The Sun Belt takes center stage for the second consecutive Tuesday, as Florida Atlantic (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) hosts Troy (2-2, 1-0) in a rematch of last season's finale that saw FAU win at Troy to earn the New Orleans Bowl bid. The Owls, thanks in large part to a tough non-conference schedule that sent them to Texas, Michigan State and Minnesota, ranks seventh in the Sun Belt in both scoring offense and turnover margin. But with senior QB Rusty Smith running the show, FAU is more than capable of putting up some big numbers.
But just like last week's 14-13 loss at Middle Tennessee, turnovers will tell the story for the Owls. Troy is in the middle of the pack in regards to turnover margin (5th), but they lead the Sun Belt in pass defense and already have picked off eight passes on the year. The Trojans have one of the best corners in the conference in Sherrod Martin, who's tied for the conference lead with three interceptions. Martin and FAU LB Frantz Joseph may be the best defensive players on display in this game that features two of the better defensive units in the Sun Belt.
As for the Trojan offense, keep an eye on QB Jamie Hampton and RB DuJuan Harris. Hampton is currently fourth in the conference in passing efficiency, while Harris ranks sixth in the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game. By the way, they're both sophomores so the Sun Belt will have to deal with them the next two years as well. And in wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan and Kennard Burton, head coach Larry Blakeney also has two of the top ten in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game.
Who wins this game? In a measure of revenge for the Owls winning on their home field to end the 2007 season, Troy picks up the win and deals FAU a serious blow in returning to the New Orleans Bowl.
- Vanderbilt named FWAA/Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week.
Thanks to their 14-13 home win over then-#13 Auburn, #13/14 Vanderbilt was named national team of the week. The win moved the Commodores to 5-0 (3-0 SEC) on the year, and they haven't started a season in such fashion since 1943. The 3-0 start to SEC play hasn't been accomplished since 1982, which is also the last time the program played in a bowl game.
- Bulletin board material for Saturday's LSU/Florida showdown.
The noon matinee between #1 Oklahoma and #5 Texas may get the most attention this week, and rightfully so. But right behind that game in the pecking order is #4 LSU visiting #11 Florida, and LSU defensive lineman Ricky-Jean Francois provided the second bit of motivation (the first being LSU winning last year 28-24 thanks to 6-for-6 on fourth down) for the Gators and their offensive line.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the senior defensive tackle stated that if the Tigers got a clean shot at reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow, they're "going to try our best to take him out of the game...I think every lineman wants to get a good hit on a Heisman Trophy winner." For a game in which line play will have a lot of say as to who wins the SEC battle, it'll be interesting to see if there are any extracurricular activities at the end of plays in Saturday.