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SBC - Battle for New Orleans

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SBC - Battle for New Orleans

This is from the SBC board:


Battle for New Orleans (Week 5)

OK, enough games have been played to get a feel for where the race is headed. League opening losses don?t rule out at a run at the title (UNT 2001, Louisiana Lafayette 2005), nor do opening wins make one a contender (ASU 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, UNT 2005 and numerous others).

Obviously a 7-0 record is the easiest way to win the league. 6-1 gives a team a great shot at tying if not winning outright. 5-2 in league way is the hard way to do it. With parity toward the top of the league so far, another 5-2 multi-team tie isn?t implausible but that?s the really hard way to do it.

With everyone except Troy and the Louisiana Cajuns having played a league game you can get a feel for things. Both of those teams are deliberately lower rated because they?ve not played a league game, we?ve seen too often that non-conference play isn?t often a good indicator of in-conference play. There have only been four league games played but the race is starting to shake-out because home teams went 1-3 in those games.

Teams are in three categories. From least likely to most likey they are: Headed to the showers, On the field, In the Red Zone

Headed To The Showers.

Florida International?s close losses were bound to take a toll. That toll got assessed Saturday. Even if FIU beats UNT this weekend the Panthers still have five losses and need a 6-6 or better record to get the New Orleans Bowl committee to take them in a tie, since 5-2 is the best they can do in league play a tie would be almost guaranteed if they win out in conference. After UNT the Panthers face Miami and Alabama. To go to New Orleans, FIU has to win out the league and split that Miami/Bama road swing.

Tiebreakers held: None.
Teams holding tiebreaker: MTSU and ASU



North Texas has played three games where they had less than 120 yards offense. A pourous defense isn?t a great sign either. The Mean Green lost at home to MTSU and doesn?t get a home game against any of the likely remaining contenders other than FAU. They get FIU at home and travel to everyone else. Contending would require taking both home games and at a minimum a split in the four road games, to get to 5-2, more likely they need 3-1 on the road and have to hope they don?t end up tied with MTSU or a team they lose to on the road. Absent the SMU game, UNT just hasn?t shown they are in the hunt.

Tiebreakers held: None
Teams holding tiebreaker: MTSU



On The Field.

Louisiana Monroe just accomplished the big ?no-no? of being a contender by losing at home to FAU. To be in the hunt they need to win the two remaining home games and take at least three on the road in trips to Troy, Lafayette, Jonesboro, and Miami. The only reason ULM is ?On the field? vs. ?Headed to the Showers? like UNT is because ULM was competitive in two of their three losses.

Tiebreakers held: None.
Teams holding tiebreaker: FAU


Troy has yet to play a league game. They?ve played some really good football and some bad football. They?ve got an open date to recover from a 4 game losing skid. The Trojans have a schedule designed to contend. Of the teams likely to be in the hunt, all but MTSU travel to Movie Gallery Stadium. The groundwork is there, if Troy plays like the team that gave Florida State and Georgia Tech fits, but no ?red zone? designation here until they actually play some league games.

Tiebreakers held: None.
Teams holding tiebreaker: None


Louisiana Lafayette hasn?t played a league game, so like Troy, doesn?t get their trip to the Red Zone until they win in league play. The Cajuns though seemed poised to repeat last year, starting rough and then finding their game. The Cajuns have four league home games and the biggest road challenges look to be Troy and FAU. They host MTSU and ASU.

Tiebreakers held: None.
Teams holding tiebreaker: None


Arkansas State entered league play having played six decent quarters of ball and six dreadful quarters, with the dreadful being the previous six. ASU smashed FIU with strong line play on the road. The schedule isn?t friendly with trips remaining to visit the Cajuns, Trojans and Owls. The Indians swept all three last year at Indian Stadium by a combined 12 points and failed to score a TD in two of those games. Winning the three league home games and one or two of the remaing road games might well mean a share of the league title and watching the New Orleans Bowl on TV because of the tiebreakers.

Tiebreakers held: FIU.
Teams holding tiebreaker: None



Florida Atlantic started out rough (what else can you call four losses where 45 points allowed was the best effort and 8 points scored the best scoring output). But we all know conventional wisdom for being a league contender demands winning all your home games and not picking up more than one or two league road losses. FAU has only three road trips in league play and has a league win on the road. They face only one road test against a contender traveling to MTSU. If the Owls can hold serve at home they are in the hunt.

Tiebreakers held: Over ULM.
Teams holding tiebreaker: None



In The Red Zone.

