The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 10, 2013

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments Update–Monday, March 11, 2013

DANCE TICKETS PUNCHED

Florida Gulf Coast 24-10

Belmont 26-6

Harvard 19-9

Liberty 15-20

Creighton 27-7

 

Today’s Conference Tournaments in Action

Colonial Athletic—Championship Game

Metro Atlantic—Championship Game

Mid-American—Opening Round

Mideast Athletic—Opening Round (1st half)

Southern—Championship Game

Summit—Semifinal Round

Sun Belt—Championship Game

West Coast—Championship Game

 

Note: RPI Ranking is from Monday, March 4.  These will be updated Monday afternoon

 

America East Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Stony Brook

14-2

24-7

71

2

Vermont

11-5

21-10

128

3

Hartford

10-6

17-13

171

4

Albany

9-7

23-10

164

5

Maine

6-10

11-19

273

6

U M B C

5-11

8-23

312

7

N. Hampshire

5-11

9-20

293

8

Binghamton

1-15

3-27

338

 

Conference Tournament—Albany, NY  (Championship Game at Higher Seed)

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

1

2-Vermont  61  7-New Hampshire  42

 

 

2

6-U M B C  69  3-Hartford  62

 

 

3

1-Stony Brook  72  8-Binghamton  49

 

 

4

4-Albany  50  5-Maine  49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

5

2-Vermont  85  6-U M B C  72

 

 

6

4-Albany  61  1-Stony Brook  59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 –Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

7

4-Albany at 2-Vermont

11:30 AM

ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: www.americaeast.com

 

 

 

Colonial Athletic Association

 

Seed

Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Northeastern 14-4 19-11 160
2 Delaware 13-5 19-13 127
3 James Madison 11-7 18-14 207
4 George Mason 10-8 18-13 155
5 Drexel 9-9 13-18 205
6 William & Mary 7-11 13-17 265
7 Hofstra 4-14 7-25 321

 

Conference Tournament—Richmond, VA

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

1

4-George Mason  60  5-Drexel  54

 

 

2

2-Delaware  62  7-Hofstra  57

 

 

3

3-James Madison  72  6-William & Mary  67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

4

1-Northeastern  69 4-George Mason  67

 

 

5

3-James Madison  58  2-Delaware  57

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3-Finals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

6

1-Northeastern vs. 3-James Madison

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.caasports.com

 

Horizon League

 

Seed

Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Valparaiso 13-3 25-7 63
2 Detroit 12-4 20-12 58
3 Wright St. 10-6 21-11 166
4 Green Bay 10-6 18-15 167
5 Illinois-Chicago 7-9 17-15 164
6 Youngstown St. 7-9 17-15 190
7 Loyola (Chi) 5-11 15-16 218
8 Cleveland St. 5-11 14-18 196
9 Milwaukee 3-13 8-24 301

 

Conference Tournament—1st Round & Championship @ Higher Seed, Quarterfinals & Semifinals at Valparaiso

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 5

 

 

1

4-Green Bay  62  9-Milwaukee  46

 

 

2

5-Illinois-Chicago  82  8-Cleveland St.  59

 

 

3

6-Youngstown St.  62  7-Loyola (Chi)  60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

4

3-Wright St.  66  6-Youngstown St.  59

 

 

5

4-Green Bay  64  5-Illinois-Chicago  63

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

6

3-Wright St.  56  2-Detroit  54

 

 

7

1-Valparaiso  70  4-Green Bay  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

8

3-Wright St. vs. 1-Valparaiso

9:00 PM

ESPN

 

Online Site: http://www.horizonleague.org

 

M A A C

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Niagara 13-5 19-13 123
2 Rider 12-6 18-14 135
3 Loyola (MD) 12-6 21-11 98
4 Iona 11-7 19-13 117
5 Canisius 11-7 18-13 110
6 Manhattan 9-9 14-17 200
7 Fairfield 9-9 19-15 170
8 Marist 6-12 10-21 250
9 Siena 4-14 8-24 297
10 St. Peter’s 3-15 9-21 283

 

Conference Tournament—Springfield, MA

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

1

9-Siena   70  8-Marist  64

 

 

2

7-Fairfield  54  10-St. Peter’s  47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

3

1-Niagara  74  9-Siena  62

 

 

4

4-Iona  89  5-Canisius  85

 

 

5

7-Fairfield  43  2-Rider  42

 

 

6

6-Manhattan  55  3-Loyola (MD)  52

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

7

4-Iona  79  1-Niagara  73

 

 

8

6-Manhattan  60  7-Fairfield  42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

9

4-Iona vs. 6-Manhattan

9:00 PM

ESPN2

 

Online Site: http://www.maacsports.com

 

Mid-American Conference

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Akron

14-2

24-6

53

2

Ohio U

14-2

23-8

74

3

Western Michigan

10-6

19-11

132

4

Kent St.

