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FOX News - SBC: A Conference on the Rise


FOX News - SBC: A Conference on the Rise

Sun Belt: A conference on the rise
September 17, 2012

Philadelphia, PA Teams from the Sun Belt Conference garnered just two straight-up victories over Bowl Championship Series (BCS) competition the last two years combined.

Heading into Week 4 of the 2012 season the league already has two upset victories over BCS squads from the SEC. Western Kentucky topped Kentucky by one point in overtime this past Saturday just one week after ULM defeated then #8 Arkansas by three points in Little Rock.

Not only are Sun Belt clubs knocking off Southeastern Conference teams, they are dominating the entire landscape of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football.

Eight of the 10 league teams covered their games this past Saturday, including all four clubs that played SEC challengers. The once-downtrodden league is a healthy 14-5 against-the-spread in non-conference FBS play.

This coming off the heels of the league's first season above the .500 ATS mark versus other FBS teams since 2007. Going back to last season, teams in the Sun Belt have now covered 33 of their 54 FBS games, good for a 61 percent winning percentage. Of course that number doesn't come anywhere close to this year's 74 percent, but when it is judged against the 44 percent between 2008 and 2010, it sure sounds sweet.

Overall, the 10 Sun Belt squads have combined to go 10-3 ATS (77 percent) against teams from the six BCS conferences this year. That winning percentage should not come as a shock since the nine teams in the league a year ago covered 12 of 19 versus those clubs. And if South Alabama's 2011 contest against North Carolina State is counted, the 2011 ATS winning percentage jumps to 65 percent.

Given the fact the league covered just 39 percent of its games against BCS opponents in 2009 and 2010, the Sun Belt's recent success is an unbelievable accomplishment.

The key question that must be asked is, can the league continue its winning ways?

There are five matchups versus FBS competition this week beginning Friday night when ULM hosts Baylor. The Warhawks have been the most impressive of all the Sun Belt clubs, knocking off Arkansas in Week 2 and then taking Auburn to overtime before falling by a field goal.

Coach Todd Berry's squad could have been the unluckiest team in the conference last year as only one team (league champion Arkansas State) outgained its league opponents by more yards than ULM and yet the Warhawks won just three of the eight contests.

Baylor struggled mightily with Sam Houston State this past weekend, but the Bears have one of the top receivers in the country in Terrance Williams, and quarterback Nick Florence already has thrown seven touchdown passes in just two games. Expect a close game between two underrated squads.

The Saturday slate features two contests that will be on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the line. Top-ranked Alabama hosts Florida Atlantic in a game that could have one of the largest spreads between two FBS schools.

Almost due north of Tuscaloosa is Bowling Green, Ky., and that's where Southern Miss will be taking on Western Kentucky. Willie Taggart's club must bounce back very quickly from its upset victory over in-state rival Kentucky, but catches a break as the Golden Eagles are a shell of their former self at 0-2.

The two other non-conference matchups have FIU hosting Louisville less than one year after the Golden Panthers upset the Cardinals, and South Alabama at Mississippi State. Can the Jaguars give the Sun Belt another cover against a team from the SEC? We'll find out by Saturday night.

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Re: FOX News - SBC: A Conference on the Rise

As the current SunBelt teams such as WKU, Troy, FAU, MTSU, etc continue to build thier programs and the schools keep gaining attendence and the areas keep gaining population…they will become more and more dangerous.

Teambeer is the most knowledgeable FAU sports fan I know, way smarter than me.
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Re: FOX News - SBC: A Conference on the Rise

The football landscape is slowly changing, and in the near future I think your gonna have a couple dominant SEC teams which are contenders every year and then you'll have everyone else. Parity is coming to the conferences, especially with all the movement that has been happening the last two years. Should be a fun ride.

FAU - We got Bowls!
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