Looking at Sun Belt Week 1

Football returns! A capsule look at each of this week's Sun Belt Conference games.

THURSDAY
Southern Utah at South Alabama
. The Thunderbirds of SUU went 5-6 last year but 4-4 vs. FCS. They were fairly competitive in their two FBS games (Utah State and Cal). USA was 2-11 but was pretty competitive in a number of games and they were among the worst in the nation taking care of the ball. The Jaguars don't need style points on Thursday, they just need a win to advance the program. Available on ESPN3.

FRIDAY
Samford at Georgia State
. Samford averaged 3.5 points per game less last year with former OC Rhett Lashlee gone but improved from 6-5 to 7-4. They are coached by former TCU head man Pat Sullivan. Georgia State is in the second year of transition to FBS under new head coach Trent Miles. The Panthers won one game last year and were not competitive in most games. A win by Georgia State would show they are getting on the right track with transition but they should be an underdog in this game. Available on ESPN3.

SATURDAY
Louisiana at Arkansas
. The co-Sun Belt favorites are hoping to replicate ULM's series opening win against the Hogs. The Razorbacks are a 10.5 point favorite under their new head coach. The comparisons to last year's ULM-Arkansas game are inevitable but Arkansas squandered a chance to put that game away by repeatedly throwing incomplete passes stopping the clock giving ULM the time needed to tie. That won't happen with this staff. A better comparison is 2008 Arkansas State vs. Texas A&M. A squad that knew who they were vs. a team trying to do something vastly different. The Hogs are a favorite for a reason. They will try to control the clock meaning Broadway and company have to take advantage of the chances they do get. Available on Fox SW and other regional Fox Sports Nets.

ULM at Oklahoma. The other side of the Sun Belt's pick for first place are 21 point underdogs at OU. The Sooners were Big XII co-champs at 10-3. They've had a few sluggish starts in the Stoops era. Kolton Browning healthy and ready to go is trouble for defenses but the scenario is completely different from last year when the Warhawks beat Arkansas and took Auburn to OT. The Sooners are much better and not facing the sort of turmoil Auburn or Arkansas faced. Likely a tough week for the Warhawks. Available on Fox PPV.

Texas State at Southern Miss. The Bobcats opened with a win over Houston last year but were all over the place after that impressive win. Southern Miss followed up a C-USA title with their first ever 0-12 campaign. Getting the Eagles back on track is now the task of highly regarded offensive mind Todd Monken. The Eagles are 8.5 point favorites. No TV.

UAB at Troy. This in-state series has provided entertaining games with Troy winning the last two and the UAB win in 2010 controversial because the goal line camera needed to verify that UAB had scored the winning touchdown was inoperable. Troy is a 4 point favorite. Game available on ESPN3.

Kentucky at Western Kentucky (in Nashville). Western won last year with successful two point conversion in overtime. Both teams come in under new coaches Bobby Petrino at WKU and Mark Stoops at Kentucky. The Wildcats are 4.5 favorites. The game is available on ESPN News

UAPB at Arkansas State. The Golden Lions bring in a seven game win streak after winning the SWAC championship. Arkansas State is riding an 8 game win streak. The game is UAPB's first against an FBS school since losing 31-10 at UTEP in 2010. New head coach Bryan Harsin will try to be the first A-State coach to win his first game at the school since Larry Lacewell in 1979. Game available on ESPN3.