Sun Belt Conference Football news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Recent Results

September 1

* FIU 41, North Texas 16 - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

(1) Kentucky 14, Western Kentucky 3 - 8:15 p.m. (ESPNU)

September 3

Purdue 27 , Middle Tennessee 24- 11:00 a.m. (Big Ten Network)

Illinois 33, Arkansas State 15 - 2:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

#6 Florida State 34, Louisiana-Monroe 0 - 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Clemson 43, Troy 19 - 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

#22 Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3 - 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

#9 Oklahoma State 61, Louisiana-Lafayette 34 - 6 p.m. (Fox College Sports)

(1) denotes game played at LP Field - Nashville, Tenn.

Upcoming Games

September 9

FIU at Louisville - 6 p.m. (ESPN)

September 10

Florida Atlantic at Michigan State - 11 a.m. (ESPN2)

Houston at North Texas - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

Georgia Tech at Middle Tennessee - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

Navy at Western Kentucky - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

Grambling State at Louisiana-Monroe - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

Louisiana-Lafayette at Kent State - 6 p.m.

Memphis at Arkansas State - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

All times Central (CT) and subject to change

* denotes Sun Belt Conference game

TV carrier in parenthesis

Sun Belt News and Notes

FIU Heads to Primetime; Apogee Stadium unveiled; 9/11 Observed

A full slate of non-conference action awaits Sun Belt Conference teams in the second week of the 2011 season.

FIU, winners of its season opener over North Texas, will face Louisville in primetime ESPN action on Friday night. In addition to the Friday night game, all but one game this coming weekend will be broadcasted. In fact, 22 of the first 23 games of the 2011 season are being broadcasted.

Among the highlights for this weekend will be the grand opening of North Texas' brand new, state-of-the-art facility – Apogee Stadium. A full house is expected for the home debut of the Mean Green who hosts Houston at 6 p.m. Saturday night.

Six Sun Belt Conference member institutions hosting home football games on Saturday, September 10 will join to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, South Alabama and Western Kentucky are all scheduled to host home games this upcoming Saturday. Each school will participate in a moment of silence and a special recognition of first responders. Throughout these home games a total of 3,000 American flags will also be given to fans.

Some institutions will also have added ceremonies in remembrance as Arkansas State and Western Kentucky are planning flyovers. Additional ceremonies are taking place throughout the league.

Sun Belt Players of the Week (Selected by Media Panel)

Offensive Player of the Week

T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Sr., WR)

After an offseason filled with accolades, much pressure and expectations were placed on FIU's Heisman hopeful T.Y. Hilton. The senior from Miami delivered in his first game of the season against North Texas (9/1), racking up 283 all-purpose yards, 12 shy of his own school record. The 283 yards were the most by any player in the country on week one. Hilton wasted no time showing why he was named the Co-Preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as he took the opening kickoff 62 yards to set up the FIU offense with a short field. On FIU's next drive, Hilton scored on the first play when he left a defender in the dust for a 60-yard touchdown catch. Hilton finished the contest with 132 receiving yards on seven catches, 49 rushing yards on two attempts, 92 yards on two kickoff returns, and 10 yards on a pair of punt returns.

Defensive Player of the Week

Eric Russell (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DB)

Russell made the most of his opportunities defensively in the season opener at Purdue. He topped all Middle Tennessee tacklers with 13 stops, including 11 solo. He was credited with his first career sack in the second quarter and added an interception early in the same period to halt a Boilermaker drive. He brought back the turnover 34 yards, the longest interception return of the afternoon. Adding to his versatility, Russell was the main kick and punt returner as well for the Blue Raiders. He finished with three kickoff returns for 85 yards, including a long of 40, to set up MT with solid field possession each time. He then tacked on two punt returns for 14 yards. His 133 all-purpose yards led all players.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Hendrix Brakefield (WKU, So., P)

WKU second-year punter Hendrix Brakefield averaged 44.6 yards per kick on eight punts in a return to his hometown to face Kentucky Thursday night in Nashville. Of his eight punts, three went for over 50 yards – including a 58 yarder. He also had two punts downed inside the Kentucky 10 yard line. In fact, of the seven punts that forced Kentucky to start in their own territory, the Wildcats were unable to move the ball over midfield on five of those possessions.

