The Rimel Report

This is a look around the Sun Belt Conference for Week 14, as provided by Duane Rimel, who is a regular contributor to the Vandal eMail List.


North Texas clinches the Sun Belt Conference Championship and a trip to the New Orleans Bowl with a hard fought win over New Mexico State. It is the"Mean Green's" second straight conference championship. Congratulations to coach Darrell Dickey, his staff and players! In other conference action Arkansas State got a road win at Idaho, and Middle Tennessee beat up on Louisiana Monroe. In non-conference action, Lousiana Lafayette gave the mighty Arkansas Razorbacks a good game while losing. Sun Belt teams are now 10-32 against non-conference opponents.

The conference championship game was a real battle and had 6 lead changes and a great crowd of 20,064 in Denton. NT (6-5, 5-0) was behind 24-27 in the fourth quarter, but scored two late touchdowns to win. NMSU (6-5, 4-1) won the yardage battle easily (440 yards to 320), but the Mean Green defense forced 4 turnovers and got 5 quarterback sacks to provide the winning edge. NT tailback Kevin Galbreath was the hero, gaining 175 yards on 31 carries. The Mean Green win with defense and a punishing ground game. Next up for NT is a trip to MTSU as two point favorites. We hope NT does not let down now that they have clinched the conference crown, as a 7-5 overall record would be much better than 6-6 going in to the New Orleans Bowl. MTSU has revenge in mind however, as NT knocked MTSU out of the conference title last year. We will go with the revenge minded Blue Raiders over the "relaxed" conference champs. MTSU 24 NT 22. NMSU heads to UI as 5 point favorites, but might be flat after losing the championship game.
UI 38 NMSU 35

In spite of a great second half rally, the Vandals again come up losers as the favored team in front of 7,825 in the dome. The Vandals have lost all four games they have been favored in this year and would be 6-5 if they had won those games. It just gets sadder every week, as Tom Cable's record at UI drops to 8-25 and just 3-19 in the last two years. Congratulations to first year coach Steve Roberts whose Indians (6-7, 3-3) got their most wins since 1987! UI (2-9, 1-4) had a disastrous first half, probably best described by Jim Meehan of the Spokesman Review, "Idaho committed virtually every football sin - undisciplined play, dropped passes, missed tackles, costly penalties, turnovers, inept run defense, and poor pass coverage." Idaho was outagined 374 yards to 295, and with 5 interceptions, 1 lost fumble and 167 yards in penalties it is a wonder that the Vandals came as close as they did. The bright spots were Rod Bryant's 86 yard punt return for a TD and Blair Lewis's 101 yards rushing and 2 TD's. ASU is done for this season. Next up for UI is the final game of the season, hosting NMSU. Idaho is a "dangerous" 5 point underdog and the Aggies are coming off a heartbreaking loss to NT in the conference championship game. Why do we say "dangerous"?? UI's only two wins of the season have come as single digit home underdogs (SDSU and MTSU). Well guess what, Idaho is a single digit home underdog once again. Using that logic we will pick UI.
UI 38 NMSU 35

This game was not as close as the final score indicates, as MTSU (3-7, 2-3) was ahead 31-0 in the second quarter and the final score was as close as ULM (2-9, 1-4) ever came. MTSU outgains ULM 441 yards to 321 yards, in front of 8,320 in Murfreesboro. Next up for MTSU is a home game against conference champs NT. MTSU has revenge in mind as NT knocked them out of the New Orleans Bowl last year. NT is favored by 2, but we will go with the Blue Raiders. MTSU 24 NT 22. Next up for ULM is a home game against cross state rival ULL. ULL is favored by 3 and we think ULL will win by more.
ULL 34 ULM 24

The SEC's Razorbacks (7-3) never lost the lead, but ULL (3-8, 2-3) sure beat the 33 point spread in front of 54,843 in Fayetteville!! In a sloppy game with 7 turnovers (4 by ULL and 3 by UA), Arkansas outgained the Ragin Cajuns 404-229. Next up for ULL is a trip to ULM as 3 point favorites.
ULL 34 ULM 24


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