The Rimel Report

After a good showing by the Sun Belt a week ago, the conference takes a step back this past weekend. Only UL-Lafayette turned in a victory, and Middle Tennessee turned in the biggest head-shaking collapse on the weekend.

A rough week for Sun Belt teams, as Arkansas State gets the only win and over a 1-AA team. The most shocking loss was by Middle Tennesse, who lost at home to 1-AA SE Missouri! Idaho and North Texas played well against Pac-10 schools, as both easily beat the point spread. New Mexico State got "big played" by #7 ranked Georgia and was blown out. So it was a 1-4 weekend for Sun Belt teams and the record against nonconference teams dropped to 6-24. But this week should be very good for the Sun Belt as four teams are home field favorites. The second conference game of the season also takes place as Middle Tennessee visits Arkansas State. USA Today's schedule toughness rankings include three Sun Belt teams in the Top Ten - Idaho #4, North Texas #6, and New Mexico State #9.

Washington 41 IDAHO 27
The Vandals did better than our forecast (45-21) and much better than the 30 point spread. The Vandals gained 404 yards against the number 12 team in the nation, scored 27 points and got 24 first downs in front of 70,070 fans. The team played hard, the coaching staff made good half time adjustments, and we are darned proud of them! Up next for the Vandals (1-4) is a crucial game against archrival Montana, and the Grizzlies are loaded with the confidence of winning a national championship last fall and of having an eighteen game winning streak. Coach Joe Glenn is 32-3 since coming to UM and has remarkably improved an already great football program. These are not your pass happy, bad defense Griz of a few years ago. Mr. Glenn has installed a very successful balanced offense that often finds the Griz running more than passing! They play good sound defense too. The Vandals are modest 3 point home favorites (Sagarin), but will probably need their best effort of the year to win. The Griz (4-0) have a very confident "swagger" these days and UI has lost the last two. Most of you are probably expecting a 45-43 shootout as in days past, but we have a strange feeling that this is going to be an old fashioned, smash mouth football game, with the last men standing the winners. With a packed dome, the Vandals can pull out a squeaker.
UI 20 UM 19.

Arizona 14 NORTH TEXAS 9
Surprisingly, North Texas outgains the Pac-10's Wildcats 431 to 310, but 3 turnovers cost them the game in front of 37,917 in Tuscon. A blocked FG returned for a TD was the winner for Arizona. Wow, now that NT has figured out a way to move the ball and with their always great defense, they have a darn good chance to repeat as Sun Belt champions. Keep an eye on this team that has 20 returning starters from last year! Next up for NT (1-3) is a home game as 2 point favorites over 1-A independent South Florida. The Bulls have great athletes from the football crazy high schools of Florida, are 2-2 and played #3 Oklahoma last week losing 14-31. We think the Eagles disciplined defense and newly discovered offense may be too much for the Bulls.
NT 22 USF 18.

Georgia 41 NEW MEXICO STATE 10
The #7 ranked Bulldogs win on big plays including a 78 yard interception return for a TD, and a 71 yard punt return for another TD. Aggies do well from the line of scrimmage holding Georgia to 299 yards while getting 275 themselves in front of 86,520 in Athens. Our 38-13 forecast was pretty close. Next up for NMSU (1-3) is a home game against neighbor and archrival UTEP of the WAC. NMSU is a whopping 16 point favorite and will have another packed house in Las Cruces! UTEP (1-4) is coming off a 24-58 loss to San Jose State and is really struggling. The Miner's only win was over the Big Sky's Sacramento State. NMSU coach Tony Samuel is very good in rivalry games an we like the Aggies chances.
NMSU 39 UTEP 20.

Southeast Missouri 24 MIDDLE TENNESSEE 14
This is a shocker! MTSU was favored by 25 and lost by 10 at home in front of a great crowd of 27,519. Undoubtedly the most embarrasing loss in coach Andy McCollum's 3+ years at Murfreesboro. Boy, it will be back to basics in practice this week!! SE Missouri, a 1-AA team scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to win and outgained the Blue Raiders 407-284. Up next for MTSU (0-4) is a trip to Jonesboro to face Arkansas State in the second Sun Belt Conference game of the year. The Vegas boys have installed MTSU as a 20 point road favorite over ASU (3-3), evidently assuming last week was a complete fluke for MTSU. We tend to agree and feel coach McCollum will have his team breathing fire next week. But ASU is better than some think.
MTSU 34 ASU 27.

ARKANSAS STATE 30 Tennessee Martin 10
ASU (3-3) becomes the first team in the Sun Belt to win three games, and new coach Tony Roberts has already exceeded last year's win total. Congrats to Tony and the Indians. Our prediction of 31-10 was pretty close, as ASU romps over 1-AA UTM. ASU outgains UTM 337 yards to 211 and the ASU defense comes up with five QB sacks, in front of 14,826 in Jonesboro. Next up for Arkansas State is a home game against MTSU as 20 point underdogs. As mentioned previously we think MTSU will get its first win.
MTSU 34 ASU 27.

After a big shut out win over UAB of Conference USA last week, ULL has had two weeks to prepare for the mighty LSU Tigers of the SEC who are ranked #19 in the nation. Nothing ULL (1-3) would love better is to beat their big-time cross state rival, but the trip to Baton Rouge will likely be a tough one for the Ragin Cajuns, as LSU (3-1) is favored by 29. We would love to see ULL pull the upset but we doubt it.
LSU 41 ULL 17.

Tulane at LOUISIANA MONROE Struggling ULM (0-4) has had two weeks to prepare for a rare visit from Conference USA's Tulane (2-3). Tulane will probably give ULM it's best crowd in years! Tulane is favored by 13, but is coming off a 0-49 shellacking from #2 ranked Texas in New Orleans and will be looking for someone to beat. ULM, whose coach resigned two weeks ago, will have to play a super game to win. We do not think that will happen.
Tulane 29 ULM 10.



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