2013 Sun Belt Football Season Set to Begin
A tie atop the preseason coaches poll between two instate rivals? The
two-time defending conference champions? A team that has been there
before and others looking to get their for the first time? The league
So, who will win the Sun Belt Conference football championship?
The 2013 football season starts this week and while there aren't any conference games on the schedule, there is plenty
of non-conference football to whet the appetite of college football fans around the Sun Belt.
Alabama played its inaugural season in the Sun Belt a year ago and now
the Jaguars are in their first year as
full-fledged FBS member that can compete for the chance to go to a bowl
game. The Jags open the season at home against Southern Utah Thursday
night on ESPN3.
League newcomers Georgia State will also host an ESPN3 affair with Samford coming to the Georgia Dome.
Saturday offers a full schedule of football as six games will be contested – five of which will be available for viewing
on either an ESPN or Fox affiliated exposure.
season the Sun Belt pulled off a number of early season upsets and the
first week of football provides several
opportunities for that to happen again. WKU will once again play
Kentucky – a team which it beat last year in Lexington.
Louisiana-Lafayette will play an Arkansas team that fell to
Louisiana-Monroe last season. And speaking of the Warhawks, they will
their upset-minded game plan to Oklahoma.
around the league, two-time defending champion Arkansas State Red
Wolves open the season at home against
Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Five-time SBC champion Troy will host in-state
rival UAB, while Texas State heads to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss.
The Bobcats are making their debut in the Sun Belt season.
Southern Utah at South Alabama - 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Samford at Georgia State - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas - 3 p.m. (Fox Sports Network)
Louisiana-Monroe at Oklahoma - 6 p.m. (Fox Sports Network PPV)
UAB at Troy - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
^ Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (ESPNews) - 6 p.m.
Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Arkansas State - 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Texas State at Southern Miss - 6 p.m.
All times Central (CT) and subject to change
^ Game to be played at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Around the Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Success in 2012
There is no question that the Sun Belt Conference is a league on the
rise in football. After all, the conference finished with its most
non-conference wins in league history in 2012 and also sent a record
four teams to bowl games. The conference also finished
the 2012 season with its best ever average computer ranking – finishing
ahead of Conference USA and the Mountain West. The league also had two
wins over top-25 ranked opponents and Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas
State won their respective bowl games. All
four Sun Belt Conference institutions that went to bowl games in 2012
return for the 2013 season.
Sun Belt Conference Bowl Games
The Sun Belt Conference maintains tie-ins with the GoDaddy Bowl and the
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and come 2014, the Sun Belt will also send
a team to the newly formed Camellia Bowl. A team from the Sun Belt
Conference has played in the R+L Carriers New
Orleans Bowl since its inception in 2001. The SBC has won four
consecutive R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl games and six out of the last
seven. The GoDaddy bowl, meanwhile, has a four-year agreement in place
with the Sun Belt Conference and Mid-American Conference
to provide teams for the game. The Camellia Bowl will match-up the Sun
Belt Conference against the Mid-American Conference (MAC) beginning in
December 2014. The game will be played yearly at the Cramton Bowl in
Montgomery, Ala., before the Christmas holiday
and be televised nationally on ESPN or ESPN2.
Sun Belt Sends Four to Bowl Games
For the first time in the Sun Belt Conference's 12 years of football the
league sent four teams to postseason bowl games. Louisiana-Lafayette
played in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl , WKU headed to the Little
Caesars Pizza Bowl, Louisiana-Monroe traveled
west to the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl and league champion Arkansas
State returned to the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
ASU Claims Second Consecutive Outight Sun Belt Title With 45-0 Win over Middle Tennessee
The Arkansas State football team claimed its second straight Sun Belt
Conference championship with a 45-0 victory over Middle Tennessee in
front of a Liberty Bank Stadium record crowd of 31,243. The Red Wolves
capped off a 9-3 regular season with a victory
over a Middle Tennessee team that was receiving votes in the USA Today
Coaches Top 25 Poll. A-State completed its Sun Belt title run with seven
straight victories to finish 7-1 in the league. Arkansas State, which
has never finished ranked among the top 25
teams in the nation as an FBS member, is receiving votes in both major
polls and is listed No. 34 and No. 37 in latest CBSSports.com 124 and
BCS rankings, respectively.
