The Rimel Report - Sun Belt Week #5

Guest columnist Duane Rimel, a long-time contributor to the Vandal email list, provides a week-by-week look at the Sun Belt Conference, with a special focus on the Idaho Vandals (of course). We appreciate the opportunity to reprint his group's analysis of each SBC game, each and every week of the season.<br> <br> This week, TE <b>Mike McCoy</b> and the Vandals take on Montana in Missoula. This Border War clash will be the 83rd meeting between the schools, in a rivalry that began in 1903.

Another tough week for Sun Belt Conference teams as they go 0-6 Saturday, dropping to 4-26 for the season against non-conference teams. The only bright spot was Middle Tennessee who took undefeated and #23 ranked Missouri into overtime, only to lose it on a missed extra point. We feel badly for the Blue Raiders. Poor Lousiana Monroe lost another home game to a 1-AA team -sad, sad, sad. The only ray of sunshine for Vandal fans is the fact that they are one of five Sun Belt teams that have yet to win a game. The conference race seems very wide open.

Washington 45 IDAHO 14
The Vandals played their hearts out and in the third quarter were down only 14-17, when they picked off an intereception that silenced the 70,000 UW fans. Unfortunately the Vandals (0-4) went "three and out" on this possession and two more, while the #18 ranked Huskies (2-1) went on 3 consecutive TD drives to make it 38-17. Gilby then cleared the bench, and unfortunately his reserves scored again. Zach Gerstener had a great game (104 yards and a one handed TD catch) as the offensive line did a better job of run blocking this week against the mighty Huskies, than they did against BSU. The Vandal passing game floundered with only 9 completions in 30 attempts for a meager 86 yards. In the end the Huskies out gained the Vandals 502-206. Our prediced outcome (41-13) was unfortunately very accurate. Next up for the Vandals is a trip to 1-AA powerhouse Montana as 13 point underdogs (Sagarin). As always, this is a game the Vandals can win, but sadly they are 0-3 in their last three attempts. The Griz (2-1) have struggled offensively under new coach Bobby Hauck, but have won two games with turnovers, big plays, and special teams. We anticipate a fairly close low scoring contest, with the Griz finding a way to win in the end. Teams in the habit of winning are usually successful. We will be in the stands pulling for a big Vandal upset but it does not look likely.
UM 23 UI 17.

A heartbreaking loss for the Blue Raiders, as they take undefeated and #23 ranked Missouri (4-0) of the Big 12 into overtime, only to lose it on a missed extra point. This was no fluke, as MTSU (0-4) gained 483 yards versus 488 for Tigers, and there were no turnovers by either team. This is a performance more like what we expected from our pick to win the Sun Belt Conference title. Firey coach Andy McCollum has finally got the Blue Raiders playing well. Next up is a weekend off, before hosting Temple of the Big East Conference.

We did not see this train wreck coming! ASU (2-2) was favored by 4 and lost by 47. We are not sure if we have ever seen such an event before. The Indians turned it over 4 times in the first half, all leading to Tulsa TD's and the rout was on. Without question the worst perfomance by ASU since second year coach Steve Roberts took over. Even worse news for ASU is that this game counts as a conference game, because ASU could not get ULL on their schedule this year. The Sun Belt Conference mandated that this game would count as a conference game as a firm message about conference football scheduling. Next up for ASU is a trip to Memphis(2-1) as 17 point underdogs. Since Memphis knocked off Ole Miss of the SEC just 2 weeks ago, we have to go for Memphis of Conference USA.
UM 38 ASU 24.

Arkansas 31 NORTH TEXAS 7
The 14th ranked Razorbacks (3-0) made quick work of NT. It was 31-7 at halftime and obviously no scoring in the second half. Arkansas had a 326 to 194 yardage advantage and covered the 22 point spread. Next up for NT is the Sun Belt Conference home opener against Louisiana Lafayette as 18 point favorites. NT coach Darrell Dickey sounded frustrated in his post game comments and we expect he and his team will take it out on the Ragin Cajuns. NT (1-3) has just one win, a blowout of Baylor, but we feel another blowout coming.
NT 41 ULL 9.

Our prediction of 49-10 proved reasonbaly accurate, as the #24 ranked and undefeated Golden Gophers of the Big Ten soundly trounced the Ragin Cajuns. ULL (0-4) was outgained 530 to 204, and it was 41-7 at halftime. Poor ULL was our pick for the conference basement and is starting to look the part. They play their first conference game next week at defending champion North Texas and as mentioned earlier we expect NT to win handily. As if ULL does not have enough problems, they start Sun Belt action at 0-1 without having played a Sun Belt opponent. Because ULL did not put either Utah State or Arkansas State on their schedule this year, the Sun Belt Conference mandated that their Louisiana Tech loss would count as a conference game. Another later 1-A game will also count as a conference game for ULL.
NT 41 ULL 9.

Northwestern State 14 LOUSIANA MONROE 10
As we predicted poor ULL loses at home for the second time this year to a 1-AA opponent, this time to cross state rival NWS (formerly NE Louisiana). Four turnovers by the Indians hampered their chances of a victory. Next up for ULM (0-4) is a trip to Logan, Utah for their Sun Belt Conference opener against Utah State as 19 point underdogs. USU is 0-3, but has played a very difficult schedule. USU had Saturday off and two weeks to prepare for ULM. We expect the Aggies to win their first ever Sun Belt Conference game with ease.
USU 45 ULM 20.

The Aggies had Saturday off and two weeks to prepare for archrival UNM Lobos. UNM (1-3) gave the #21 ranked WSU Cougars all they could handle in Pullman Saturday before falling 13-23 and have been installed as 12 point home favorites over visiting NMSU (1-2). Aggie coach Tony Samuel has a good record in rivalry games (UTEP, UNM), winning both of them last year. With two weeks to prepare we like NMSU's chances, although UNM will be out to avenge last year's loss. We will go out on the limb here and predict an Aggie upset.
NMSU 24 UNM 23.


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