9-7

19-12

145

5

Ball St.

8-8

15-14

225

6

Bowling Green

7-9

13-18

254

7

Eastern Michigan

7-9

14-17

235

8

Buffalo

7-9

12-19

231

9

Central Michigan

4-12

11-19

260

10

Northern Illinois

3-13

5-24

331

11

Miami (O)

3-13

8-21

269

 

Conference Tournament—Cleveland (1st round at higher seeds)

 

Game #

Day 1 – Opening Round

Time

TV

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

1

9-Central Michigan at 8-Buffalo

7:00 PM

Online

2

10-Northern Illinois at 7-Eastern Michigan

7:00 PM

Online

3

11-Miami (O) at 6-Bowling Green

7:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

4

5-Ball St. vs. Winner Game 1

6:30 PM

Online

5

Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

 

 

6

4-Kent St. vs. Winner Game 4

6:30 PM

Online

7

3-W. Michigan vs. Winner Game 5

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

8

1-Akron vs. Winner Game 6

6:30 PM

Online

9

2-Ohio vs. Winner Game 7

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

10

Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9

6:30 PM

ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: www.mac-sports.com

 

 

 

Mideast Athletic Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Norfolk St.

16-0

21-10

169

2

UNC-Central

15-1

22-8

151

3

Hampton

11-5

14-16

282

4

Savannah St.

11-5

18-13

155

5

Morgan St.

10-6

14-14

251

6

Delaware St.

8-8

13-17

276

7

North Carolina A&T

8-8

15-16

253

8

Bethune-Cookman

7-9

12-19

293

9

Coppin St.

5-11

8-23

309

10

Florida A&M

5-11

8-22

333

11

Howard

4-12

7-23

334

12

South Carolina St.

2-14

6-23

342

13

MD-Eastern Shore

2-14

2-25

345

 

Conference Tournament—Norfolk, VA

 

Game #

Day 1 – Opening Round (Day 1)

Time

TV

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

1

4-Savannah St. vs. 13-MD-Eastern Shore

6:30 PM

Online

2

5-Morgan St. vs. 12-South Carolina St.

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Opening Round (Day 2)

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

3

8-Bethune-Cookman vs. 9-Coppin St.

4:00 PM

Online

4

7-North Carolina A&T vs. 10-Florida A&M

6:30 PM

Online

5

6-Delaware St. vs. 11-Howard

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals (Day 1)

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

6

1-Norfolk St. vs. Winner Game 3

6:00 PM

Online

7

2-UNC-Central vs. Winner Game 4

8:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Quarterfinals (Day 2)

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

 

 

8

3-Hampton vs. Winner Game 5

6:00 PM

Online

9

Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

8:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

10

Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 9

6:00 PM

Online

11

Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

8:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 – Championship Game

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

12

Winner Game 19 vs. Winner Game 11

5:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.MEACsports.com

 

 

 

 

Northeast Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Robert Morris 14-4 24-10 114
2 Wagner 12-6 20-12 124
3 Long Island 12-6 20-13 195
4 Bryant 12-6 19-12 146
5 Mt. St. Mary‘s 11-7 19-13 156
6 Quinnipiac 11-7 15-17 191
7 Central Connecticut 9-9 13-18 197
8 St. Francis, NY 8-10 12-19 216

 

Conference Tournament—Games at Campus Sites.  Higher Seeds Host All Games.  Teams Will Be Re-Seeded After Quarterfinals

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

 

 

1

1-Robert Morris  75  8-St. Francis (NY)  57

 

 

2

2-Wagner  72  7-Central Connecticut  50

 

 

3

3-Long Island  91  6-Quinnipiac  83

 

 

4

5-Mt. St. Mary‘s  75  4-Bryant  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

5

5-Mt. St. Mary’s  69  1-Robert Morris  60

 

 

6

3-Long Island  94  2-Wagner  82

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Finals

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

7

5-Mt. St. Mary’s  at  3-Long Island

7:00 PM

ESPN2

 

Online Site: http://www.northeastconference.org

 

 

Patriot League

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Bucknell 12-2 27-5 52
2 Lafayette 10-4 19-14 173
3 Lehigh 10-4 21-9 105
4 Army 8-6 16-15 213
5 American 5-9 10-20 261
6 Colgate 5-9 11-21 255
7 Holy Cross 4-10 12-18 249
8 Navy 2-12 8-23 314