Harsin Named Arkansas State Head Coach
Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir announced at a press
conference that Bryan Harsin, a 13-year coaching veteran at the
NCAA FBS level who has coached in 10 bowl games as either an assistant
or offensive coordinator, has been named the Red Wolves'
29th all-time head football coach. Harsin, a finalist for the 2009
Broyles Award recognizing the top assistant coach in the country, has
been associated with two nationally-prominent programs during his rise
to A-State's head coach. Working closely with Chris
Petersen at Boise State and Mack Brown at Texas, two of the most
well-respected coaches in the country, Harsin spent the last seven
seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Broncos and Longhorns.
Harsin served the last two seasons as Texas' co-offensive
coordinator and quarterbacks coach after spending the previous 10 on the
Boise State staff, including the last five as offensive coordinator and
quarterbacks coach as well. During his tenure at both schools, he
guided offenses that consistently ranked among
the nation's best in almost every statistical category.
Bobby Petrino Named 18th Head Coach in WKU Football History
Western Kentucky University has named Bobby Petrino its 18th head
football coach in school history, WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart
announced. Petrino brings a wealth of coaching experience and success
to WKU, owning a 75-26 career record as a collegiate
head coach, with seven bowl game appearances, including appearances in
the 2011 BCS Sugar Bowl with the University of Arkansas and the 2007 BCS
Orange Bowl with the University of Louisville. In his eight seasons as a
collegiate head coach with Louisville and
Arkansas, Petrino led his teams to a bowl game in seven of the eight
years, including four 10-win seasons, leading both the Cardinals and the
Razorbacks to their first BCS bowl games in school history. Petrino
guided Arkansas and Louisville to top-10 finishes
nationally three different times, including finishing the 2006 and the
2011 seasons ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll.
WKU, ULM Top SEC Foes
ULM defeated then #8 ranked Arkansas on September 8 and WKU followed up
with a win over Kentucky on September 15. The two wins against SEC
programs were the first for both institutions, it also marked the first
time that Sun Belt Conference has had wins against
the SEC in back-to-back weeks. ULM's win over Arkansas also marked the
first time that a Sun Belt Conference team has defeated a top-ten ranked
Bowl Game Winning Percentage
Over the last five years the Sun Belt Conference ranks sixth out of the
11 FBS conferences in postseason bowl game winning percentage. In fact,
the Sun Belt Conference ranks ahead of noted "BCS AQ" leagues – the ACC,
Pac-12 and the Big Ten
Cajuns Top Pirates in R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Jemarlous Moten made two key defensive plays in the fourth quarter and
Brett Baer landed a pair of field goals in the waning minutes to help
the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns repeat as R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
champions with a 43-34 victory over East Carolina
before the bowl's record crowd of 48,828 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Terrance Broadway, who completed 21-of-32 passes for 316 yards and a
touchdown and had 15 rushes for 108 yards, was named New Orleans Bowl
Red Wolves Best #25 Kent State for GoDaddy.com Bowl Championship
Arkansas State's offense was held in check after piling up big numbers
this season. It was the defense that led the Red Wolves to a
breakthrough victory. Ryan Aplin threw for 213 yards and a touchdown,
J.D. McKissic caught 11 passes for 113 yards and Arkansas
State edged No. 25 Kent State 17-13 to win the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Arkansas State's usually prolific offense struggled against Kent State,
but the consistent Aplin-to-McKissic connection and a stingy defense was
enough to help the Red Wolves (10-3) to their first
bowl win since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1992.
Andrews Joins Sanders in Elite
WKU junior running back Antonio Andrews ﬁnished the Little Caesars Pizza
Bowl with 119 rushing yards — his 10th 100-yard game of the season.
