Sun Belt Power Rankings: Week Five

Contributor - BlueRaiderZone.com
Posted Oct 3, 2012


It was an active week in the Sun Belt conference. There were several conference games plus ANOTHER big non-conference victory for the league. While there's plenty going right for the Sun Belt in 2012, the race for the league title is about to heat up as teams get further into Sun Belt play. So that begs the question ... how do the INDIVIDUAL teams stack up when you compare them against each other?

After five weeks of the season, here's how I see things:

1. Western Kentucky (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) – Won @ Arkansas State 26-13

Ranking Change: Up 1 Spot

The Hilltoppers take the top spot in this week’s poll after fighting back from a 13-point deficit at halftime. Obviously Western was able to make some halftime adjustments and scored 26 straight points to get a huge conference win on the road. The Hilltoppers continued to roll with their running game and their defense looks to be the real deal. If WKU can keep their winning streak alive, don’t be surprised to see them getting more votes in the Top 25.

Next Game: October 11 @ Troy.

2. Louisiana-Monroe (2-2) – Won @ Tulane 63-10

Ranking Change: Down 1 Spot

Its tough to legitimize dropping ULM from the top spot after a 53 point win. The Warhawks rolled over one of the worst teams in FBS grabbing more than 500 yards on offense. Monroe is beginning to get votes in the national polls, and if they can take their big offense into Sun Belt play, they could be breaking into the Top 25.

Next Game: October 6 @ Middle Tennessee.

3. Louisiana-Lafayette (3-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) – Won vs. Florida International 48-20

Ranking Change: None

The Cajuns were impressive this week, dominating the team that many felt was the favorite coming into the season. The passing game looked solid against what many thought would be a stout defense, though they did lose two fumbles. The Cajuns are coming into their own, and should be competing for the conference crown deep into the season.

Next Game: October 6 vs. Tulane.

4. Middle Tennessee (3-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) – Won @ Georgia Tech 49-28

Ranking Change: Up 4 Spots

Middle Tennessee grabbed the most impressive win of the week in the conference this week. The Blue Raiders completely dominated the second half of this game. If any team this week showed us what they are, I think Middle Tennessee showed us the most. If the Blue Raider’s defense can continue to perform for the rest of the season like they did Saturday, then two things will come true: 1. They will need a new co-defensive coordinator at the end of the year, 2. The Blue Raiders will be competing for the Sun Belt title.

Next Game: October 6 vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

5. Troy (3-2, 2-1 Sun Belt) – Won @ South Alabama 31-10

Ranking Change: Down 1 Spot

The Trojans were able to take care of business in a game that they easily should have. If there was one problem coming out of this game for Troy, its on their penalties and turnovers. The Trojans racked 10 penalties, and had five turnovers on the day. If they can’t find a way to fix these problems, they may play their way out of a shot at a conference title.
Next Game: October 11 vs. Western Kentucky.

6. Arkansas State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt) – Lost vs. Western Kentucky 26-13

Ranking Change: None

This week Arkansas State let a prime opportunity slip away. With all of the questions about exactly what this team is, I still think nobody really knows how good this team is. Turnovers came back to bite the Red Wolves this week against the Hilltoppers, but with an all Sun Belt schedule left this season, here’s to hoping that tough non-conference schedule pays off.

Next Game: October 4 @ Florida International.

7. Florida International (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) – Lost @ Louisiana-Lafayette 48-20

Ranking Change: Down 2 Spots

The pre-season favorite in the Sun Belt has not panned out as expected this season. While they have played a decent non-conference schedule, they let a couple wins slip away from them, and then under performed in their conference opener. Unless the Panthers can created some consistent offense and find the defense that’s gotten them to two straight bowl wins, they won’t be competing for a conference title.

Next Game: October 4 vs. Arkansas State.

8. North Texas (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) – Won @ Florida Atlantic 20-14

Ranking Change: Down 1 Spot

The Mean Green’s defense seems to be their saving grace this season. In their win against FAU, they forced 3 turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the game. However, North Texas has to find a way to score more efficiently if they want to be respectable in their last year in the Sun Belt.

Next Game: October 6 @ Houston.

9. Florida Atlantic(1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt) – Lost vs. North Texas 20-14

Ranking Change: None

Florida Atlantic's struggles continued this week, with a game Owl fans thought could be a conference win. Unless FAU can figure something out to improve on both sides of the ball, they may only see a chance for one or two more wins on their schedule this season.

Next Game: October 13 @ Louisiana-Monroe.

10. South Alabama (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) – Lost vs. Troy 31-10

Ranking Change: None

The Jags struggled to find any offense yet again. However, they seem to building quite the defense, forcing 5 turnovers against Troy. If USA wants to get a conference win this season, they will have to find a way to limit their penalties, and create some offensive production.

Next Game: October 13 @ Arkansas State.


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