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

 

 

1

1-Bucknell  58  8-Navy  42

 

 

2

4-Army  65  5-American  44

 

 

3

2-Lafayette  77  7-Holy Cross  54

 

 

4

3-Lehigh  71  6-Colgate  64

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

 

Games at Higher Seed

 

 

5

1-Bucknell  78  4-Army  70

 

 

6

2-Lafayette  82  3-Lehigh  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Finals

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

 

Game at Higher Seed

 

 

7

2-Lafayette at 1-Bucknell

7:30 PM

CBSSN

 

Online Site: http://www.patriotleague.org

 

Southern Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Davidson 17-1 25-7 82
2 College of Charleston 14-4 24-9 147
3 Elon 13-5 21-11 176
4 Appalachian St. 10-8 15-16 270
5 Western Carolina 9-9 14-19 251
6 Samford 9-9 11-21 281
7 Chattanooga 8-10 13-19 276
8 Wofford 7-11 13-19 240
9 Georgia Southern 7-11 14-19 277
10 UNC-Greensboro 6-12 9-22 330
11 The Citadel 5-13 8-22 327
12 Furman 3-15 7-24 342

 

Conference Tournament: Asheville, NC

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

1

9-Georgia Southern  60  8-Wofford  44

 

 

2

12-Furman   55  5-Samford  51

 

 

3

10-UNC-Greensboro  87  7-Chattanooga  81

 

 

4

6-Western Carolina  76  11-The Citadel  61

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

5

1-Davidson  86  9-Georgia Southern  59

 

 

6

4-Appalachian St.  74  12-Furman  60

 

 

7

2-Elon  68  10-UNC-Greensboro  61

 

 

8

3-Coll. of Charleston  78  6-W. Carolina  70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

9

1-Davidson  65  4-Appalachian St.  62

 

 

10

3-College of Charleston   68  2-Elon  60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

11

1-Davidson vs. 3-College of Charleston

7:00 PM

ESPN2

 

Online Site: http://www.soconsports.com

 

Summit League

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 South Dakota St. 13-3 23-9 75
2 Western Illinois 13-3 22-7 126
3 North Dakota St. 12-4 23-8 81
4 Oakland 10-6 16-16 132
5 I P F W 7-9 16-16 264
6 Mo.-Kansas City 5-11 8-24 287
7 South Dakota 5-11 10-20 242
8 I U P U I 1-15 6-26 325

 

Conference Tournament—Sioux Falls, SD

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

1

1-South Dakota St.  66  8-I U P U I  49

 

 

2

2-Western Illinois  54  7-South Dakota  53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

3

5-I P F W  91  4-Oakland  72

 

 

4

3-North Dakota St.  69  6-UM-Kansas City  58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 –Semifinals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

5

1-S. Dakota St. vs. 5-I P F W

7:00 PM

FOXCS

6

2-Western Illinois vs. 3-North Dakota St.

9:30 PM

FOXCS

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

7

Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6

9:00 PM

ESPN2

 

Online Site: http://www.thesummitleague.org

 

Sun Belt Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Middle Tennessee 19-1 28-5 23
2 South Alabama 14-6 17-12 149
3 Arkansas St. 12-8 19-12 154
4 Florida Int’l 11-9 18-13 137
5 Arkansas-Little Rock 11-9 17-15 163
6 Western Kentucky 10-10 19-15 178
7 Florida Atlantic 9-11 14-18 209
8 Louisiana-Lafayette 8-12 13-20 229
9 North Texas 7-13 12-20 233
10 Troy 6-14 12-21 271
11 Louisiana-Monroe 3-17 4-23 299

 

Conference Tournament—Hot Springs, AR

Note: This Tournament Uses Two Courts— S=Summit Arena, C=Convention Center Court

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

1

6-Western Kentucky  74  11-UL-Monroe  60

 

 

2

8-UL-Lafayette  74  9-North Texas  55

 

 

3

10-Troy   81  7-Florida Atlantic  79 ot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

4

4-Florida Int’l  69  5-Ark.-Little Rock  54

 

 

5

1-Middle Tennessee  81  8-UL-Lafayette  66

 

 

6

6-Western Kentucky  62  3-S. Alabama  59

 

 

7

2-Arkansas St.  68  10-Troy  63 ot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

8

4-Florida Int’l  61  1-Middle Tennessee  57

 

 

9

6-Western Kentucky  58  2-Arkansas St.  56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

10

4-Florida Int’l vs. 6-Western Kentucky

7:00 PM  S

ESPN

 