That tied a WKU single season record set by Bobby Rainey in 2011.
Andrews also set a new WKU single-season rushing record
with 1,728 yards. That broke the previous mark of 1,695 set by Rainey in
2011. Andrews finished with 184 all-purpose yards, giving him 3,161 for
the season. He joins Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders as the only two
players in FBS history to eclipse 3,000 all-purpose
yards in a season. Sanders set an NCAA record with 3,250 during the 1988
Sun Belt Membership
The Sun Belt Conference will contest the 2013 football season with eight
members – Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette,
Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky
University. UALR and UT Arlington compete as non-football
members. Come the 2014 season, the Sun Belt will have four new members
in the league as Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were added as
all-sports members and Idaho and New Mexico State have been added as
football playing members. Both Appalachian State
and Georgia Southern bring with them highly successfully football
programs and each team will begin the process of transitioning to the
Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) immediately. The 2014 Sun Belt football
season will mark the debut of both in the league
schedule and standings. Additionally, both the Mountaineers and Eagles
will be able to compete for the league championship in football for the
2014 season. Both teams will first be eligible to compete in a spot for a
postseason bowl game come the 2015 season.
Idaho and New Mexico State are familiar partners of the Sun Belt
Conference, having been football members from the league's inaugural
year of football in 2001 through the 2004 season. Both members played an
integral part of forming the Sun Belt Conference for
football and now add strength to the league. Both teams will be
immediately eligible to compete for the Sun Belt football championship
and also for a spot in postseason bowl games.
Team News and Notes
Arkansas State Red Wolves
Arkansas State, the back-to-back Sun Belt Conference champions, reported
for fall camp Aug. 1 and is now set to open its 2013 campaign against
in-state rival UAPB this Saturday at Liberty Bank Stadium in an
ESPN3-televised game . . . Bryan Harsin has taken
over the reins to the A-State football program after being named the Red
Wolves' 29th head coach on Dec. 12, 2012. He is a 13-year coaching
veteran at the NCAA FBS level who has coached in 10 bowl games as either
an assistant or offensive coordinator . . .
Harsin was ranked as the sixth best hire in the nation among 26 new
coaches at the time, according to CBSSports.com . . . Arkansas State
placed a league-high seven players on the 2013 Preseason All-Sun Belt
Conference Team . . . The Red Wolves were picked third
in the preseason coaches poll announced as part of the league's annual
Media Day . . . Arkansas State will kick off its 99th season of football
on holding a 426-457-37 record since the inaugural 1911 season and has
played in nine bowl games. A-State did not
field a football team from 1942-44 due to World War II. ASU also didn't
have a team in 1918 as World War I was ending . . . Arkansas State ended
the 2012 season receiving votes in the fianl major polls, including 28
in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and 13
in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll. Both totals placed the Red Wolves
32nd in the nation. A-State also received one point in the initial 2013
USA Today Coaches Poll . . . Arkansas State claimed its second
consecutive outright Sun Belt Conference championship
in 2012. ASU has won nine conference championships all-time . . .
Arkansas State secured back-to-back winning seasons in 2011 and 2012 for
the first time since 1986-87. ASU won 10 games in both 2011 and 2012,
and its 19 combined regular-season victories were
its most ever over a two-year span -- topping its 18 in 1974 and 1975 . .
. With a 5-1 home mark last season, Arkansas State secured its eighth
consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank Stadium dating back to 2005.
ASU is now 36-8 at Liberty Bank Stadium since
the 2005 season and has won 11 of its last 12 home games. The Red Wolves
actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 128-71-1
since it opened in 1974.
Georgia State Panthers
Head coach Trent Miles makes his debut on the Georgia State sidelines as
the Panthers open the 2013 season by hosting Samford at the Georgia
Dome. Miles takes the reins of the GSU program after a remarkable
rebuilding job in five seasons as the head man at
his alma mater, Indiana State.