Sun Belt in the BCS

The Sun Belt Conference is a BCS Conference. In fact, the Sun Belt Conference is one of just 11 BCS Conferences. The Sun Belt Conference champion will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if that team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or if that team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS standings and its ranking is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the of BCS bowls. In the first 10 years of the BCS arrangement, more than $100 million was distributed to conferences that do not have an annual automatic berth to one of the BCS bowls. Nine percent of the net revenues from the BCS arrangement is guaranteed in aggregate to Conference USA, the Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic Conferences for their participation in the BCS arrangement. When a team from one of those five conferences plays in BCS bowl game, those conferences receive an additional nine percent of net revenues. When more than one team from those conferences play in a BCS bowl game, those conferences will receive an additional $4.5 million for each additional team.

Sun Belt Football Membership

The Sun Belt Conference is currently comprised of nine football playing members – Arkansas State (founding football member in 2001), Florida Atlantic (joined league as football member in 2005), FIU (joined league as football member in 2005), Louisiana-Lafayette (founding football member in 2001), Louisiana-Monroe (founding football member in 2001), Middle Tennessee (founding football member in 2001), North Texas (founding football member in 2001), Troy (joined league as football member in 2004) and Western Kentucky University (joined league as football member in 2009). The league will expand to 10 football playing members when South Alabama enters in 2012.

Sun Belt Conference Bowl Partners

The Sun Belt Conference is currently in the second year of four year partnerships with the Bowl and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Sun Belt teams will represent the league in the games following the 2011, 2012 and 2013 regular seasons.

Since the 2005 football season – the first season following major college football realignment – the Sun Belt Conference ranks fifth out of the 11 FBS conferences in postseason bowl game winning percentage. In fact, the Sun Belt Conference ranks ahead of noted "Big Six" leagues – the Big 12, ACC and the Big Ten. Furthermore, the Sun Belt Conference outpaces its non-automatic qualifying BCS partners in the WAC, Conference USA and the MAC.

Sun Belt Conference Bowl Apperances Since 2005 (6-5 Record)

2005 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Southern Miss 31, Arkansas State 19

2006 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Troy 41, Rice 17

2006 Motor City Bowl – Central Michigan 31, Middle Tennessee 14

2007 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Florida Atlantic 44, Memphis 17

2008 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Southern Miss 30, Troy 27 (OT)

2008 Motor City Bowl – Florida Atlantic 24, Central Michigan 21

2009 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Middle Tennessee 42, Southern Miss 32

2009 GMAC Bowl - Central Michigan 44, Troy 41 (OT)

2010 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Troy 48, Ohio 21

2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - FIU 34, Toledo 32

2011 Bowl - Miami (Ohio) 35, Middle Tennesee 21

Dunbar, Rainey Featured in USA Today

The Sun Belt Conference's two most noted running backs, who also happened to be among the national rushing leaders in 2010, were featured in USA Today during the 2011 offseason. Will comparing the two running backs in his August 16 article, Greg Rosentien wrote "Dunbar and Rainey both believe they are primed for big senior seasons. But no matter how the two running backs fare this year, one thing is certain: It'll be fun to watch."

Schnellenberger to Retire at Seasons End

Florida Atlantic University's Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger announced Thursday, August 11 that he will retire after the 2011 football season.

Schnellenberger, the only head coach in the FAU football program's existence, welcomed the idea of bringing football to FAU in 1998 and has been the driving force behind the Owls. Since 2001, the Owls have had eight All-Americans, three National Player of the Week honorees, two bowl victories, two bowl MVPs, one defensive MVP, one Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, one preseason Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year and one Sun Belt Conference title. An average of 18.7 football players have earned a 3.0+ each semester, and more than 20 players have signed professional contracts, while two were drafted by the NFL.

Schnellenberger's career has been highly chronicled throughout the years, from winning the first National Championship as coach at the University of Miami in 1983 to ushering the University of Louisville from near obscurity to a top-20 national ranking. The legendary program-builder has been at the helm for six bowl games and has a perfect 6-0 bowl game record, the most bowl victories for a coach with a perfect record.

Schnellenberger is also among the top-10 active coaches in total victories, and one of 10 active coaches who have captured a national title. Schnellenberger has one national title as a head coach and three national titles while an assistant at the University of Alabama under Head Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Schnellenberger also was the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and was a part of the staff that earned a perfect 17-0 season, the only team in the NFL's history to finish the season undefeated and move on to win a Super Bowl championship.

North Texas, Florida Atlantic Debut New Stadiums

North Texas will open its brand new, state-of-the-art art football stadium on September 10th against Houston. Among the features of the new stadium will be bowl seating close to the field with maximum sight lines, 21 luxury suites tailor-made for comfort and entertainment and a club level with food and beverage service and chair-back seating.

