The Sun Belt is the Fun Belt definitely after Week 2!! And the Sun Belt Conference seems to own the Power Five Big 12 Conference this year.
Three Sun Belt teams went on the road to Big 12 squads this past Saturday and all three will be coming home with victories. Louisiana, Arkansas State, and Coastal Carolina all picked up road wins.
The biggest was preseason Sun Belt West Division champion Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajuns defeated Top 25 ranked Iowa State 31-14. It was just the second ever Top 25 win for Louisiana and first on the road (defeated Texas A&M in Lafayette in 1996). Special teams play was what iginited the upset as Chris Smith’s 95-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and Eric Garror’s 83-yard punt return in the fourth helped secure the win.
Arkansas State, who lost at last year’s top G5 team in Memphis, used a late touchdown to get a win at 2019 bowl team in Kansas State, 35-31. WR Jonathan Adams Jr. caught a career-high three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 38 seconds remaining for the Red Wolves to secure its first Power Five win in 12 years.
And in the late night game, Coastal Carolina made it two years in a row over Kansas. The Chanticleers raced out to a 28-3 lead at the half and overcame a Kansas comeback in the second half to secure a 38-23 victory. QB Grayson McCall threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to lead the Coastal offense to the win.
First 2-0 Team
Army became the first FBS team to get its second victory with another impressive win at home. This time against another Sun Belt team in Louisiana-Monroe. The Black Knights were headed by Christian Anderson and Jakobi Buchanan, who both ran for two touchdowns apiece to spearhead the 37-7 win over the Warhawks.
Army also easily won its season opener over Middle Tennessee State 42-0 in Week 1 to become the first team to win two games this year.
Wildest Game of the Day
The wildest game of the day was the I-40 Rivalry game between UTSA and Texas State. K Hunter Duplessis booted a 29-yard field goal in the second overtime and RB Frank Harris accounted for four touchdowns to lead UTSA to a season opening win for them over the Bobcats, 51-48.
Texas State scratched starting QB Brady McBride earlier in the day due to COVID-19 protocol and was down 41-28 with 3:24 remaining after the Roadrunners’ S Rashad Wisdom scored on an 81-yard interception return.
Texas State started QB Tyler Vitt, who had missed the Week 1 loss to SMU due to COVID-19 protocol, rebounded from his pick-6 to Wisdom with a 20-yard TD pass to Marcell Barbee six plays later.
On the next series, Texas State forced a three-and-out from UTSA and Jeremiah Haydel scored on a 91-yard punt return, but K Alan Orona hooked the extra point attempt that eventually forced overtime tied at 41.
After the two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime period, Orona missed a 20-yard FG attempt in the first frame of the second extra period. That miss set-up UTSA only needing a FG to win the game and Duplessis’ kick did just that to win a wild one in San Marcos.
Narrow Victories for Tulane & Georgia Southern
In the first game at South Alabama’s new Hancock Whitney Stadium, Tulane did not allow for a party for the Jaguars. RB Cameron Carroll ran for two of Tulane’s four rushing touchdowns and the Green Wave scored the final 21 points to beat South Alabama 27-24.
Tulane had trailed 24-6 mid-way through the third quarter. The game winning score came from RB Amare Jones on a 16-yard plunge to give the Green Wave their first lead with just over three minutes left in the game.
The Tulane defense stopped the Jaguars three-and-out on the next possession and USA punted to Tulane and the Green Wave were able to get a couple of first downs to secure the win. USA did help though on that last possession. The Jaguars committed a 15-yard penalty on fourth down as it was set to retake possession with little more than a minute left and then never got the ball back.
Georgia Southern won its season opener despite having 17 players out with COVID 19, injured or suspension. The Eagles defeated FCS Campbell but narrowly 27-26 as Georgia Southern was able to stop a two-point attempt in the final seconds to escape with the win.
Campbell’s QB Hajj-Malik Williams threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to WR Jalen Kelsey to pull Campbell to within 27-26 with 15 seconds left, but Williams’ threw an incomplete pass over TE Julian Hill’s head as the Camels went for the win with the two-point attempt.
Eagle QB Shai Werts earlier gave Georgia Southern the lead with a 41-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter in what proved to be the game winner.
App State Rushing Game Keys Opening Win
The Appalachian State run game of it offense was possibly the biggest question mark for the team that was stacked with receivers and of course QB Zac Thomas.
If the 35-20 win over in-state foe Charlotte was an indication, the Mountaineers will be just fine with its running game in 2020 for the preseason favorites to repeat as Sun Belt champions.
RB Marcus Williams Jr. ran for 117 yards and a touchdown and fellow back Camerun Peoples added 102 yards and another touchdown. In total, the Mountaineers rushed for 308 yards. Zac Thomas added 204 yards passing with a touchdown through the air in leading App State to its season opening victory.
COVID 19 Postponements/Delays
This week, Louisiana Tech and Baylor, as well as SMU at TCU, were postponed due to outbreaks of COVID 19 on Baylor and TCU respectively.
And next week, we already know that Memphis will not be playing Houston due to the Tigers outbreak.
BYU at Army will not take place either due to outbreaks on the BYU squad. Tulsa at Oklahoma State will take place next week after previously scheduled for this Week 2.
This likely will be the norm for this season with 2-3 games per week being canceled or postponed unfortunately.
Top 5 Group of Five Games of the Week
Below are my top five Group of Five games of the week with highlights and a full recap of the game in the hyperlink.
1. UTSA 51 Texas State 48 (2OT) (San Marcos, Tex.)
2. Tulane 27 South Alabama 24 (Mobile, Ala.)
3. Arkansas State 35 Kansas State 31 (Manhattan, Kan.)
4. Louisiana 31 Iowa State 14 (Ames, Iowa)
5. Coastal Carolina 38 Kansas 23 (Lawrence, Kan.)
Georgia Southern 27 Campbell 26 (Statesboro, Ga.)
App State 35 Charlotte 20 (Boone, N.C.)
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football is the Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
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