Top returnees for the 2013 Panthers include wide receivers Albert Wilson
and Danny Williams and left tackle Ulrick John on offense and defensive
linemen Theo Agnew and Terrance Woodard and linebacker Joseph Peterson
on defense. Wilson is the Panthers' most
versatile weapon as a receiver and return specialist with nearly 4,000
all-purpose yards in his career. The GSU special teams feature standout
punter Matt Hubbard, an allconference selection in 2012 who has averaged
nearly 43 yards per kick in his first two
Miles is not expected to name a starting quarterback before game time as
sophomore returnees Ronnie Bell and Ben McLane and junior college
transfer Clay Chastain competed for the job throughout the preseason.
McLane started nine games a year ago and passed
for 1,592 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Bell contributed 522 yards
passing and three touchdowns in two starts, but they combined to throw
Georgia State's game against Samford is its first contest as an FBS
program as the Panthers make the jump this season to the Sun Belt
Conference. The move to FBS is a two-year transition which began in
2012, when the Panthers played an FCS and CAA schedule.
Georgia State, which began playing football in 2010, will be fully
eligible for the Sun Belt title and postseason bowl games in 2014.
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
After almost a month of preseason drills, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
football team will open the 2013 season by travelling to Fayetteville,
Ark. to take on Arkansas on Saturday, Aug. 31 beginning at 3:00 p.m. CDT
in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on
the Arkansas campus. . . the contest marks the beginning of the 112th
season of intercollegiate football at Louisiana-Lafayette with the
Cajuns going for their 500th win in program history (499-521-34 all-time
record). . . this will be the fifth game against
Arkansas with the Razorbacks claiming the first four contests, each of
which was played in Fayetteville. . . the Cajuns return 14 starters from
the 2012 team that tied the school record for the second straight year
with nine wins and won the New Orleans Bowl
title. . . seven starters are back from the offense that set school
records for points (461), first downs (268) and total offense (5,914). .
. the Cajuns carry a modest four-game win streak into the contest.
The Cajuns will open their 112th season in intercollegiate football
against Arkansas on Saturday. The Cajuns own a 53-54-4 record in season
openers. The Cajuns will be attempting to reverse a bad stretch as they
have gone just 4-18 in openers since 1991. The
Cajuns have faced Arkansas just once in an opener, dropping a 38-17
decision in 1998.
Three Cajuns were named to the 2013 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference
team, which was determined by a vote of head coaches and select media
throughout the conference. Senior center Andre Huval was the only member
of the offense to receive the honor while linebacker
Justin Anderson and defensive lineman Christian Ringo represented the
Building on consecutive 9-4 records and New Orleans Bowl titles, the
Ragin' Cajuns have been selected as the co-favorites to win the SBC this
season in a preseason poll of the league's head coaches. The Cajuns
received four first place votes and 57 points total
to share the favorite role with Louisiana-Monroe, who received two first
When ULM lines up against Oklahoma Saturday night, it will mark the
sixth straight season that the Warhawks have opened the season against a
ranked foe... The streak began in 2008 when ULM faced No. 10 Auburn...
Since then, ULM has opened seasons with: No.
2 Texas (2009), No. 14 Arkansas (2010), No. 5 Florida State (2011), and
No. 8 Arkansas (2012).
Saturday's game marks just the ninth time since joining the NCAA ranks
in 1975 that ULM has played a game in the month of August... The
Warhawks are 4-4 in the month of August.
After lining up against the Sooners, the Warhawks will have faced eight
of the current 10 members of the Big 12 Conference... The only schools
ULM has not faced are Texas Tech and West Virginia.
The contest against the Sooners is the first trip to the state of
Oklahoma for the Warhawks since the 1999 season when they defeated
Tulsa, 37-34, in the season finale (Nov. 13)... All-time it is just the
fourth trip to the state for ULM (at Tulsa, 1977; at
Oklahoma State, 1997).
A total of seven Warhawks earned preseason recognition from either the
Sun Belt Conference or a preseason watch list (Josh Allen, OL; Kolton
Browning, QB; Kentarius Caldwell, NT; Je'Ron Hamm, WR; Justin Manton, K /
P; Tavarese Maye, WR; Isaiah Newsome, S).
