Around The Sun Belt - Week 9

Every week, BI takes you around the conference to catch you up on what else is happening to Texas State's competition and inside the conference.

Once again, the Sun Belt's best will take the stage Tuesday night when Louisiana-Lafayette travels to take on Arkansas State. This could be the decider for the Sun Belt Championship, an automatic bowl bid and the best shot to knock off the surging Ragin' Cajuns. Both teams can run the ball well - heck, it seems like running the football is a Sun Belt specialty this year. Lafayette is 21st in the nation while the Red Wolves are 31st. Both teams are undefeated in conference play and should make for a great match up.

How is Georgia Southern and Appalachian State doing in their rise to the Sun Belt Conference? It's a mixed bag. The Mountaineers, who have joined years of success at the FCS level of competition are not having a year to remember. The team is just 1-6 with a 31-21 victory over Elon. The team has scored 10 points or less three times this year. Georgia Southern, on the other hand, is 4-2 with close losses to FCS studs Samford and Wofford as their only slip ups. Why talk about these two teams now? They play each other this Saturday, on ESPN3.

Where does Sun Belt prestige rank among the nation's best? Not to high. The conference leader, Louisiana-Lafayette, received 0 votes in the AP Top 25 poll and 1 vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll. No other poll gave any mention of the Ragin' Cajuns or any other program in the conference. It doesn't help that 3 of the 8 schools in the conference are practically brand new to the FBS level and 2014 newcomers Idaho and New Mexico State are a combined lame 1-13, the one victory being a 2-point one for Idaho over Temple, who also only has one win this season.

2014 recruiting class projections aren't that much better for the conference. Louisiana-Lafayette leads the way, projected 77th in the country by the latest from our scout.com recruiting anlaysts. Texas State is just two spots behind at number 79. Overall, the conference ranks as the second lowest FBS conference in 2014 recruiting class projections. Only Conference-USA has a worst projected average class ranking.

As mentioned earlier, Sun Belt defenses are having a tough time containing all this rushing power. Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews leads the nation in rushing yards with 1,036 yards and 10 TD's. Rob Lowe is 34th in the nation, 2nd in the Sun Belt, with 619 yards and 7 TD's. Want more good conference publicity? Lafayette's Terrance Broadway is 20th in the country in QB efficiency, just one spot behind Clemson's Taj Boyd. Andy Erickson is 17th in punt return average while South Alabama's T.J. Glover is 18th in the nation in kickoff return average. Monroe's Isaiah Newsome still leads the nation in interception return yardage, 175, all from the Warhawks victory over Texas State two weeks ago.

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