The Rimel Report

While Idaho is still trying to sort out what transpired in Moscow last weekend, New Mexico State is starting to hit on all cylinders after years (er, decades) of struggling. Here's a look at what happened around the Belt, and what is coming up this weekend.

What seemed certain to be a good week for Sun Belt teams turned sour, whenIdaho and North Texas blew close games at home. The bright spots were New Mexico State, which crushed archrival UTEP, and Arkansas State which notched its fourth win of the season and second conference win by beating Middle Tennessee. ULM and ULL both got blown out as expected. Sun Belt teams dropped to 7-28 against nonconference foes. Although Arkansas State is off to a great start, the conference championship could boil down to the NT - NMSU game in Denton on November 16. The best news of the week for the Sun Belt is that Utah State is joining the conference! This will give the Sun Belt four football playing conference members west of the Mississippi (UI, USU, NMSU, and NT) and help alleviate some of the blistering press that UI gets for playing in a conference with few western rivals.

Montana 38 IDAHO 31
The Vandals revert to 2001 form in the second half and blow a winnable game in front of 14,047 in the Dome. The fans blame the coaches, while running back Blair Lewis says the Vandals did not play hard. We only know it was pitiful to watch. With just a couple of minutes left in the first half and a 24-14 lead, momentum switched. We watched the Vandal offense play nearly 30 minutes without getting a first down, while UM (5-0) scored 24 unanswered points - 3 field goals, two TD's, an extra point, and a two point conversion. Bottom line, the Vandals were outcoached, outplayed and outhustled! Next up for the Vandals is a trip to Monroe, Louisiana to play the worst team in 1-A football, ULM (0-5). The Indians coach resigned 3 weeks ago and the defensive coordinator is running the team. They lost at home last weekend 9-52 to Tulane, turning the ball over 7 times. The Vandals (1-4) are somewhat surprising 14 point favorites. Tom Cable's job as head coach of the University of Idaho comes down to conference play. If the Vandals cannot beat the worst team in the conference, a 1-11 or 2-10 season is probable. We honestly hope the Vandals rebound and that Tom Cable makes us eat our words, but after watching Saturday's "Debacle in the Dome", we have our doubts. We will use our rose colored glasses one more time and predict a Vandal win. But if the Vandals lose this one, we are really going to get blunt next week.
UI 34 ULM 29.

NEW MEXICO STATE 49 Texas El-Paso 14
Tony Samuel's Aggies blow out their neighbor and archrival UTEP (1-5) from the "mighty" WAC in front of a packed house of 30,605 in Las Cruces. We told you Tony emphasizes these rivalry games! This game was over early as NMSU (2-3) jumped to a 21-0 lead and lead 35-7 at the half. The Aggies option attack got 303 yards rushing and another 189 through the air, while the defense forced three UTEP turnovers. Next up for NMSU is the Aggie's first Sun Belt Conference game, hosting ULL as 11 point favorites. We really like NMSU in this one.
NMSU 38 ULL 17.

New coach Steve Roberts and his ASU team continue to amaze us. They have already doubled last year's win total and are 4-3 and 2-0 in conference, and the fans are coming back as 16,191 attended. MTSU was favored by 20 and lost again, falling to 0-5 and 0-1 in conference. After a great 8-3 year in 2001, MTSU has really fallen on hard times! The Indians used a punishing ground attack (42 rushes for 229 yards) to keep the normally potent MTSU offense on the sidelines, but won the game on a 33 yard interception return for a TD late in the third quarter. Next up for ASU is a trip to Ole Miss of the SEC, and ASU picked a very bad time to visit. Mississippi knocked off #6 ranked Florida 17-14 Saturday for one of the biggest victories in Ole Miss history. The Rebs are now ranked #25 and are 28 point favorites over ASU. ASU could be walking into a buzz saw.
Mississippi 31 ASU 13.

Middle Tennesse heads to Vanderbilt (1-4) as 17 point underdogs. MTSU upset Vandy of the SEC last year, but the Commodores have had two weeks to prepare for their cross state rival and should win.
Vandy 27 MTSU 13.

South Florida 24 NORTH TEXAS 17
It was 10-10 after 3 quarters when NT quarterback Andrew Smith uncharacteristically turned the ball over four times in the fourth quarter (3 interceptions and 1 fumble) allowing SF to win in front of 15,512 in Denton. The very athletic Bulls had great yardage (432), but were hurt by 17 penalties for 137 yards - wheew! After a great game against Arizona the NT offense was slowed to 198 yards total. Next up for NT (1-4) is a week off and two weeks to prepare for a showdown with conference leader ASU.

The Indians led the mighty Green Wave from Conference USA 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, but after that it was all Tulane. ULM had respectable yardage (359 total), but 7 turnovers and 9 penalties helped Tulane. Next up for ULM is hosting our Idaho Vandals as 14 point underdogs. Since the Vandals have only won 1 game outside the Palouse since 1999, this game will probably be very close, but we will go with the Vandals.
UI 34 ULM 29.

Louisiana State 48 LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE 0
ULL is totally humiliated in front of 91,357 in Baton Rouge, as #19 ranked LSU cruises to victory. ULL (1-4) managed only 70 yards of offense and it was 41-0 at halftime, allowing LSU to clear the benches in the second half. Next up for ULL is a trip to New Mexico State for the Ragin Cajuns first Sun Belt Conference game of the year. NMSU is favored by 11 and we really like NMSU in this one.
NMSU 38 ULL 17.


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