Sun Belt Conference Football news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Upcoming Games

October 6

* Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee - 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

October 8

FIU at Akron - 2 p.m.

* Florida Atlantic at North Texas - 6:30 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

* Arkansas State at Louisiana-Monroe - 6 p.m.

* Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN3) - 6 p.m.

Recent Results

October 1

* Arkansas State 26, WKU 22 - 3 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

Duke 31, FIU 27 - 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

Middle Tennessee 38, Memphis 31 - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

Tulsa 41, North Texas 24 - 6 p.m.

* Louisiana-Lafayette 37, Florida Atlantic 34 - 6 p.m. (Cox4)

Troy 24, UAB 23 - 6 p.m.

All times Central (CT) and subject to change

* denotes Sun Belt Conference game

TV carrier in parenthesis

Sun Belt News and Notes

Cajuns Move to 4-1, Troy and MT Top Instate Foes

With its win over Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette improved its record to 4-1. The 4-1 start to the season for the Ragin' Cajuns is the best start to the season for a Sun Belt team since Middle Tennessee opened the 2001 season with an undefeated 5-0 record.

Having already defeated the preseason Sun Belt favorite in FIU, the Cajuns now turn their attention to the Troy Trojans who have won at least a share of the Sun Belt Championship for five consecutive seasons. The Cajuns play host to Troy in a Saturday ESPN3 clash, but the Trojans have won the last five meetings against the Cajuns.

Troy is coming off of a win over in-state rival UAB. Troy improved to 31-6 all-time under Coach Blakeney against in-state opponents with the win over UAB. In similar fashion, Middle Tennessee defeated in-state rival Memphis on Saturday. The Blue Raiders moved their record to 10-2 against in-state opponents with tonight's triumph, including a 5-1 mark under head coach Rick Stockstill.

The Blue Raiders will face Western Kentucky in a short week turnaround as ESPNU will televise Thursday night's rivalry meeting.

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

Offensive Player of the Week

Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State, Jr., QB)

ASU junior quarterback Ryan Aplin set a new ASU record for completions in a game when he connected on 37 attempts Saturday in the Red Wolves' 26-22 win at Western Kentucky. Aplin passed for a season-high 396 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and also caught a touchdown pass against the Hilltoppers – his first career reception. With 2:39 remaining in the game, Aplin led the Red Wolves on what proved to be the game-winning drive when he completed 5-of-6 passes on a 9-play drive that ended with ASU in the end zone with 43 seconds remaining. The drive included a key 18-yard completion on third-and-17 to give ASU a first down at the WKU 11. For the game, Aplin completed passes to eight different receivers, topped 300 yards passing for the third time in his career and 200 yards for the 15th. He accounted for 424 yards of total offense and two TD's in the game, his 37 completions are the ninth-most by any player in the nation this season, and he topped the 5,000-yard mark for career passing yardage with 5,213.

Defensive Players of the Week

Lance Kelley (Louisiana-Lafayette, LB)

Linebacker Lance Kelley helped the Cajuns defeat Florida Atlantic with eight tackles, a tackle-for-loss and an interception…His tackle-for loss came with FAU facing a third-and-three at the Cajuns seven-yard line, which forced the Owls to settle for a field goal…Kelley's pick came with the Cajuns holding a slim 21-20 third quarter lead…He currently leads the Cajuns and ranks fourth in the Sun Belt Conference with 39 total tackles.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Brett Baer (Louisiana-Lafayette, K/P)

Cajuns kicker/punter Brett Baer turned in an epic performance for the second straight week, scoring 13 points in the Cajuns 37-34 victory…He connected on field goals of 47 yards and 46 yards, before hitting the game-winning 26-yard field goal as time expired...It's the first win the for the Cajuns in the final 10 seconds of regulation since 2003…Baer also added four punts for 160 yards, an average of 40.0 per punt…He currently leads the Sun Belt Conference in scoring.

