A rather dull, uninspiring week two for the ‘Funbelt (only three league members scored victories, two of which came against FCS foes) along with both ULM and Arkansas State’s games being cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. However, it wasn’t completely gloom and doom, especially if you’re an Aggies fan…
WEEK TWO’S BIGGEST WINNER: NEW MEXICO STATE
For program facing a murky future, the Aggies have thus far put on rather inspiring performances in the early goings of the 2017 season. After giving everything the Sun Devils wanted and then some, the Aggies rolled into Albuquerque as -7 point dogs and left with a 30-28 victory, improving their record to 1-1. Despite allowing 23 points in the 4th, it was still an overall impressive offensive showing for New Mexico State, with Tyler Rogers once again going off completing nearly 60% of his passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns, and wide out Izaiah Lottie hauling in 102 yards in receptions and a touchdown to boot. While the Aggie D still has been given up a slew of yards (830 yards and 65 points in the first two showings), the key difference has been the offense playing much more consistently. As we head into week three, what seemed to be a favorable road trip for Troy has quickly shifted into the game becoming the league’s match-up of the week now (who would’ve thunk it??).
Week TWO’S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: (TIE) IDAHO & GEORGIA SOUTHERN
In the words of the legendary comedian Chris Farley…”HOLY SHNIKES.”
Where to begin with both these games? I suppose we’ll start in Moscow. After a rather sluggish victory in week one against Sacramento State, their was still cautious optimism that Paul Petrino and his Vandals would come out much more inspired and the very least have more ‘pop’ offensively as they were set to host a UNLV squad that had recently lost at home against HBCU program Howard, earning the embarrassing accomplishment of being the losing team in sports gambling’s biggest point spread upset in history (the Bison in some Vegas books were 600 to 1 dogs). However, the Rebels channeled their inner Taylor Swift and shook off the seemingly crushing defeat and instead limited the Vandals to 384 total yards and steamrolled Idaho inside the Kibbie Dome 44-16 (keep in mind the 2016 Idaho Vandals averaged nearly 400 yards a game and the Rebels surrendered an average of 430 yards in 2016). If there ever was biggest dramatic improvement nominations, UNLV certainly would have a strong case. Meanwhile things in Moscow has quickly turned to panic, as the Vandals now face looming road trips to Western Michigan this week followed by traveling to Mobile Alabama the following Saturday.
Meanwhile across the country earlier that day…
The Eagles were forced to move their home opener to Birmingham due to Hurricane Irma. Despite the disappointment of only having four games in Statesboro now, many still assumed Georgia Southern would be able to bounce back from the shellacking they took at the hands of Auburn in week one and get a nice confidence boosting victory courtesy of the New Hampshire Wildcats. However, UNH must’ve not received that email reminder as the Wildcats jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the first quarter and went on to stun the Eagles 22-12 Saturday. The rushing attack wasn’t necessarily the problem–Southern was able to attain 233 yards compared to the previous week’s total of 70–but two turnovers along with an inability to punch the ball across the plane really sunk Georgia Southern. This is the first time since 1994 that the Eagles have started a season 0-2. Fortunately, Southern enters a BYE this upcoming week, which hopefully will allow them to re-haul, revamp and rest up before they travel to Bloomington to face Indiana.
REST OF THE LEAGUE
As for the remaining games played in the ‘Belt in week two, they all wound concluded about how most pundits expected:
**The Trojans cruised past the Hornets 34-7 despite amassing over 100 yards in penalties and one turnover
**While the Mountaineers also had problems in the penalty and turnover department, they limited Savannah State to only 114 total yards in their 54-7 victory
**Despite hosting the 4th largest crowd in South Alabama football history, the Jaguars were completely decimated at the hands of the #11 ranked Oklahoma State, 44-7
**Texas State was only down by 14 at half before being crushed in the second half against Colorado, 37-3.
**A crazy offensive affair in Tulsa where both teams combined for nearly 1,300 yards, 108 points and 60 first downs, the Cajuns eventually wore down in their lost to the Golden Hurricane 66-42.
**Earlier last Wednesday it was announced Miami had cancelled its game against the Red Wolves in Jonesboro, but Florida State officials insisted they would still host ULM in Tallahassee on Saturday. But by 9:30 Thursday night, FSU big whigs ultimately made the decision to not play the game due to Irma’s continued course and devastating strength. And per Adam Hunsucker of the News Star, ULM will not receive the original $1.35 million dollars or the original buyout clause due to the cancellation. As for the Miami/Astate situation, it’s been a little bit murky as Miami AD has gone on record to say he’s still willing to play the agreed upon game in Jonesboro, just didn’t know when exactly that would be.
WEEK THREE GAMES (RANKED FROM MOST TO LEAST INTRIGUING)
- Troy @ New Mexico State
- Coastal Carolina @ UAB
- Southern Miss @ ULM
- Appalachian State @ Texas State
- Idaho @ Western Michigan
- Louisiana-Lafayette @ Texas A&M
- UAPB @ Arkansas State
- Georgia State @ Penn State
- Alabama A&M @ South Alabama
**GEORGIA SOUTHERN ON BYE**