Four different Warhawks enter their final season in a ULM uniform with
30 or more career starts (Kolton Browning, 36; Isaiah Newsome, 31; Josh
Allen, 30; Tavarese Maye, 30).
Kolton Browning enters his senior season at the top of the charts with
60 career touchdown passes... He is tied with Steven Jyles (2002-05)
with 76 total career touchdowns... Browning meanwhile ranks in the top
10 in seven other categories including the number
two spot in passing yards, passing attempts, pass completions, total
yards of offense and plays.
South Alabama Jaguars
The Jaguars open their fifth season of competition — and first eligible
for a Sun Belt Conference championship — Thursday against Southern Utah
at Ladd-Peebles Stadium … It marks the fifth consecutive year that the
Jaguars will begin the campaign at home; USA
is 3-1 in openers after falling in the final seconds to Texas-San
Antonio, 33-31, last fall … The Jags will start on a Thursday night for
the second time in three seasons — they defeated West Alabama, 20-0, to
begin the 2011 campaign — although last year's
opener was moved from Thursday to Saturday due to Tropical Storm Isaac …
USA is 1-1 all-time against current members of the Big Sky Conference —
the Jaguars defeated UC Davis on the road, 24-17, on Oct. 23, 2010, for
their first-ever victory over an NCAA Division
I school but ended the '11 season with a loss to Cal Poly … DE Alex Page
enters 2013 coming off a year in which he set career highs with 64
tackles, 11½ stops behind the line of scrimmage and six sacks, earning
second-team all-Sun Belt honors for the performance.
With Melvin Meggs sidelined to begin the season, Page's 27 career starts
are the most of any Jaguar expected to be active in the opener against
SUU … Page and TE Wes Saxton were the only two Jags to be named
preseason first-team all-league by three preseason
publications — Phil Steele, Lindy's and Athlon — with the two also named
first-team all-conference at the league annual media day in July.
Saxton ended last fall with catches in five straight games, including
collecting at least three receptions in four of
those outings … Senior Ross Metheny won the battle in preseason camp to
enter the year as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, holding off both
Brandon Bridge and Trey Fetner. After transferring from Virginia just
before fall practice started a year ago, Metheny
didn't become the starter until USA opened Sun Belt play against Troy
the fifth week of the season; he would go on to set school season
records with 189 completions, 2,148 yards and 12 touchdowns … Senior ILB
Enrique Williams was one of two Jags to record at
least 100 tackles in 2012, posting a career-best 105 to rank among the
top 10 in the conference in the category. With 239 stops in his first
four years, Williams needs just seven more to overtake Jake Johnson to
become the program's all-time leading tackler
… The Jags enter this fall with the top two running backs on the depth
chart newcomers to the program. Jay Jones — who enrolled in school in
January and took part in spring drills — was a National Junior College
Athletic Association Freshman All-American in
2010 after gaining 920 yards at Northwest Mississippi C.C., while Cris
Dinham ranked fifth in the NJCAA with 126.5 yards per contest a year ago
at Independence (Kan.) C.C.
Texas State Bobcats
Texas State will open its season against a Conference USA opponent for
the third time in the last four years when the Bobcats travel to
Southern Miss. The Bobcats also opened the 2010 and 2012 seasons at
Houston. Last season, Texas State upset Houston 30-13
in its first game as a member of the FBS member.
Texas State will be looking to win its second straight season-opening
game against a Conference USA opponent when the Bobcats travel to
Southern Miss on Saturday. The Bobcats are 3-1 in season-openers under
head coach Dennis Franchione following last year's
30-13 victory at Houston.
Texas State is in its 107th season and enters the Southern Miss game
with an all-time record of 495-416-26. The Bobcats began playing
football in 1904 when they posted a 5-1 record. Texas State did not play
football in 1942, 1945 and 1946.