Arkansas State News and Notes

Junior QB Ryan Aplin took over 3rd place for career completions by an ASU player, finishing the game with 440 to his credit. He also topped the 5,000-yard mark for his career, with his 396 passing yards raising his career total to 5,213. He threw for over 200 yards for the 15th time of his career. All 15 have come over the last 19 games. Aplin threw for over 300 yards with a season] high 396 yards. It was his first 300] yard passing performance this season and the third of his career. His 396 yards were the 4th most in school history. Aplin threw his 5th TD pass of the season and 29th of his career. Aplin finished the game with a school] record 37 completions on 49 attempts. The 49 attempts tie the third most in school history.

Senior WR Dwayne Frampton threw his second career TD pass. He also threw a TD pass in ASU's last game of the 2010 season against FIU. Frampton extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 17 games – every game of his career at ASU. Frampton recorded his 2nd receiving TD of the season, moving him into a tie for the 10th most in a season with 8 to his credit. Frampton recorded a season] high 9 receptions to give him 103 for his career. He is the sixth player in school history to post 100 or more receptions.

Senior safety A.J. Hills recorded a career] high 11 tackles. He had 7 tackles, just two shy of his career high, in the first half alone. His 11 tackles are the most by an A-State player this season and just three short of the Sun Belt high.

A-State has now posted at least one sack its last six games dating back to last season.

A]State didn't record an interception its first two games, but now has at least one in each of the last three games and has five total over that span. This was the 2nd game this season that A] State posted at least 2 picks (also had 2 against Virginia Tech).

The ASU defense is the first this year to hold WKU running back Bobby Rainey under 100 yards, which also snapped a streak of 8 games with 100 yards rushing for Rainey.

Florida Atlantic News and Notes

Florida Atlantic University's football team saw its hopes for the first victory of the 2011 slip away with 1:48 remaining in the game and a 9 play 65-yard drive that ended with a game-winning field goal and no time on the clock Saturday night in Lafayette, LA. Despite the loss there were several positives in the game. Senior Marcus Bartels Marcus Bartels collected two tackles to become the program's all-time tackle leader for defensive backs. Graham Wilbert got the offense going and hit multiple receivers for 219 passing yards. Darian Williams was one recipient scoring his first touch down since October 3, 2009. Fellow tight end Nexon Dorvilus was also found in the end zone by Wilbert. Alfred Morris had a season high 91 yards a scored his first rushing TD of 2011. Defensively, the Owls forced two fumbles recovered by senior Jamere Johnson, the second of his career, and sophomore Treon Howard who collected his first career fumble.

The Owls will hit the road once again, this time at the University of North Texas. It will be FAU's fifth-consecutive road game of 2011. FAU is 6-1 versus the Eagles and has never lost at UNT. It will also be an opportunity for FAU to see the UNT's new stadium in preparation for the following week when the Owls play for the first time on the Boca Raton campus in the new completed $70 million, 30,000 seat facility.

FIU News and Notes

Coming off a 31-27 loss to Duke, FIU travels to Akron this week to take on the 1-4 Zips. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back losses to Louisiana and Duke, which came on the heels of a three-game winning streak to start the season. Akron dropped a 31-23 decision to conference foe Eastern Michigan last week.

FIU quarterback Wes Carroll has been incredibly accurate this year for the Panthers, completing 62.3% of his passes. Even more impressive has been his ability to take care of the football, as he hasn't thrown an interception all year. In fact, Carroll has thrown 120 consecutive passes without an interception, dating back to the 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (12/26/10). Carroll's efficiency rating of 147.73 is second among all Sun Belt Conference QBs. On the season, Carroll has completed 71-of-114 passes (62.3 %) for 924 yards and six touchdowns. Carroll had his best game of the year, and arguably the best of his career, against Duke (10/1) where he completed 25-of-39 passes for 348 yards and three scores.

With T.Y. Hilton nursing an injury against Louisiana (9/24), someone needed to step up in the receiving and return games, and junior receiver Wayne Times did just that. Times caught just two passes, but he racked up 75 yards. In the return game, Times had 158 yards, including an FIU season-long 69-yard kickoff return at the end of the first half that set up an FIU touchdown to cut Louisiana's lead to just one point going into the break. Times followed that up with another strong performance against Duke, catching a career-best seven passes for 54 yards and one touchdown.