I admit its a bit early in the race to make someone this big of a front-runner but Middle Tennessee has won on the road and is the only team to post a conference home win. The schedule isn?t friendly with trips to both Louisiana schools and Arkansas State remaining along with home games against Troy and FAU. At this point though, MTSU is the team to catch. Tiebreakers held: FIU and UNT. Teams holding tiebreaker: None



Good, Bad, and In-Between Week 5

Here?s the good bad and ugly for Week 5. I let Sunday get away last week and ended up working on the road more than expected so didn?t get it done. No one except Cajun fans would have wanted to see it any way.


The Good.

Louisiana Cajuns roll up 367 yards offense and 30 points in the first three frames on the way to routing a bad MAC team. The old Jerry Babb is back, 17 of 21 for 202 yards and two TD?s as well as one rushing TD. Fenroy had only 15 carries but 110 yards. Cajuns get to .500 on the year and face CUSA leading Houston (4-1, 2-2) a week after they gave Miami all they wanted.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders finally get the big green monkey off their back routing North Texas in Denton. Clint Marks was 13 of 18 for 154 yards and one TD. Gross and Nair combined for 150 yards and three TD?s on the ground. The MTSU defense totally shut down UNT who crossed mid-field once. Blue Raiders stand atop the Sun Belt at 2-0. Things get tougher next week facing #8 Louisville.

Arkansas State came to Miami on the heels of 6 bad quarters of football. The Indians put the game in the hands of freshman running back Reggie Arnold, the offensive line and the defense. Arnold ran for 142 of ASU?s 222 yards on the ground. The ASU defense set the tone picking off Padrick on the first play of the game and added two more picks and a fumble recovery. ASU returns to Jonesboro to face ULM.

Florida Atlantic stopped its slide this year with a trip to Monroe and ESPN will have to bust-up its logo duo on the Bottom 10 as the Owls win their way off the list. Sean Clayton was 12 of 18 for 164 yards and one TD. Zero turnovers on the night for FAU despite three fumbles. The Owl defense was ripped for 407 yards but yielded only 2 TD?s and 2 FG?s and more importantly held when ULM tried the game tying two-point conversion. The Owls get a chance to build finally opening at home against I-AA Southern Utah after an open date.


The Bad.

North Texas for third time this season posted less than 120 yards offense. Against Texas? Understandable. Against 3-1 Tulsa of CUSA? Surprising. Against an MTSU that has at times struggled on D and never beaten UNT? Shocking. Jamario Thomas had 53 yards rushing in a game where UNT posted only 40 net yards rushing. Woody Wilson was 6 of 12 passing if you count the two passes completed to MTSU defenders, otherwise a dreadful 4 of 12 for 42 yards. How far as the UNT defense fallen? The 2002 UNT defense yielded 59 points in six conference games. This squad gave up 35 in one game. That 2002 team gave up its most points to Alabama in a 33-7 loss. UNT will get a shot at getting on track against turnover-prone FIU at home.

Florida International. NINE YARDS RUSHING. Maybe someone out there can overcome 9 yards rushing but not when you add 4 turnovers. Padrick was 18 of 35 for 177 yards but threw three picks. FIU?s only scoring drive was aided by 30 yards in penalties but FIU even lost the penalty battle being flagged 12 times for 121 yards to ASU?s 8 for 90. Something has to give next week when the Panthers face North Texas in a battle for offensive supremacy.

Troy had their rivalry game with UAB and has to be disappointed. Haugabook was 18 of 30 for 144 yards and no TD?s. The Troy offensive line yielded six sacks and managed to open up only enough room for 58 yards rushing on the evening. The Troy offense was able to convert two UAB turnovers into only three points. Troy hosts ULM after an open date.

Louisiana Monroe racked up 407 yards offense but only 19 points. Chance Payne and Kinsom Lancaster combined for 23 of 38 passing for 285 yards and each added a pick. ULM gave up more points to FAU than they had managed in the previous four games combined and became the first team that FAU held under 45 points, but then no one is mistaking any Sun Belt teams for teams coached by a Bowden or Spurrier or for anyone in the Big 12. The Warhawks travel to Arkansas State, a team that has shown some troubles carrying a good result over a week.


The In-Between

None. ULM almost made it, but losing at home in league play pretty much ruled that out.



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SBC - Battle for New Orleans

I think that was put together very well and I agree with the vast majoity of it. To start off with a win on the road is great, the only problem is our home record isn't our strongest point.

That's going to change this year though.

GO OWLS!
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