Texas State will be playing in its third conference with one season as
an independent in the last four years in 2013. The Bobcats joined the
Sun Belt Conference in 2013 after playing in the WAC in 2012, playing as
an FCS Independent in 2011 and in the Southland
Conference in 2010.
Texas State is playing in its sixth athletics conference overall in
2013. The Bobcats have won 13 football conference championships during
their history and were members of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic
Association in the 1920's, the Lone Star Conference
from 1931-83, the Gulf Star Conference in 1984-86 and the Southland
Conference in 1987-2010.
Texas State head football coach Dennis Franchione enters the 2013 season
needing just three victories to reach the 200-win plateau in his
career. Franchione has a 197-115-2 career record entering Saturday's
game at Southern Miss. He ranks fifth among active
NCAA Division I FBS coaches with 197 career victories.
Five games last season Troy surpassed the 500-yard mark of total
offense. Troy torched Tennessee to the tune of 721 yards and racked up
597 yards against Navy … Eighteen 300-yard passing games by Corey
Robinson in his career; every other quarterback in the
Sun Belt has a combined 10 … Eight rushing touchdowns by Deon Anthony
despite just 82 carries; TD every 10.3 carries was fifth best ratio
among quarterbacks in the NCAA last season (min. eight TDs) … Twelve
straight field goals made by Will Scott to close out
the 2012 season which tied the Troy record … Fourteen former Trojans on
NFL rosters which is tied for the most in the Sun Belt, including four
who played in a Super Bowl … Seventeen career touchdown receptions by
Eric Thomas, which leads all active players
in the Sun Belt and is seven shy of tying T.Y. Hilton for the Sun Belt
record … 35.8 percent opponents percentage converting third downs last
season. Troy led all Sun Belt teams in third-down defense … 169 career
victories by Troy head coach Larry Blakeney,
which is the fourth most all-time in the state of Alabama … 10,258
career passing yards by Corey Robinson, which leads all active players
in the NCAA and is just 476 yards shy of the Sun Belt career mark held
by Ryan Aplin … Troy head coach Larry Blakeney has
169 career victories in his 22 seasons at Troy; the other seven head
coaches in the Sun Belt have COMBINED for 83 victories at their current
school … The Trojans are 94-18-1 at home under head coach Larry Blakeney
… Troy has played in more bowl games than any
other Sun Belt Conference school. Troy's five bowl trips are two more
than the next closest school … In two games against SEC teams last
season, Troy averaged 646.5 yards of total offense (721 at Tennessee and
572 vs. Mississippi State) … Corey Robinson is
just the third four-year starter at quarterback in Troy history; Mike
Turk (1984-87) & Brock Nutter (1998-01) … Troy is 69-5 under Larry
Blakeney when scoring at least 35 points … Troy is 21-1 in home openers
under Larry Blakeney and have not lost a non-conference
home opener. The Trojans have won 25 of their last 26 home openers and
are 66-25-2 all-time in such games … Troy has the highest all-time
winning percentage in Sun Belt games in league history; 45-22, .671. New
Mexico State (who rejoins the league in 2014)
is second with a .577 winning percentage … Troy holds the top two spots
in the Sun Belt record book for total offense per game. The Trojans
averaged 498.8 yards per game in 2012 and 485.7 yards per game in 2009 …
Quarterback Corey Robinson already holds Troy
career records for passing attempts, completions, passing yards and
total offense; he holds the single-season record for passing attempts
and single-game records for passing yards and completions … Larry
Blakeney is one of just two active coaches in the NCAA
to coach on the field that is currently named for him; Kansas State's
Bill Snyder is the other
WKU enters its 94th season of football and celebrates its 100-year
anniversary of the birth of the program at the University, under
first-year head coach Bobby Petrino, who became the school's 18th head
coach on Dec. 10, 2012.
The Hilltoppers are 55-33-5 all-time in season openers, and winning the
first game has proven to be a good omen for the rest of the season. In
46 of the 55 years WKU has opened with a win, the team has gone on to
finish .500 or better.