Due to open on October 15, FAU Stadium is the final phase of the university's Innovation Village, a multi-purpose project which will include four additional apartment-style residence halls and 130,000 square feet of retail shopping space. Two buildings from the Innovation Village, the FAU Alumni Center and the new Recreation and Wellness Center, have recently opened.

Blakeney, Schnellenberger in Active Coaches Top Ten

Troy's Larry Blakeney and Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger find themselves in elite company as both rank in the top ten for active career wins by head coaches. The Sun Belt Conference is the only conference with two coaches in the top ten.

Sun Belt Conference Debuts Three New Coaches in 2011

Arkansas State, North Texas and Louisiana-Lafayette all brought in new head coaches during the 2011 offseason. The league has never brought in more than two new coaches in a single season while brining in two new coaches in three seasons (2009, 2002, 2001), one new head coach on four occasions (2006, 2005, 2004, 2003) and twice going through an offseason of no head coaching changes (2008, 2007).

2011 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Awards Candidates

The Maxwell Award – College Player of the Year: Bobby Rainey, WKU, Sr., RB; The Bednarik Award – Nation's Top Defensive Player: Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy, Jr., DE; The John Mackey Award – Nation's Top Tight End:

Jack Doyle, WKU, Sr., TE and Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., TE; Fred Biletnikoff Award – Nation's Top Wide Receiver: Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., TE and Dwayne Frampton, Arkansas State, Sr., WR and T.Y. Hilton, FIU, Sr., WR; Lou Groza Award – Nation's Best Placekicker: Jack Griffin, FIU, Jr., K; Bronko Nagurski Award – Nation's Top Defensive Player: Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy, Jr., DE; Outland Trophy – Nation's Best Interior Lineman: James Brown – Troy, Sr., OT; Rimington Trophy – Nation's Best Center: Tom Castilaw – Arkansas State, Sr., C and Colin Boss – Middle Tennessee, Sr., C; Walter Camp – College Player of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy, Jr., DE; Davey O' Brien Award – Nation's Best Quarterback: Corey Robinson - Troy, So., QB; Lombardi Award – Nation's Lineman of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy, Jr., DE; Doak Walker Award – Nation's Best Running Back: Lance Dunbar, North Texas, Sr., RB and Alfred Morris, Florida Atlantic, Sr., RB and Bobby Rainey, WKU, Sr., RB; Manning Award – Nation's Best Quarterback: Corey Robinson - Troy, So., QB.

Sun Belt Conference Setting Records for Television Broadcasts

Over the last five years the Sun Belt Conference has seen its television appearances double. In fact, the Sun Belt set a new record for single season telecasts during the 2010-11 season with a total of 72 Sun Belt controlled broadcasts. ESPN has helped with the rise in television numbers as the league saw a record 21 football games feature Sun Belt teams during the 2010 season. That record number of 21 games has already been broken for the 2011 season as 22 games have already been selected to hit the ESPN airwaves - and even more games could be selected for this season.

MT's Gendreau on Lowe's Senior Class Award list

Middle Tennessee placekicker Alan Gendreau is one of 30 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) student-athletes who excel both on and off the field selected as a candidate today for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release. Gendreau is a two-time First Team All-SBC pick and currently ranks third all-time in field goals made and extra points. The Apopka, Fla., native is the most accurate kicker in school history at 79.1 percent (38-48) which includes a career long 55-yard boot in a win at ULL in 2010. Gendreau is a music major who participates in the Schola Cantorum which is designed for upper division voice majors.

Arkansas State News and Notes

Saturday against Illinois, Arkansas State recorded its first safety since Dec. 16, 2008 (at Troy). Sophomore DL Amos Draper was responsible for the tackle in the end zone, his eighth career tackle for loss.

Three ASU players recorded a sack against the Illini: Senior DE Brandon Joiner recorded his first of the season and the fifth of his career. Senior DE Elroy Brown posted his first and now has 3.5 for his career. Junior DB Don Jones recorded the first of his career.

Senior DE Justin Robertson recorded a career-high eight tackles and tied his career high with one tackle for loss.

Junior QB Ryan Aplin moved into fourth place for all-time career pass completions, now with 349 to his credit. Aplin also moved into seventh place for all-time career passing yards, now with 4,118 to his credit.

Aplin threw for at least 200 yards for the 11th time of his career. All 11 games have come over his last 15 games played.

Senior punter Neely Sullivent had a 67-yard punt in the second quarter that was the longest of his career, and the longest by any ASU player since since 1998 (Ryan Smith vs. Ole Miss, 69 yards).

