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2010 Sun Belt Conference Football Preview
Can Troy Repeat as Champs?
2009 was the year of the Troy Trojans in the Sun Belt Conference once again. They finished a perfect 8-0 in conference play narrowly edging out Middle Tennessee State. The Sun Belt looks to be a two horse race again, but North Texas, Florida Atlantic, and Arkansas State are all solid teams this year.
The Sun Belt provides us with plenty of wagering opportunities. While the oddsmakers are generally tuned in to teams like Notre Dame and USC, they may not know as much as they should about teams like North Texas and Florida Atlantic. That's where we come in. Our Key Releases have been making our visitors a nice profit year after year. Best of all they are free! Make sure you don't miss this years plays. You can get them by signing up for our football newsletter.
Now let's take a close look at all the teams in the Sun Belt and their
chances for college football success in 2010.
Troy Trojans - With only 6 starters back on offense and 3 on defense the Trojans have some rebuilding to do. Luckily for them they have a solid group of reserves ready to step into starting positions. Jamie Hampton looks like the leading candidate for the starting QB job. The junior has been bulking up in the weight room and watching plenty of film. He was supposed to have the starting job last year, but was injured. Look for him to play admirably.
Dujuan Harris and Shawn Southward both return at RB. They combined for 1272 yards and 22 TDs in 2009. The WR corps look improved thanks to the return of Jerrel Jernigan and Tebiarus Gill. Josh Jarboe and Brett Moncrief are solid additions. The offensive line replaces both Gs, but looks good enough to protect QB Hampton and allow room for Harris and Southward to run.
The defensive line was once a bright spot for Troy, but they have lost 3 starters to the NFL. Despite that, it has the potential to be the best in the Sun Belt. The LB corps looked to have regressed as well. The DBs looked much improved thanks to the retention of Bryan Willis. The schedule looks manageable despite playing at South Carolina and Oklahoma State. Troy has plenty of hope for the three-peat even though they have lost many starters. Don't count the Trojans out.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders - This team returns 8 starters on offense and 6 on defense after going 10-3 overall and 7-1 in the Sun Belt last year. Last year they pulled off a win over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. They will open play in 2010 against Minnesota. The Blue Raiders must also travel to Georgia Tech later in the year. They host SBC rival Troy. The winner of that game will hold a strong hand when it comes to taking to honors in the conference.
QB Dwight Dasher was Player of the Week in the Sun Belt three times last year. He was also MVP of the New Orleans Bowl. The athletic QB ran for 1,391 yards and 13 TDs last year. He was able to pass for 2789 yards and 23 TDs. Needless to say, Dasher is a very versatile player and a potent weapon for the Middle Tennessee offense. He will be aided by RB Phillip Tanner who will put up big numbers for his senior year. The WR corps look stronger than they have been in a long time.
The defense looks weakened on the line, but both the LBs and DBs look better than ever. The DBs have the potential to be the best in the Sun Belt. The Blue Raiders are comparable to Troy in terms of talent and as previously stated their game at home on Tuesday against the Trojans will likely decide how their season goes. Middle Tennessee has the guns to win 10 games again in 2010.
North Texas Mean Green - After years of living as the punching bag of every school in college football it looks like the Mean Green can improve. They bring back 9 starters on offense and 8 on defense. QB Riley Dodge (son of HC Todd Dodge) has moved to WR due to shoulder problems. Derrick Thompson and Nathan Tune will battle it out for the starting job. RB Lance Dunbar picked up 1433 yards on the ground last year and 17 TDs. It will be hard to best those numbers, but he has the potential to be the best RB in the SBC. Look for the Mean Green to be Bowl Eligible for the first time since 2004.
Florida Atlantic Owls - Scoring points will be very tough with only 2 starters back on offense, but the Owls can improve on last year's mark of 5-7. 9 starters back on defense will aid in their pursuit of Sun Belt victories. The defensive line looks very strong with all but a single DT returning. The LB corps returns 5 of 6. MLB Micheal Lockley has a 42" vertical leap and only three players were better than him in that area at the NFL Combine. It's hard to picture the Owls winning the Sun Belt, but they have enough talent to play spoiler to Troy or Middle Tennessee.
Arkansas State Red Wolves - Playing seven road games this year isn't going to be kind to the morale of this team. They return 6 starters on offense and 5 on defense. Soph Ryan Aplin will take over at QB and he should improve on the numbers of last year's starter. The offensive line, LBs, and DBs all look like improved areas for the Red Wolves. HC Roberts is on the hot seat and he had this team bowl eligible the last team they returned 11 starters. We are taking a pessimistic view, but anything can happen for Arkansas State.
Louisiana's Rajun' Cajuns - 5 starters are back on offense and 8 return on defense for a team that won 6 games last year. QB Chris Masson will improve on his 2009 numbers of 2406 yards and 10 TDs. TE Ledarius Green looks like one of the best in the country at his position. He had over 500 receiving yards last year and he is a big kid at 6-6.The Rajun' Cajuns look improved, but may have a hard time matching last year's win total.
FIU Golden Panthers - After going 3-9 in 2009 the Golden Panthers have a wicked schedule. They begin the year playing Rutgers, Maryland, Texas A&M, and Pittsburgh. As if that's not bad enough, four of their first six Sun Belt games are on the road. FIU may have a better team this year, but that doesn't mean they will win more games.
ULM Warhawks - With only 10 starters back it seems ULM will be rebuilding after a 6-6 mark in 2009. They won a few close games last year, but with a new HC the players will have lots of learning to do. Don't expect too much out of this team.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers - After going 0-12 last year this team brings back 12 combined starters. They are MUCH improved, but that doesn't mean they will win many games. They might be able to escape the Sun Belt basement, but don't hope for much more.
To recap it looks like the Sun Belt is a two horse race between Troy and Middle Tennessee. The winner could come down to a Tuesday night game at Middle Tennessee for Troy. We think the Trojans will come through and pull off the three-peat in this conference.
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