Online Site: http://www.sunbeltsports.org

 

West Coast Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Gonzaga 16-0 30-2 10
2 St. Mary’s 14-2 27-5 41
3 B Y U 10-6 21-11 62
4 Santa Clara 9-7 21-11 90
5 San Francisco 7-9 14-16 152
6 San Diego 7-9 15-18 180
7 Pepperdine 4-12 12-18 204
8 Portland 4-12 11-21 219
9 Loyola Marymount 1-15 10-23 253

 

Conference Tournament: Las Vegas

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

 

 

1

9-Loyola Marymount  65  8-Portland  54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 7

 

 

2

9-Loyola Marymount  61  5-San Francisco  60

 

 

3

6-San Diego  62  7-Pepperdine  59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

4

9-Loyola Marymount   60  4-Santa Clara  58

 

 

5

6-San Diego  72  3-B Y U  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

6

1-Gonzaga  66  9-Loyola Marymount  48

 

 

7

2-St. Mary’s  69  6-San Diego  66 ot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Finals

 

 

8

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

 

1-Gonzaga vs. 2-St. Mary’s

8:00 PM

ESPN

 

Online Site: http://www.wccsports.com

 

 

As The Bubble Blows

A couple of regular season champions lost in conference tournaments yesterday.  Stony Brook lost in the American East tournament, and it’s off to the NIT for the Seawolves.  Charleston Southern fell to 20-loss Liberty and will be NIT-bound.  In the MAAC, top-seeded Niagara fell to four-seed Iona, and the Purple Eagles have no shot as an at-large invitation.  Middle Tennessee dominated the Sun Belt Conference during the regular season for the consecutive year, and for the second consecutive year, they fell in the tournament, this time to Florida International.  The Blue Raiders hold a faint chance of earning an at-large bid.

 

 

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December 26, 2010

PiRate Ratings College Football Bowl Preview, Part Two

We are posting three bowl previews this year; this is the second preview.  We will give you the current odds for each game, the PiRate, Mean, and Bias spreads for each game, and the results of our 100 computer simulations for each game.

 

Today, we cover the bowls from Boxing Day through New Year’s Day.  Next week, we will preview the bowls from January 2 to the Championship Game. 

 

Sunday, December 26

Little Caesar’s Bowl

Detroit, MI

8:30 PM EST on ESPN

Toledo (8-4)  vs. Florida Internationl (6-6)

Vegas: Toledo by 1

Totals: 57

PiRate: Toledo by 3.3

Mean: Toledo by 2.8

Bias: Toledo by 16.8

100 Sims: Toledo 67  Florida International 33

Avg. Sim Score: Toledo 33.6  Florida International 25.7

Outlier A: Toledo 49  Florida International 19

Outlier B: Florida International 37  Toledo 24

 

Monday, December 27

Independence Bowl

Shreveport, LA

5:00 PM EST on ESPN

Air Force (8-4)  vs.  Georgia Tech (6-6)

Vegas: Air Force by 2 ½  

Totals: 56

PiRate: Georgia Tech by 1.7

Mean: Air Force by 5.2

Bias: Air Force by 5.9

100 Sims: Air Force 55  Georgia Tech 45

Avg. Sim Score: Air Force 29.2  Georgia Tech 26.9

Outlier A: Air Force 41  Georgia Tech 23

Outlier B: Georgia Tech 34  A Force 23

 

Tuesday, December 28

Champs Sports Bowl

Orlando, FL

6:30 PM EST on ESPN

West Virginia (9-3)  vs. North Carolina State (8-4)

Vegas: West Virginia by 2 ½

Totals: 49

PiRate: West Virginia by 6.8

Mean: West Virginia by 2.3

Bias: West Virginia by 3.0

100 Sims: West Virginia 53  North Carolina State 47 (6 games decided by OT)

Avg. Sim Score: West Virginia 25.8  North Carolina State 25.2

Outlier A: West Virginia 27  North Carolina State 10

Outlier B: North Carolina State 28  West Virginia 12

 

Insight Bowl

Tempe, AZ

10:00 PM EST

Missouri (10-2)  vs.  Iowa (7-5)

Vegas: Missouri by 2 ½

Totals: 46 ½

PiRate: Even

Mean: Missouri by 4.1

Bias: Missouri by 12.6

100 Sims: Missouri 58  Iowa 42

Avg. Sim Score: Missouri 25.6  Iowa 22.3

Outlier A: Missouri 31  Iowa 13

Outlier B: Iowa 21  Missouri 7

 

Wednesday, December 29

Military Bowl

Washington, D.C.

