defender rank in the top 20 nationally since the NCAA adopted its current defensive reporting policy in 2004.  If Dunbar can maintain his position, it will mark the fourth time in the last eight years that a Mean Green running back finished in the top 15.   

 

Troy Trojans
The Trojans faced a nationally ranked opponent for the 17th time since moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2001. Of the 16 previous games against ranked foes, 15 were played away from Veterans Memorial Stadium. Troy's only victory over a nationally ranked foe came at home in 2004 against then 17th-ranked Missouri.

 

This is the third time the Trojans have played a team that entered play ranked 17th. Troy faced two 17th ranked teams in 2004, downing Missouri 24-14 and falling at LSU 24-20.

 

Jerrel Jernigan's third quarter TD reception broke a tie for fourth on the Troy career list. Jernigan now has 17 career TD catches, one ahead of Bobby Enslen (1967-68). He is now two behind Perry Griggs (1973-76) for third on that list.

 

Coach Larry Blakeney has posted a 43-26 record during his career in games played in November and he is 88-12-1 overall in his career in home games. Only twice (1997 & 2005) in Blakeney's previous 19 seasons have the Trojans lost two home games in the same season,  and have never in back-to-back home games.

 

The last time a Troy team dropped consecutive home games was during the 1989 season under Robert Maddox. Those losses came to  West Georgia and Miss. College.

 

Over the last two games the Troy defense has surrendered 121 points, which is a new school record for total points allowed in consecutive games. It is just the sixth time in school history that a Troy team has allowed as many as 100 combined points in consecutive games. The 121 points breaks the old mark of 117 set in 1928 in consecutive losses to Jacksonville State (20-0) and Marion Military Institute (97-0).

 

WKU Hilltoppers
The Hilltoppers had not blocked a punt since the game at Troy on Nov. 8, 2008.  But came up with two in the first quarter of Saturday's contest.  Both came from freshman Bar'ee Boyd.  The second was recovered in the end zone by Derrius Brooks for a touchdown.

 

Bobby Rainey recorded his fourth straight 100-yard game rushing game, finishing with a career-high 248 yards on the ground.  He became the third player in Hilltopper history to hit the century mark in four straight games, and the first since Lerron Moore in 2003 to do so.  Moore actually hit 100 yards in five straight contest.

 

With a school-record 45 carries on the day, Rainey broke both the WKU and Sun Belt Conference single-season record for rushing attempts in a season.  He enters the final game of the year with 313 carries.  The previous Hilltopper mark was 303 set by Jon Frazier in 2002, and the previous league record was 307 set by Patrick Cobb of North Texas in 2003.

 

Rainey – who currently ranks fourth in the nation in rushing behind only Oregon's LaMichael James, UConn's Jordan Todman and Michigan's Denard Robinson – is now third on both the WKU and Sun Belt single-season rushing lists with 1,492 yards on the year.

 

WKU has entered the fourth quarter with a lead in five of its seven Sun Belt Conference games this season. s picked up 39 rushing yards and a running score.

 

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