The Rimel Report - Sun Belt Week #6

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, QB <b>Brian Lindgren</b> regained his starting job and will lead the Vandals against NMSU in Las Cruces. This will be the 10th meeting between the schools.

As predicted, North Texas and Utah State jump out to the early Sun Belt Conference lead with home field wins over Louisiana Lafayette and Louisiana Monroe. In non-conference action it was another bad week for Sun Belt teams as they go 0-3 and drop to 4-29 for the year. New Mexico State lost a heart breaker to archrival New Mexico, Arkansas State gave Memphis a battle before succumbing, and Idaho had an ugly loss to 1-AA Montana. Two conference games are slated for this weekend (UI @ NMSU and ULM @ ASU) while NT takes the weekend off. USU and ULL are heavy road underdogs in nonconference action, while MTSU hosts Temple after taking last weekend off.

Montana 41 IDAHO 28
Jeff Sagarin of USA Today had it exactly right - his computer said UM by 13! Because of injuries UM (3-1) was forced to alternate two freshmen QB's, one who had never played a down of college football. UM coach Bobby Hauck closed practices the last 2 weeks and installed an option running attack that caught the Vandals flatfooted. It was well reported in the Missoula media that UM would use "razzle dazzle plays" and maybe put in some option plays. They were right as the Griz first play from scrimmage was an end around that went for an 80 yard TD. The Vandals looked like the "Keystone Kops" in the first half as they were penalized 12 times. In UI's worst defensive performance of the year they gave up 344 yards rushing and 436 total yards to a team that was barely averaging 200 total yards a game. Three lost fumbles and several dropped passes contributed to the Vandals demise. Brian Lindgren replaced a struggling Harrington when the game was out of reach. Lindgren led the Vandals on 3 TD drives of 47, 80, and 65 yards and temporarily quieted the raucous record crowd of 23,700 in the fourth quarter. Lindgren passed for 200 yards and 2 TD's in a little over 1 quarter of play. As one Griz supporter told me after the game, "Tell your coach thanks for starting #7 at QB. UI could have won the game with #11 starting". As we said last week in our prediction for this game, teams in the habit of winning are usually successful. I vaguely remember when Idaho was one of those teams. Next up for UI (0-5) is a trip to Las Cruces to face NMSU as 11 point underdogs. The Aggies are coming off a tough loss to archrival New Mexico and will be in a foul mood. NMSU's option offense usually works extremely well against UI, and after watching the UM-UI game we suspect a banner rushing day for NMSU. If the Vandals could somehow slow the Aggies option offense, they might have a chance with Brian Lindgren at the helm. But realistically it looks like a UI loss.
NMSU 38 UI 17.

USU wins their first ever Sun Belt Conference game and also gets their first win of the season. Congrats to Aggies coach Mick Dennehy, as USU (1-3, 1-0) starts conference play in a tie for first place. It was a solid game for the Aggies as they controlled the game all the way and had 201 yards rushing on 40 attempts, outgaining the ULM (0-5, 0-1) by 323 yards to 257. Next up for USU is a trip to New Mexico (2-3) as 14 point underdogs. New Mexico is coming off a win over archrival NMSU and will probably win this one. We would like to predict an Aggie upset, but it looks like UNM 27 USU 14. Poor ULM heads to Little Rock to take on Arkansas State in a Sun Belt Conference game (why Little Rock instead of Jonesboro we have no idea?). ASU is favored by 8 and should win by more.
ASU 31 ULM 13

In spite of dominating in statistics the Mean Green were ahead just 30-23 in the fourth quarter in Denton, before pulling away with two late TD's. NT's defense came to play this week, holding ULL (0-5, 0-2) to just 27 yards on 31 tries and grabbing 3 turnovers! NT (2-3, 1-0) outgained the Ragin Cajuns 451 to 227 and start conference play with a win. For those of you counting, the win was UNT's twelfth straight Sun Belt conference win! Congratulations Mean Green on continuing your great run. Next up for North Texas is a weekend off and two weeks to prepare for their trip to Moscow to face the Vandals. (Just what the Vandals need, a well rested and well prepared championship team for the UI's first conference home game!) ULL heads to Stillwater, Oklahoma to face Oklahoma State (3-1) of the Big 12 and are 35 point underdogs. OSU has blown out their last three opponents after an opening loss to Nebraska (7-17). We see another blowout coming.
OSU 52 ULL 10

New Mexico 24 NEW MEXICO STATE 17
We predicted the score on this one pretty close (24-23), but wrongly had NMSU winning. This was a true heartbreaker for the Aggies as they outgained their archrivals 364 to 228 and LOST?! NMSU (1-3, 0-0) was ahead 14-7 at halftime and should have won, but five turnovers did them in. We feel badly for Aggie coach Tony Samuel because he really emphasizes the rivalry games and often wins them. UNM of the Mountain West Conference improved to 2-3. Next up for the Aggies is a visit from our Vandals as 11 point favorites. The Aggie option offense usually gives the Vandals fits and we do not see that changing.
NMSU 38 UI 17

Memphis 38 ARKANSAS STATE 16
Our prediction (38-24) was fairly accurate, but this was a close game for a long time. ASU (2-3, 0-1) led 10-3 at halftime and Memphis (3-1) of Conference USA led only 17-16 in the fourth quarter, before blowing it open with 3 late TD's. A pretty decent effort by ASU and much better than last week's disaster at Tulsa. Next up for ASU is a Sun Belt Conference game in Little Rock, Arkansas versus ULM as 8 point favorites. As mentioned earlier, we like ASU to win handily.
ASU 31 ULM 13

After a weekend off, MTSU (0-4, 0-0) hosts Temple of the Big East Conference. The good news for the Blue Raiders is that Temple is a 4 point underdog and is also 0-4. Temple also knows the "joys" of being beaten at home by a 1-AA team (Villanova) as do the Blue Raiders (Florida Atlantic). MTSU needs this game desparately to get some momentum for Sun Belt conference action. We will pick them in a close one.
MTSU 35 Temple 33


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