Against Duke, FIU went back to its two-pronged attack on the ground as Darriet Perry and Kedrick Rhodes combined to carry 29 times for 163 yards. Perry led the way with 102 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards while Rhodes added 61 on the ground and 60 in the receiving game.

Hampered by injuries, T.Y. Hilton was limited to just six catches and 62 yards combined against UCF and Louisiana. Against Duke. Hilton wasted no time showing that he is back as he hit the Blue Devils for 102 receiving yards on five catches, including a 63-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Louisiana-Lafayette News and Notes

The Cajuns defeated Florida Atlantic by the final score of 37-34 thanks to a 26-yard field goal by Brett Baer. It was the Cajuns first victory in the final 10 seconds of a game since Sean Comiskey's 21-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining versus New Mexico State on Oct. 16, 2003.

The Cajuns 4-1 start is eerily similar to the beginning of the 1986 season. That year, the Cajuns opened with a loss to Oklahoma State and followed with a pair of road wins and a victory over an FCS opponent. The '86 squad defeated Tulsa at home to move to 4-1 on the year.

Wide receiver Harry Peoples exploded for 12 receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown. His 12 receptions tied a Cajuns record at Cajun Field with former receiver Brandon Stokley, who also had 12 catches vs. Louisiana Tech on Nov. 4, 1995. The last Cajuns player to make at least 10 receptions in a game was B.J. Crist, who hauled in 10 passes at FIU on Oct. 2, 2004.

The Cajuns three-game home stand resumes with Troy. The Trojans enter the game fresh off a victory over UAB in which they trailed by nine points midway through the fourth quarter. Troy has won five straight games in the series. Since 2006, the Cajuns have allowed Troy to score an average of 43ppg.

The home stand finishes with a homecoming contest vs. North Texas. The Cajuns have won five of the last six meetings, but four of those were decided by less than 10 points each.

The Cajuns lead the SBC in several key statistical categories, including; scoring (33ppg), total touchdowns (19), pass defense efficiency (124.8), turnover margin (+3), punt return yards and average, interceptions (7), interception return yards (172), interception TDs (4), sacks (17), opponent third down (28.9%).

Several times over the last 25 years the Cajuns have been able to get off to a good start. The Cajuns were 4-2 in 2009, 2006 and 1989; 6-2 in 1993; 4-1 in 1986 and 4-0/5-1 in 1988.

Louisiana-Monroe News and Notes

Darius Prelow extended his team-high consecutive game started streak (offense & defense) to 18 games.

Justin Manton's 43-yard field goal on ULM's opening drive of the game was the second of his career and the longest of his career. Manton's 43-yard field goal was ULM's longest since Radi Jabour booted a 43-yard FG against North Texas on Nov. 7, 2009. ULM has scored on its opening possession of the game in two straight contests.

ULM has forced a turnover in 25-of-28 games under defensive coordinator Troy Reffett and in all four games this season.

Kolton Browning moved into seventh place on the ULM career pass completions list with 300 passing former Super Bowl quarterback Stan Humphries. Browning moved into eighth place on the ULM career total offense list with 3,562 yards. Browning's rushing touchdown in the third quarter was the fifth of his career and first of the season.

Tavarese Maye's 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the second of his career and first this season.

ULM scored 14 points in the third quarter against Iowa; the Warhawks had scored just seven second half points all season.

Jyruss Edwards moved into seventh place on the ULM career kickoff return list with 1,025 yards.

ULM's 293 passing yards are the most this season; the previous high was 232 last week at TCU.

