It’s time again for the DFW/Sun Belt stock report, where we take a look at the teams on the rise and those falling fast in the area and the league. It’s been an interesting season so far, with teams no one thought would do well (Louisiana-Monroe) playing great and teams that everyone thought would roll (Florida International) struggling a bit:
TCU – The Frogs won their first Big 12 game, beating Kansas on the road 20-6. It wasn’t exactly an inspiring performance, but TCU just keeps on winning.
UNT – No one thought the Mean Green would win at Kansas State, but UNT played well in a 35-21 loss. Derek Thompson threw the ball really well and the Mean Green’s offensive line held its own against a Big 12 opponent. There was a lot to build from for UNT.
SMU – The Mustangs had a chance to pull off an upset at home against Texas A&M, but struggled in a 48-3 loss to the Aggies. It’s been a tough nonconference season for the Mustangs, much to the delight of UNT fans.
Western Kentucky –The Hilltoppers posted a monumental win over Kentucky when Kawaun Jakes threw a lateral to Antonio Andrews, who threw back to Jakes for the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime. WKU is 2-1 with a winnable home game against Southern Miss coming up this week. The Hilltoppers are putting themselves in a good spot to make a run at the bowl game after being passed over, even after winning seven games, last year.
Middle Tennessee – Everyone was ready to bury the Blue Raiders (myself included) after they lost their season-opener to McNeese State. Don’t look now, but MTSU has won two straight after beating Memphis 48-30 for a big win over an in-state rival. The Sun Belt season will tell the story, but six wins doesn’t seem out of the question now.
Louisiana-Monroe – That win over Arkansas looks less like a fluke now after ULM nearly pulled it off again before falling to Auburn in overtime 31-28. A win in that game would have made the Warhawks national media darlings. ULM has a lot of confidence right now and gets Baylor at home this week.
Troy – The Trojans gave Mississippi State a scare before falling 30-24 at home. The game was a huge chance for Troy to post a signature win at home. Still, Troy played well against an SEC team. I have been saying all along that the Troy game is essentially UNT’s season. The same might be true for Troy. If the Trojans can beat UNT in Denton to even their record at 2-2 with a game against South Alabama coming up, six wins starts to look realistic.
Money game beat downs are no fun
We have a special category this week for money games, body bag games or whatever you want to call them. If you follow the Sun Belt, you know them and love them because they allow your school to have a program in the first place. Here are the teams who enjoyed their turn this week:
Arkansas State – ASU went to Nebraska and was waxed 42-13. The Red Wolves are still on schedule. They won the game they were supposed to against Memphis and took their beatings on the road against Oregon and the Huskers. No harm, no foul.
Louisiana-Lafayette – Denton’s own J.W. Walsh came off the bench to torch the Ragin’ Cajuns as Oklahoma State beat ULL 65-24. JW threw for 347 yards and is now the most intriguing transfer possibility on the planet if Wes Lunt comes back and starts again for the Cowboys.
South Alabama – All those Jaguar fans who thought USA would be competitive right away on the FBS are getting their medicine now. North Carolina State drilled the Jags 31-7. USA is at Mississippi State this week.
Florida Atlantic – The Owls are in for a long year. A 56-20 loss to Georgia was just part of the fun.
Florida International – Replacing a good quarterback is never easy, and it sure looks like FIU misses Wes Carroll after falling behind by 23 and losing to Central Florida 33-20. It was not a good turn of events for FIU, which is now 1-2. Louisville comes to town this week.