In season openers, Petrino is 8-0, including a 4-0 mark against Kentucky
while at Louisville. Petrino's Cardinals also never trailed against the
Wildcats. In all, Petrino is 4-1 all-time against UK.
With the UK game and another SEC opponent the following week in
Tennessee, the Hilltoppers will face two teams from the SEC for the
third time in program histor y and fourth time overall. It also marks
the ninth consecutive season the Hilltoppers have played
a team from the SEC, dating back to the 2005 season when WKU faced
Auburn. Since 2005, WKU has faced Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee,
LSU and Alabama.
All totaled, Petrino and his staff have accumulated over 186 years of
collegiate coaching experience to go along with 13 BCS bowl game
appearances and 63 career bowl games appearances.
Saturday marks the end of a four-game series agreement between WKU and
UK, which began in 2010. After winning the first two games of the
series, in Lexington (2010) and in Nashville (2011), the Wildcats fell
to the Hilltoppers 32-31 in overtime last year in
Last year, Antonio Andrews threw a pass back to quarterback Kawaun Jakes
in the first overtime period on a two-point conversion play to give the
Tops a 32-31 (OT) victor y, their first victory over an SEC opponent
and over a BCS automatic qualifier-conference
Appalachian State Mountaineers (Coming in 2014)
A new era begins for Appalachian State football on Saturday when the
12th-ranked Mountaineers over the 2013 season at No. 20 Montana.
Most notably, Saturday's season-opener marks the debut for Appalachian
State head coach Scott Satterfield. Satterfield was named Appalachian's
20th head coach Dec. 14, 2012. Satterfield replaces legendary head coach
Jerry Moore, whose 24-year run at the helm
of the Mountaineers came to an end following the 2012 campaign.
Saturday's game also marks the beginning of the end of an era for
Appalachian State football, as the Mountaineers open their final season
in NCAA Division I FCS. On March 27, 2013, Appalachian officially
accepted an invitation to join the NCAA Division I FBS
Sun Belt Conference on July 1, 2014.
Saturday's game also wraps up perhaps the most anticipated
regular-season series in FCS history, when Appalachian and Montana play
the final game of a home-and-home series. The series began last Sept. 8
in Boone, N.C., when Appalachian scored its first-ever
win over Montana with a 35-27 triumph in front of 30,856 at jam-packed
Kidd Brewer Stadium. Despite last year's victory over the Griz, the
Mountaineers still trail in the all-time series versus Montana, 2-1.
Montana has won both previous meetings played in
Both of the previous App State-Montana matchups played at
Washington-Grizzly Stadium came in the semifinals of the NCAA Division
I-AA/FCS playoffs. The Griz topped the Apps in overtime, 19-16, in the
2000 national semifinals and eeked out a heart-stopping 24-17
victory in the 2009 semis. Appalachian State and Montana have combined
to win five NCAA Division I-AA/FCS national championships, make 10
I-AA/FCS championship-game appearances and earn 40 I-AA/FCS postseason
Appalachian State is opening the season versus an FCS opponent for only
the fifth time in the last 20 seasons. Appalachian has not lost an
opener to an FCS opponent since a 22-10 loss at North Carolina A&T
Georgia Southern Eagles (Coming in 2014)
Georgia Southern opens its 2013 season with local opponent Savannah
State in the 400th game in program history. The Eagles and Tigers meet
for the 10th time with the first meeting in 1983, the only game not
played at Paulson Stadium.
The Eagles have a 9-0 advantage in the series with the last meeting in
2010. That game, Coach Jeff Monken's head coaching debut, resulted in a
48-3 victory for Georgia Southern. Tiger Coach Earnest Wilson III was
hired in June and will make his collegiate head
coaching debut against the ninth-ranked Eagles.
The Eagles return seven starters on offense and seven on defense and are
led offensively by a pair of hard-running backs in senior quarterback
Jerick McKinnon and junior running back Dominique Swope. McKinnon
recorded the third-best single-season rushing total
in program history with 1,817 yards in 2012 while Swope posted the first
back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Eagles since 2002-03.