Sophomore kicker Bobby Zalud kicked a career-long 49 yard field goal in the second quarter, which was also tied the ninth longest in school history. The last time an ASU player made a FG that covered at least 49 yards was 2009 (Ryan Wilbourn vs. ULM).

Florida Atlantic News and Notes

FAU's Graham Wilbert drew his first collegiate start and ended the day 14-26 for 107 yards. FAU's ground attack was held to just 30 net yards on the night which complicated matters for the Owls passing attack. Sophomore Nexon Dorvilus led all receives with three receptions for 55 yards, his longest was a 28-yard snatch. Sixth -year senior Willie Floyd gave the Owls a spark with five kick returns for a total 130 yards.

Defensively, the Owls were led by a familiar face in Marcus Bartels who had a team and game high seven tackles, including four solo. Bartels also had the first of three FAU interceptions and a return of 33 yards. The three interceptions matched a game high three versus FIU in 2010. Bartels was also a major part of that game with a total of two. The senior also inched closer to becoming the program's all-time tackle leader among defensive backs, needing 23 to surpass Corey Small. He did pass his brother who stood at 220. Marcus now has 223. Linebacker Toney Moore drew his first start and recorded his first career interception. Keith Reaser a regular in 2010 also had his first career interception.

This Week, the Owls will travel to Lansing, Michigan facing Michigan State for the second time since 2008. FAU played host to MSU in 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit. Graham Wilbert is expected to start. He will look to improve upon his 107 passing yards recorded in his first outing under center. Building a running game will be a must after Alfred Morris was held to 54 yards a year ago versus the Spartans and the team was held to a 30 yard low against UF. Tight end Darian Williams had a strong outing in 2010 and will need to help spread the defense for the Owls to be successful. FAU did use its 3-4 defense to apply more pressure with seven tackles for a loss of 14 yards and forced three turnovers and will hope to repeat at MSU. The secondary carried a large burden for FAU in week one with the defensive back providing 19 of the 55 total tackles. Bartels recorded seven while Brently Harstad and Keith Reaser added six each.

FIU News and Notes

Coming off a 41-16 victory over North Texas, FIU's first in a season-opener since 2004, FIU heads to Louisville, Ky. on Friday, September 9 to take on the Louisville Cardinals in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN. This marks the second time ever that FIU will play on ESPN's flagship. The Panthers and Cardinals have never met on the football field before, but the Panthers are no strangers to BIG EAST competition, having played five BIG EAST opponents in the past, including two last year (Rutgers & Pitt).

After an offseason filled with accolades, much pressure and expectations were placed on FIU's Heisman hopeful T.Y. Hilton. The senior from Miami delivered in his first game of the season against North Texas, racking up 283 all-purpose yards, 12 shy of his own school record. The 283 yards were the most by any player in the country on week one. Hilton wasted no time showing why he was named the Co-Preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as he took the opening kickoff 62 yards to set up the FIU offense with a short field. On FIU's next drive, Hilton scored on the first play when he left a defender in the dust for a 60-yard touchdown catch. Hilton finished the contest with 132 receiving yards on seven catches, 49 rushing yards on two attempts, 92 yards on two kickoff returns, and 10 yards on a pair of punt returns.

Running backs Darriet Perry and Kedrick Rhodes posses different skillsets, Perry being a power back and Rhodes possessing more speed, but both were extremely effective against North Texas combining for 171 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries. Rhodes earned the start, and immediately made an impact, scoring two of FIU's first three touchdowns. Perry came off the bench, and made his mark, scoring a pair of touchdowns to give him 23 for his FIU career.

Even though North Texas scored 16 points, none of them came at the expense of the defense as the points came off two fumble returns and a safety.

Louisiana-Lafayette News and Notes

The Cajuns fell to No. 9 Oklahoma State in the season opener. ULL struggled in the second quarter, allowing 24 points, but played nearly even in the second half. The Cajuns received interception returns for a touchdown by Dwight "Bill" Bentley (38 yards) and Jemarlous Moten (50 yards). Blaine Gautier was the starting quarterback.

The Cajuns will travel to Kent, Ohio to face the Golden Flashes of Kent State. The trip marks the return visit from a Sept. 20, 2008 meeting at Cajun Field. ULL was victorious in that game by a 44-27 score. Then-freshman Ladarius Green hauled in a 55-yard TD pass in the third quarter – his first career TD. Dwight "Bill" Bentley made three tackles. ULL is 0-4 all-time in road games vs. the MAC.

