Last week the Sunbelt had a great week as Louisiana Monroe got a historical win over Arkansas. Other teams in the belt also won some of their out of conference games as well. However, this week will be different with eight teams from the Sunbelt going against BCS opponents. The other 2 matchups will be against conference USA opponents. I'm a little bit more optimistic than others as I see some real opportunities. Let's get into this week's picks.
Florida Atlantic vs Georgia
In the first two weeks, FAU has had a little success and a lot of disappointment. They had to implement a brand-new offense and rebuild an entire defense. And while their offense has had some success moving the ball, their defense has definitely been a weak point for this football team. However, let's face it. FAU is one of the worst teams in college football right now. And with Georgia's victory over Missouri last week, I'm going to go ahead and say that the 42 points at their getting is pretty conservative. Let's just hope that the refs call a time out to clean the blood off the field. It's a good thing that Georgia's team colors are red. I'm picking Georgia to win and cover.
JT's Pick: UGA to win and leave body parts all over the field
Arkansas State vs Nebraska
It's pretty easy to pick against a Sun Belt team especially when they're taking on an opponent such as Nebraska. However, Arkansas State was the best team in the Sunbelt last year and still has a lot of their offensive firepower this year.
In the first two weeks, it's their defense that has been a weak point on this team. They definitely aren't the same unit that they were year ago and have had a lot of personnel changes including their defensive coordinator who left for Ole Miss. In last week's game against Memphis, Arkansas State showed a lot of weaknesses especially on special teams, giving up two touchdowns on 2 inexcusable errors. Their offense really didn't have a problem as they put up 619 yards on a very porous Memphis defense. However, it's going to be a different story against Nebraska this week. The Huskers are getting a 24 point spread but I don't think they'll cover. I'm picking Nebraska to win but not cover.
JT's Pick: Nebraska to win but not cover
South Alabama vs North Carolina State
North Carolina State is getting a 32 point spread over a struggling South Alabama team. Although South Bama got their first win last week, it's going to be a lot more difficult against a BCS opponent. South Alabama is doing what a lot of Sunbelt teams have been doing for quite a while and that is run a pass happy spread offense. However, without the adequate personnel it will prove to be pretty ineffective against North Carolina State. State has a 31 point spread and I'm picking them to win and cover.
JT's Pick: NC State to win and cover
Florida International vs Central Florida
FIU has had some ups and downs this season so far. What's apparent is that they are not the same FIU team they were a year ago and with the losses of Hilton and others, they are in for an awakening. They're new QB has been pretty good though so far and FIU's offense has been pretty productive. Both rushing and passing offense are ranked 39th and 36th. Their pass efficiency and lack of defense is what has gotten them in the hot water in the last two games. Their defense has given up 84 points in 2 games alone and that's against Duke and Akron. Central Florida is also 1-1 however they had a much different result when they took on Akron. For that alone, I'm picking Central Florida to win this game but with 17 points being the spread right now, I think that's a little high so I'm going to pick Central Florida win but not cover.
JT's Pick: UCF to win but not cover
Louisiana-Lafayette vs Oklahoma State
It's interesting to me that Louisiana Lafayette has been so underrated this season so far. No one has really talked about them or has pointed out the fact that they've been one of the best in the Sunbelt not only last year but this year so far as well. In my opinion, they are the most complete team in the Sunbelt. What I mean by that is that they have a very good defense, a productive offense and solid special teams. They are a hard-working blue-collar football team. They gave up 485 passing yards last week to Troy but still won 37-24. What does that tell you? To me, it says that when it matters most, Lafayette does what they need to do win. Oklahoma State proved last week that you can't ignore any opponent you play. Arizona pretty much took them to the whoopin shed and it will be interesting to see which Oklahoma State team comes to play this week.
I personally think that Oklahoma State has lost a good bit of talent they had a year ago and for that reason alone, I'm picking Oklahoma State to win but not cover.
