Guest columnist Duane Rimel, a long-time contributor to the Vandal email list, provides a week-by-week look at the Sun Belt Conference, with a special focus on the Idaho Vandals (of course). We appreciate the opportunity to reprint his group's analysis of each SBC game, each and every week of the season.
This week, Idaho will take on.....nobody. Its BYE WEEK and the Vandals will try to regroup.
The Sun Belt Conference has become the "Mean Green and the seven dwarfs", as North Texas won their fifteenth consecutive conference game by defeating Middle Tennessee. In other games Utah State destroyed Arkansas State, Louisiana Lafayette defeated Idaho, and New Mexico State grabbed their first conference win by defeating Louisiana Monroe. North Texas looks like they
will again "run the table" on Sun Belt opponents, as they sport a 4-0 record and will be heavy favorites in their remaining three conference games with ULM, ASU and NMSU. They can almost start making reservations for New Orleans! There were no non-conference games, so the Sun Belt's
non-conference record remains the same at 4-34. Three conference teams (NT, ULL, & ULM) play non-conference games this weekend, while Idaho has the
weekend off. In conference action MTSU heads to USU and ASU heads to NMSU.
LOUSIANA LAFAYETTE 31 IDAHO 20
Four turnovers and 102 yards in penalties nullified a great game by Zach Gerstner (177 yds rushing, 59 yds receiving) and a 79 yard kickoff return for a TD by Rod Bryant. The Vandals outgain ULL 392 to 371 in front of 9,213 in Lafayette, but come up short on the scoreboard once again. Mike Harrington replaced Brian Lindgren after 2 series and had decent stats (17
of 28 for 190 yds, 1 TD and 1 interception). Idaho drops to 1-8 overall and 1-3 in conference, while ULL improves to 2-7 and 2-3. Our prediction of 31-28 was exactly right for ULL but not for UI. Tom Cable was quoted as saying about his team's performance, "This was unacceptable". Yes, Tom and so is your coaching record which is at 4-28 the past three years. It is the
worst 3 year record of any UI coach in 110 years of UI football. Next up for Idaho is a weekend off, while ULL heads to Southern Mississippi as 22
point underdogs. USM is 4-3 overall and 4-0 in Conference USA after a 27-6 whipping of South Florida this weekend.
USM 35 ULL 10.
NORTH TEXAS 33 MIDDLE TENNESSEE 28
NT jumped to a 20-7 halftime lead, then withstood a good MTSU rally. The Mean Green passed only 13 times but completed 10 of them for a whopping 230
yards as MTSU (2-6, 2-1) ganged up on the line of scrimmage to try to stop NT's ground game. NT (5-3, 4-0) managed to overcome 14 penalties for 121
yards. The Mean Green outgained the Blue Raiders by only 368 to 327, but found a way to win in front of 9,049 in Murfreesboro. Next up for North
Texas is a home game against future Sun Belt conference member Troy State as 11 point favorites. TSU is 4-4 and has quality wins over Marshall and UAB, so they should give NT a battle. We will go with homestanding NT in a close one.
NT 34 TSU 31.
UTAH STATE 49 ARKANSAS STATE 0
And we thought this would be a close game - wrong, wrong, wrong. For the second week in a row ASU (3-5, 1-2) fell apart while USU (2-6, 2-1) garnered their first shut out since 1995. ASU has been outscored 104 - 0 in their last two games as coach Steve Roberts seems to have lost his team. The Aggies take advantage of seven Indian turnovers, while outgaining them 366
to 272 in front of 12,516 in Logan. USU QB Travis Cox had a great day completing 14 of 21 for 260 yards and three TD's. Next up for Utah State is a home game against Middle Tennessee as 1 point underdogs. Looks like the Aggies are coming to life and we will go with them.
USU 31 MTSU 27.
NEW MEXICO STATE 21 LOUISIANA MONROE 14
The Aggies snap a 5 game losing streak with their first conference win. A bizzare game in the fact that NMSU (2-6, 1-3) outgained the Indians by a whopping 444 yards to 148 yards, but only win by seven! NMSU lead 15-0 at
halftime, but needed a fourth quarter TD to clinch the win. ULM (1-7, 1-3) played poorly after a week off in front of 7,108 in Monroe.
The Aggies option running game worked to perfection as they ran 71 times and gained 336 yards. Next up for NMSU is hosting ASU as 14 point favorites. ASU looks hapless at this point so we will go with the Aggies in a big win.
NMSU 41 ASU 17. Poor ULM heads to Auburn (5-3) who were embarrassed by LSU 7-31 on national TV Saturday. We expect Auburn and Cadillac Williams to take out their frustrations on the Indians.
Auburn 55 ULM 7.