Middle Tennessee News and Notes

Sophomore quarterback Logan Kilgore went over the 1,000-yard passing mark for the season after just four games following a 277-yard effort against Memphis. Kilgore becomes fifth signal-caller at MT to reach 1,000 yards through first four games of a season since the Blue Raiders joined the FBS ranks in 1999. The other four were Wes Counts in 1999 (1,068 yards), Clint Marks in 2004 (1,072 yards), Joe Craddock in 2008 (1,076 yards), and Dwight Dasher in 2009 (1,028 yards).

With tonight's win, head coach Rick Stockstill moved into a fourth-place tie with Andy McCollum for coaching victories at Middle Tennessee with 34. Stockstill was previously tied for fifth with Frank Faulkinberry and needs just one more to tie Alfred Miles for third on the all-time list.

PK Alan Gendreau's second quarter field goal was the 40th of his career and his second of the season. The 40 three-pointers ties Gendreau with Brian Kelly for second place on the Blue Raiders' all-time field goals made list. Gendreau now needs two more field goals to tie Nick Bazaldua (North Texas) and Sean Comisky (ULL) for third place on the Sun Belt's career list.

Middle Tennessee captured its fourth victory under Rick Stockstill when scoring in the final minute of regulation. The Blue Raiders' touchdown with 11 seconds remaining was its first under 60 seconds since Alan Gendreau nailed a 19-yard field goal as time expired at Maryland in 2009. Other last-minute wins came against ULM in 2007 and then versus FAU in 2008 on a hail mary pass.

The Blue Raiders moved their record to 10-2 against in-state opponents with tonight's triumph, including a 5-1 mark under head coach Rick Stockstill. Three of the wins were on the road against Vanderbilt and three others have now come against Memphis.

North Texas News and Notes

Running back James Hamilton's 34-yard pass to Drew Miller was the first pass completed by a North Texas running back since 2005. Patrick Cobbs threw the last completed pass by a Mean Green running back against Louisiana Tech for a 33-yard touchdown to Johnny Quinn.

Lance Dunbar had his 18th 100-yard rushing game of his career against Tulsa. That third among active running backs in the NCAA. Dunbar trails only Montel Harris of Boston College and LaMichael James of Oregon.

The first and third quarters have been difficult for North Texas through the first five-games. North Texas has been outscored a combined 117-10 in those two quarters.

For the second straight week North Texas held its opponent to less than 100-yards rushing as Tulsa gained only 98 yards on the ground. It's only the second time since 2004 that the Mean Green has held its opponent to less than 100 yards rushing on the ground. North Texas has held its opponents to less than 100-yards rushing in three straight weeks since the 2003 season.

Through two games at Apogee Stadium the combined attendance is just under 50,000 at 49,256. Its the biggest two-game attendance figure in school history, beating the old record of 49,158 set in 2003. The best three-game attendance stretch in school history is 66,397 set during the first three-games of the 2003 season. North Texas needs to have 17,142 against Florida Atlantic to break that record

Troy News and Notes

The Trojans had 15 different players record a reception in the contest against UAB, the most since September 13, 2008 when the Trojans had that many against Alcorn State University.

Junior running back D.J. Taylor entered Troy's game against UAB with two career rushing touchdowns, but added three more against the Blazers, including the game-winner with just over four minutes left in a 24-23 victory. Taylor's three TD runs all came from near the goal line covering 3, 1 and 2 yards. The junior finished the night with 12 carries for 53 yards to help Troy even its season record at 2-2 and avenge a one-point loss to the Blazers in 2010.

After not practicing all week with a strained elbow ligament, and not starting for the first time this year, Jimmie Anderson had the biggest play of the game for the Trojans in a 24-23 victory over UAB. After Troy had closed to within six points on a 48-yard Michael Taylor field goal, the Blazers got the ball back with 5:18 to play, looking to run out the clock. However, on the second UAB play of the possession, Anderson jumped a screen pass to record his first interception of the season, giving Troy the ball back at the UAB12. Anderson finished the game with four tackles to go with his game-changing pick.

Troy improved to 91-12-1 all-time at home under coach Larry Blakeney, who has still never lost to the same school twice on the Trojans' home field. The Trojans also improved to 13-1 in the FBS era when playing back-to-back home games. It was Troy's 22nd consecutive October home victory, dating back to 1997.