JT's Pick: OK State to win but not cover
North Texas vs Kansas State
If you watched any of the highlights from the Kansas State vs Miami matchup last week, it's not hard to figure out that they are going to absolutely destroy North Texas. I'm not saying that because North Texas is a Sun Belt team. I'm saying that because Kansas State looks that good. Their offensive attack was actually amazing to watch even in the highlights. I just can't see North Texas stopping that although they do have a decent defense especially in the run game. However, that's just not going to get it done against Kansas State. With all of that said, North Texas only lost to LSU by 27 points. The spread for this week is 28 and one thing that North Texas does very well is run time off of the clock. For that reason alone, I'm picking Kansas State to win but not cover.
JT's Pick: K State to win but not cover
Middle Tennessee St. vs Memphis
Last week, Memphis obviously took some steps towards improvement as they nearly upset Arkansas State. I watched this game last Saturday night and was pretty surprised especially in the first half. However, as the game went along it became obvious that Memphis was outmatched and outgunned.
Yes, they only lost by five points, however, their defense also gave up 619 yards and allowed Arkansas State to run for nearly 300 yards on the ground. Offensively, Memphis only put up 293 yards of offense with 13 first downs. So how did they stay so close in this game? Well, they were able to get two touchdowns from 2 special teams plays which is pretty extraordinary. However, that doesn't happen very often and you really can't look at that as a dependable stat in determining the outcome of a future football game.
Their quarterback looks to be pretty dependable as Jacob Karam completed 14 passes in 24 attempts for 154 yards with two touchdowns. That's pretty decent and I expect him to do much the same this week. Their defense is absolutely horrible. That's putting it nice. Memphis has already given up over 1000 yards into games and I expect them to also do pretty much the same against Middle Tennessee this week.
MT has also had their ups and downs this season. However, they have been able to get decent offensive production especially in the running game. The passing game is pretty good as well as Logan Kilgore has been pretty efficient so far this season. I'll look for middle Tennessee to pretty much stick to their game plan from last week against FAU and run the ball as often as possible taking time off of o'clock and hopefully hold on the football better than they did last week. BTW, This is the 3rd ESPN pillow fight of the week we've been involved in. So far, we're undefeated in these games. Let's hope we put a brick in our pillow cover once again and take UM to the whoopin shed. I think it will be really close though.
Middle has a three point spread over Memphis and I expect them to win and cover.
JT's Pick: MT to win and cover
Western Kentucky vs Kentucky
Western Kentucky has a great shot to pull an upset over Kentucky this week. They nearly did that last year and I expect for Western to come out and pretty much run the ball down Kentucky's throat. The one thing that Western has this year is defense. In the Alabama game last week, Alabama's QB was sacked quite a bit and that shows me that Western has the team speed to get after Kentucky. It's a seven point spread in favor of Kentucky right now and I think Western Kentucky can actually win this one. I'm picking them to win outright.
JT's Pick: WKU to win outright
Mississippi State vs Troy
Troy has offense and there's never been any question that they can move the ball on just about anybody. However what Troy doesn't have is defense and since Troy's offense takes as little time as possible off of the clock, their defense is pretty much left hung out to dry. Mississippi State proved that fundamental football works last week as they took on Auburn and pretty much crammed the ball right down Auburn's throat. Their defense is strong in just about every aspect this year. Troy may move the ball but they won't score much and their defense certainly won't stop Mississippi State from scoring especially in the run game. Therefore, I'm predicting that Mississippi State will win this one and cover.
JT's Pick: MSU to win and cover
Louisiana-Monroe vs Auburn
ULM is coming off of the best week they've ever had as a Division I football team. They're also getting a lot of national attention and I guess you would if you just knocked off the number 8 team in the nation. However, Vegas is still not respecting them very much as auburn has a 17 point spread in this game. To be quite honest, Auburn has done absolutely nothing to earn that 17 point spread. If you watch the game that they had with Mississippi State last week you'll agree with me when I say that they are absolutely horrible to watch. I don't think this just because they've faced a good team. I say this because their execution reminded me of a high school football team. They telegraphed just about every play they ran from the point they snapped the football until the play ended.
Auburn's pass defense is equally horrible to watch and because of that I think you can pretty much throw the 17 point spread out the window. Monroe proved last week that they can move the football on an SEC defense and they also showed that even though when they were down 28-7, they can still come back and win the game. They showed heart and determination, something that Auburn doesn't have.
I'm picking Monroe to upset Auburn. Even if Auburn wins, they certainly won't cover.
JT's Pick: ULM for the win
JT's picks of the week
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