On defense, senior linebacker Kyle Oehlbeck is the top returning tackler
while senior defensive end Javon Mention tying for the team lead in
sacks and finishing second with tackles for loss in 2012.
Georgia Southern has won 16 of its last 17 games at Paulson Stadium with
Monken 3-0 in home and season openers in his career. The Eagles are
21-10 all-time in season openers and 15-2 in home openers. For the 2013
opener, Georgia Southern Athletics will recognize
its conference champions with a "Night of Champions," pairing teams that
won titles during the 2012-13 season with previous title teams.
Idaho Vandals (Coming in 2014)
Paul Petrino's head coaching career begin in earnest Saturday when he
leads the Vandals against North Texas. While it is his first head
coaching job, it is not Petrino's first stint at Idaho. His coaching
career began at Carroll College (his alma mater, 1989).
From Carroll, he went to Idaho where he coached running back, receivers
and special teams from 1992-94. From Idaho it was on to Utah State
(1995-97), Louisville (1998-99), Southern Mississippi (2000-02),
Louisville (2003-06), Atlanta Falcons (2007), Arkansas
(208-09), Illinois (2010-11) and Arkansas (2012).
Dan McCarney is in his third season at North Texas and his 15th as a
head coach. He is 9-15 with the Mean Green and 65-100 overall. An Iowa
graduate, he previously coached at Iowa (1977-89), Wisconsin (1990-94),
Iowa State (1995-2006), South Florida (2007)
and Florida (2008-10).
Idaho is playing the 2013 season as an FBS independent before rejoining
the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. The Vandals have been independent
previously – 1893-1907 and 1959-62.There are five other independent FBS
programs – Army, BYU, Navy, New Mexico State and
The Vandals and Mean Green first played in 1996 when both were members
of the Big West Conference. Their annual rivalry continued through 2004,
which includes five season when both were in the Sun Belt Conference.
UNT leads the series 5-4, which includes the
most recent game – 51-29 at Denton. Idaho has won twice at UNT – 1998
(41-23) and 16-14 (2000).
New Mexico State Aggies (Coming in 2014)
The New Mexico State Aggies (0-0) will open their 2013 season against
No. 15 Texas Longhorns, Saturday, August 31 at Darrell K Royal-Texas
Memorial Stadium, in Austin, Texas. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. (MT). This
will be the fifth meeting between the two schools,
all of which have been played in Austin and won by the Longhorns. The
last time these two teams met on the gridiron, was on August 31, 2003,
as Texas won 66-7.
The game will be televised on the Longhorn Network and ESPN3.com.
Texas posted a 9-4 record in 2012 which ended with a thrilling 31-27
victory over No. 15/14 Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The
Longhorns ended the year ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press poll and
18th in the USA Today Coaches poll. It marked the
14th winning season in Mack Brown's 15 as head coach of Texas. Brown has
led his teams to winning records in 22 of the last 23 seasons.
Texas welcomes back starters at 19 positions, including 10 on offense
and nine on defense. There are 16 offensive players who started a game
in 2012 back for the 2013 campaign while the defense includes 18 players
with at least one start last season.
Mack Brown, who is in his 16th season at Texas, is just the fourth coach
in the 120 years of Texas football to lead the team for at least a
decade and just the second coach to win 100 games while at the school.
Texas was selected fourth by media representative
who cover the Big 12 Conference in the conference's preseason poll,
behind Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and TCU.
The Aggies season opener with the Longhorns will mark the fifth meeting
between the two schools and the fourth time that the two schools have
met in a season opener. Texas holds a 4-0 record against NM State, as
the first meeting between the two schools was
on Sept. 7, 1994, as Texas won 41-7. All four previous games have been
played in Austin, Texas, as the Longhorns have averaged 53.5 points per
game in those contests. The last meeting in the series was also on
August 31 in 2003. Texas won that game 66-7. NM
State's best showing against Texas came in 1998, as the Aggies put up 33
points on the Longhorns, falling to a final score of 66-33.