ULL then returns home for their home opener against Nicholls State. Head coach Mark Hudspeth makes his Cajun Field debut and will do so likely in front of the largest season ticket base in school history. The Cajuns and Colonels last met on Sept. 1, 2001, a 20-0 ULL victory.

All three of the Cajuns quarterbacks completed at least one pass in the season opener. Six different players attempted a rush, while 10 Cajuns have already caught a pass. Darryl Surgent became the first player on the Cajuns roster to return a punt – his 31-yard return gave the team its best field position of the game. Surgent now has 352 all-purpose yards in two career games vs. OSU. After starting the game 1-for-11 on third down, the Cajuns converted four of their last five.

The Cajuns began the season with just 25 combined starts from their offensive linemen (Odom-9, Plouhar-8, Bates-7, Huval-1). Newcomers Daniel Quave, Jared Martin, Marvin Martin and Mykhael Quave all saw time in the opener.

Louisiana-Monroe News and Notes

ULM became the only school in either FBS or FCS to open the season with a ranked opponent each of the past four seasons when they took the field at No. 5 Florida State on Saturday.

The Warhawks held FSU to just 92 yards rushing in the game.

Three true freshmen started the contest for the Warhawks -- OL Joseph Treadwell, OL Ben Risenhoover, K Justin Maton -- while true freshman defensive end Joey Gautney and wide receiver Tyler Cain also saw the field.

Against the Seminoles, the Warhawks forced a turnover and recorded a pair of sacks; ULM has forced a turnover in 22-of-25 games and recorded a sack in 24-of-25 games under defensive coordinator Troy Reffett.

The Warhawks open the home portion of their schedule this weekend when they welcome Grambling State to Malone Stadium. The only other time the two schools met a Malone Stadium record crowd of 30,101 watched the Warhawks win in 2007.

Middle Tennessee News and Notes

Junior wide receiver Tavarres Jefferson had a career game against Purdue. The Nashville, Tenn., native hauled in seven receptions for 61 yards, including a huge third down catch midway in the 4th quarter to extend a drive. Jefferson's previous high in catches was five.

QB Logan Kilgore enjoyed a strong opener on the road by completing 27 of 45 passes for a career-high 330 yards. Kilgore also tossed two touchdown passes which also ranked as a personal-best. Kilgore now owns two career 200-yard passing games with the other one coming last year at Louisiana-Lafayette when he tallied 207 yards in a road win.

After a strong fall camp, WR Malcolm Beyah vowed to return to his freshman year form and he got off to a good start against Purdue. The senior hauled in four receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown. He now has nine career touchdown receptions.

Middle Tennessee enjoyed a strong game on special teams in the season opener. The Blue Raiders forced a fumble on a Purdue punt, downed a punt at the 2-yard line and had another one downed at the 1-yard line but it was negated by a penalty. Nathaniel Toulson punted five times for a 40.4 yard average and Alan Gendreauconnected on both his PATs and a 42-yard field goal.

Safety Eric Russell registered his first career interception when he picked off a Purdue pass in the second quarter. The senior returned it 34 yards and later added his first career sack, also in the second quarter. He topped the Blue Raider defense with 13 tackles, including 11 solo stops.

North Texas News and Notes

North Texas is 55-23-2 all-time in home opening games, but has lost its last four. The last home-opening win was a 24-6 victory over SMU in 2006. The Mean Green did not win any home-openers under previous head coach Todd Dodge. North Texas has faced a Conference USA opponent in four of its last six home-openers, defeating SMU in 2006 while losing to Tulsa in 2005 and 2008 and losing to Rice last year. North Texas is 1-0 in games opening new stadiums, defeating North Dakota to open Fouts Field in 1952.

Although the two schools are separated by less than 300 miles, this will be only the 13 meeting between North Texas and Houston and the first since 1998. In fact, the Mean Green and the Cougars have met only once in the last 30 years after meeting 11 times from 1946-1980. The two teams met twice when they were both members of the Missouri Valley Conference in 1958 and 1959. Overall, North Texas is 7-5 against Houston, including a 4-3 record at home. This week's game is the first of a two-game series with the Cougars, which concludes in Houston next year.

North Texas head coach Dan McCarney should have a Heisman Trophy vote this year. McCarney will have a heavy hand in trying to stop some of the top Heisman candidates – all in the first three games. Last week the Mean Green faced preseason All-America wide receiver and Heisman hopeful T.Y. Hilton. This week he will face perhaps the top quarterback in the nation in Case Keenum. Both Hilton and Keenum lived up to their respective billing in week one with Hilton having 283 all-purpose yards and Keenum completing 30-of-40 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. It won't get any easier for the Mean Green in week three when they go to Alabama to play Trent Richardson, who is one of the best running backs in the nation.

