Seven games highlight Week 4 for the Sun Belt including a matchup on ESPN
Earlier this week Florida Atlantic defensive lineman Cory Henry made the latest national news for the Sun Belt Conference, claiming that the Owls could defeat defending national champion and #1 ranked Alabama on Saturday.
FAU is 49-point underdogs to the Crimson Tide and appear to be severely overmatched after getting pounded by Georgia a week ago.
While many out there think that Henry’s statement is a bit out of line, let’s keep in mind what he is actually saying.
“They ain’t what people think,” Henry said. “They’re good and everything but they can beat, too. They just execute well. They just execute and beat you.”
“We got speed against them,” he said. “You got speed you can win.”
So what’s all the fuss about?
Henry simply feels that Alabama executes well on offense, but can be beat.
Could this statement possibly be true?
Well yes, because if you look at what fellow conference member Western Kentucky did against the Crimson Tide in the second week of the season, the result might be shocking.
The Hilltoppers — who have won 9 of their last 11 games — sacked Alabama 6 times and held their powerful running attack to just 103 yards. (The lowest the Crimson Tide had gained in five games)
Now, we all know that the Owls are simply not that good this year, but the one trait they do posses is speed on defense.
So when Henry says that by having speed you have an advantage and can win is that not true?
Alabama is going to line up in a lot of three tight-end sets on Saturday, and let’s be honest here, most of those big boys aren’t that quick.
In addition to the conference calling out the top ranked team in the nation, Florida International plays host to #20 Louisville and Louisiana-Monroe gets a primetime home game against Baylor on ESPN.
Last season when the Panthers faced Louisville, wide receiver TY Hilton had his coming out party (201 receiving yards, 2 TDs) in a surprising 24-17 win on the road. Lots of things have changed since then: Hilton now plays for the Colts and Louisville is 3-0 and nationally ranked.
Don’t expect the same result for Mario Cristobal and his squad this time around.
If you are however looking for another upset by the conference, ULM appears to be the team to keep an eye on.
After shocking Arkansas in their opener, the Warhawks took Auburn to overtime last week before losing by a field goal.
This week they a face a Baylor team that really doesn’t have an identity.
Since losing Robert Griffin III to the NFL, Baylor has played two contests, but no real answers on how good the team is have become apartment.
One thing that is clear is the dual-threat capability of ULM quarterback Kolton Browning.
The signal caller has drawn comparisons to a poor man’s version of Tim Tebow and accounts for 80% of his team’s offense.
Rumor has it Monroe stadium is sold out for Friday night’s nationally televised contest, and look for Browning to have his team in position to knock off another big opponent.
Weekend Primer: (9-1 last week)
Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe- 8:00 PM (ESPN) – The Warhawks have quickly become one of the most talked about teams in all of college football, and a win Friday night would only magnify their coverage. This will be Baylor’s first road game of the season after they went just 1-3 in true road contests a year ago. Malone Stadium should be electric for ULM’s home opener and all of the pieces look in place for another upset. The pick: Louisiana-Monroe 34-28
Florida Atlantic at #1 Alabama- 5:00 PM (ESPN 3) – This will mark the first time in program history that the Owls will face the top ranked team in the nation. After getting hammered by #7 Georgia a week ago, a similar result looks to be on the horizon. FAU is tied for last in the nation with just two sacks this season. The Pick: Alabama 56-7
Southern Miss at Western Kentucky- 7:00 PM (ESPN 3) – After last week’s magical win over Kentucky, the Hilltoppers are looking to start the season 3-1 for the first time since 2007. Southern Miss comes into the contest winless and in desperate need of a victory. WKU has won 9 of their past 11 contest with the only losses coming to Alabama and LSU. The pick: Western Kentucky 31-21
Troy at North Texas- 7:00 PM (ESPN 3) – The only conference matchup on this week’s slate, pits two teams that finished at the bottom half of the Sun Belt standings a season ago. The Trojans are 7-2 all-time against the Mean Green, but lost 38-33 last season at home. Troy’s quarterback Corey Robinson leads the conference in passing while North Texas’s defense ranks third against the pass. The pick: Troy 35-24
Southern Alabama at #23 Mississippi State- 7:00 PM (ESPN 3) – Mississippi State struggled against Troy last week while the Jaguars got blown out at NC State. This is the conference’s dog of the week unless you want to watch the Bulldogs score a bunch of points. The pick: Mississippi State 56-7
Alcorn State at Arkansas State- 7:00 PM (ESPN 3) – Redwolves’ quarterback Ryan Aplin needs two touchdown passes to enter the school record books as the all-time leader in the category. He should have plenty of opportunities to accomplish the task against the Braves. (Yes, I had to look up their mascot.) The pick: Arkansas State 49-16
#20 Louisville at Florida International- 7:00 PM (ESPN 3) – Louisville travels to Miami with a roster full of Floridians looking to revenge last season’s troubled loss to the Golden Panthers. FIU is coming off a tough loss in which they outscored Central Florida 20-10 in the second half. Running back Darian Mallary is tied atop the conference for the most rushing touchdowns with five. The pick: Louisville 35-17