Troy improved to 31-6 all-time under Coach Blakeney against in-state opponents with the win over UAB.

Michael Taylor helped the Trojans to an all-Taylor scoring night in a 24-23 victory over UAB. He had three PAT kicks following touchdown runs by D.J. Taylor (no relation) and nailed a 48-yard field goal with just 5:18 left in the game to cut the UAB lead to 23-17, opening the door for Troy's victory. In addition to his work on PAT/FG, Taylor also kicked off five times in the game, producing a career-high four touchbacks.

WKU News and Notes

Hilltopper senior running back Bobby Rainey accounted for 154 all-purpose yards against Arkansas State, rushing for 86 yards and picking up 68 receiving yards. He also was part of two of WKU's three touchdowns, catching a 42-yard pass and also throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass. It was Rainey's second career touchdown throw, as he also had a five-yard TD pass last season at South Florida.

WKU has now either led or been tied entering the fourth quarter in seven of its last nine league games. Five of its seven league losses over the past two seasons have now come by a combined 18 points.

Sophomore linebacker Andrew Jackson tied a season-best with a game-high 13 tackles against Arkansas State. He also had 13 stops in the previous game against Indiana State. Jackson is the first Hilltopper to open a season with four straight games of 10 or more tackles since Tom Lucky did so at the beginning of the 1984 campaign.

Sophomore cornerback Tyree Robinson posted the first double-digit tackles game of his young career against the Red Wolves, finishing with 11 stops. Eight of those tackles were solos. He is the first Hilltopper defensive back to record double-digit tackles in the last 10 games.

WKU will play its first true road game Thursday night when it visits Middle Tennessee for a contest on ESPNU. The Hilltoppers played three straight games at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, and the season opener against Kentucky at L.P. Field in Nashville was designated as a home game. Oct. 6 marks the latest WKU has played is first game on the opponent's home field since 1951, when it also played its first road game on that date (and third game overall) at Marshall.

Coming in 2012 - South Alabama News and Notes

USA received three votes in the Sports Network/ poll released Sept. 26, the first time the Jaguars have received points in any national rankings. … Saturday's matchup at Texas-San Antonio will conclude a stretch of three consecutive road games for the Jaguars, who had played just three contests outside of Mobile entering the 2011 campaign. … It's the second season in a row that the Jaguars will play a game in Texas, as they defeated Lamar 26-0 on Oct. 16 last fall. … Redshirt freshman QB C.J. Bennett posted career-high totals with 281 passing yards and 321 yards of total offense against the Golden Flashes despite accounting for just 26 yards in the opening half. In leading the Jags' rally after the break, Bennett completed five passes for 20-plus yards including USA's three longest plays from scrimmage in 2011. He also picked up 40 yards on five carries to become the first quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Ray Cotton accomplished the feat with seven rushes for 78 yards in a 64-0 victory over Edward Waters (Fla.) on Sept. 25 last fall. … Romelle Jones was credited with the team's other tackle for loss in the contest at KSU, as it was the third contest in a row that he has been made a stop in the backfield. The sophomore, who is tied for the team lead in the category with 3½ on the season, posted a career-high-tying four total tackles against the Golden Flashes. … Enrique Williams became the first player in school history to record 100 total tackles after finishing the KSU contest with seven stops. It marked the sixth consecutive game that the sophomore has been credited with at least five tackles dating back to a Nov. 6 win over Henderson (Ark.) State. … Through four games, redshirt freshman Jeremé Jones ranks third on the squad with 238 all-purpose yards, as he is the only individual who has at least one rushing attempt, catch, punt and kickoff return. … Corey Besteda, who made his first career start against the Golden Flashes, finished the contest with two receptions for a career-best 71 yards; it's the second straight week that the sophomore had multiple catches, as he has already surpassed his total from the 2010 campaign. In fact, three of Besteda's four catches this fall have gone for 25 yards or more as he ranks third on the squad in the category for the year with 104.