Possibly lost in the defeat at FIU last week was a highlight catch by sophomore wide receiver Brelan Chancellor. The catch earned ESPN's top play in Friday's countdown of the top 10 plays of the day. Chancellor tipped the ball to himself and then had to drag his toes along the sideline and regain possession, which resulted in a 19-yard reception.

Troy News and Notes

Shawn Southward scored his 20th career rushing touchdown in the first quarter. The TD tied him for sixth on the Troy career list with current Trojans defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell. Two players are tied for fourth in the career list, one ahead of Southward – Arrid Gregory and DuJuan Harris. Southward finished the game with 43 yards rushing, moving him into the career top 20 at Troy for rushing yards. He now has 1,268 career rushing yards and sits 20th on the Trojan career rushing list.

Senior Barry Valcin made a triumphant return to the field for Troy by recording his second career interception. Valcin missed the entire 2010 season after suffering an ankle injury two days prior to the season-opener. His 50-yard return set up a Troy field goal.

Senior Michael Taylor missed his first PAT attempt of the year, hitting the right upright. Taylor came into the season having hit 93-of-97 PAT kicks in his career.

Junior D.J. Taylor ended the third quarter with a career-best 56-yard run. His previous best rush was 35 yards at Florida Atlantic in 2010.

The Trojans gave up 30 points in the second half, the most they have surrendered in the closing half since LSU scored 37 on November 15, 2008. Troy gave up 31 in the second half and overtime to Central Michigan at the 2010 GMAC Bowl.

After holding Clemson without a conversion on third down in the first half (0-8), the Tigers came back converting five of eight third down chances in the second half.

WKU News and Notes

Despite a narrow 14-3 loss to Kentucky in the 2011 season opener, WKU's defense put together one of its best efforts in recent years, limiting the Wildcats to just 190 yards of total offense. In fact, that was the fewest yards the Hilltoppers have ever allowed to a FBS school, and the fewest given up to any Division I team (FBS or FCS) since allowing 146 yards to Western Illinois in 2005.

Making his first career start at linebacker, sophomore Andrew Jackson recorded a team-high 12 tackles against the Wildcats. He also registered a sack and a pair of tackles for loss.

After recording just eight interceptions during the entire 2010 season, the Hilltopper defense picked off three passes against Kentucky. Two Hilltoppers – sophomore DB Vince Williams and senior DL Jared Clendenin posted their first career picks in the contest. The third INT came from Derrius Brooks, who led the Toppers with three interceptions last season.

Hilltopper All-America running back Bobby Rainey recorded his sixth straight 100-yard rushing effort dating back to last season as he went for 105 yards on 28 carries against UK. Rainey's streak now stands alone as the second-longest streak in school history, and is just two shy of equaling Antwan Floyd's school record.

Rainey also enters this Saturday's contest with Navy needing just 48 yards to become the sixth Hilltopper in history to rush for 3,000 yards in a career.

Coming in 2012 - South Alabama News and Notes

Redshirt freshman Kendall Houston came off the bench in the season opener, collecting 78 yards rushing and two scores in the second half to lead the Jaguars to their 18th straight victory; it was the first time he has reached the end zone twice since the Jags' Oct. 9 win over Missouri S&T last fall.

In his first career start last week, Enrique Williams posted a team-high 11 stops with 1½ behind the line of scrimmage; he also forced a fumble in the third quarter. The 11 tackles equalled a school game record first set by Justin Dunn on Oct. 10, 2009, in a win over Georgia Military J.C.

B.J. Scott chipped in with 10 stops in the UWA victory, the first time that multiple Jaguars have recorded a double-digit tackle total in the same contest. Eight of those were of the solo variety, setting a USA game record in the category, and he also was credited with one of the Jags' two passes broken up in his USA debut.

OLB/S Ken Barefield matched a career high with seven total tackles in USA's season-opening victory including recording his first career sack; the play, which resulted in a loss of 12 yards, ended a Tiger drive in the first quarter that began at the USA-28 after an interception.

Despite starting with an average field position of their own 40-yard line, the Tigers managed just one touchdown and 10 points against the Jag defense while collecting only 268 total yards; it was the fewest yards allowed by USA since Lamar had 160 on Oct. 16 a year ago.