2:30 PM on EST

Maryland (8-4)  vs. East Carolina (6-6)

Vegas: Maryland by 7 ½

Totals: 68 ½

PiRate: Maryland by 18.4

Mean: Maryland by 11.2

Bias: Maryland by 13.8

100 Sims: East Carolina 51  Maryland 49

Avg. Sim Score: Maryland 34.4  East Carolina 34.1

Outlier A: East Carolina 47  Maryland 31

Outlier B: Maryland 42  East Carolina 20

 

Texas Bowl

Houston, TX

6:00 PM EST on ESPN

Baylor (7-5)  vs. Illinois (6-6)

Vegas: Baylor by 1

Totals: 62 ½

PiRate: Baylor by 2.4

Mean: Illinois by 1.6

Bias: Baylor by 6.9

100 Sims: Illinois 54  Baylor 46

Avg. Sim Score: Illinois 32.1  Baylor 28.6

Outlier A: Illinois 34  Baylor 17

Outlier B: Baylor 28  Illinois 18

 

Alamo Bowl

San Antonio, TX

9:15 PM EST on ESPN

Oklahoma State (10-2)  vs. Arizona (7-5)

Vegas: Oklahoma State by 5 ½

Totals: 66

PiRate: Oklahoma State by 1.1

Mean: Oklahoma State by 6.1

Bias: Oklahoma State by 9.6

100 Sims: Oklahoma State 61  Arizona 39

Avg. Sim Score: Oklahoma State 38.0  Arizona 29.1

Outlier A: Oklahoma State 51  Arizona 27

Outlier B: Arizona 34  Oklahoma State 28 (and one other 6-point spread)

 

Thursday, December 30

Armed Forces Bowl

Dallas, TX

12:00 Noon EST on ESPN

S M U (7-6)  vs. Army (6-6)

Vegas: S M U by 7

Totals: 52

PiRate: S M U by 7.7

Mean: S M U by 3.2

Bias: S M U by 10.6

100 Sims: S M U 64  Army 36

Avg. Sim Score: S M U 28.2  Army 20.6

Outlier A: S M U 34  Army 10

Outlier B: Army 24  S M U 16

 

Pinstripe Bowl

New York, NY

3:20 PM EST

Syracuse (7-5)  vs. Kansas State (7-5)

Vegas: Pick’em

Totals: 47 ½

PiRate: Syracuse by 1.5

Mean: Kansas State by 4.6

Bias: Syracuse by 2.3

100 Sims: Syracuse 53  Kansas State 47

Avg. Sim Score: Syracuse 20.1  Kansas State 18.6

Outlier A: Syracuse 24  Kansas State 7

Outlier B: Kansas State 17  Syracuse 3

 

Music City Bowl

Nashville, TN

6:30 PM EST

Tennessee (6-6)  vs. North Carolina (7-5)

Vegas: North Carolina by 1 ½  

Totals: 50 ½

PiRate: North Carolina by 6.8

Mean: North Carolina by 1.5

Bias: Tennessee by 6.6

100 Sims: Tennessee 50  North Carolina 50

Avg. Sim Score: Tennessee 24.5  North Carolina 23.9

Outlier A: Tennessee 30  North Carolina 14

Outlier B: North Carolina 27  Tennessee 12

 

Holiday Bowl

San Diego, CA

10:00 PM EST

Nebraska (10-3)  vs. Washington (6-6)

Vegas: Nebraska by 14

Totals: 52 ½

PiRate: Nebraska by 11.8

Mean: Nebraska by 11.5

Bias: Nebraska by 5.3

100 Sims: Nebraska 57  Washington 43

Avg. Sim Score: Nebraska 26.1  Washington 19.3

Outlier A: Nebraska 27  Washington 6

Outlier B: Washington 23  Nebraska 14

 

Friday, December 31

Meineke Car Care Bowl

Charlotte, NC

12:00 Noon EST

South Florida (7-5)  vs. Clemson (6-6)

Vegas: Clemson by 5 ½

Totals: 40 ½

PiRate: Clemson by 5.1

Mean: Clemson by 3.7

Bias: South Florida by 6.1

100 Sims: South Florida 58  Clemson 42

Avg. Sim Score: South Florida 25.1  Clemson 19.2

Outlier A: South Florida 31  Clemson 12

Outlier B: Clemson 28  South Florida 16

 

Sun Bowl

El Paso, TX

2:00 PM EST on CBS

Notre Dame (7-5)  vs. Miami (Fl) (7-5)

Vegas: Miami by 3

Totals: 47

PiRate: Miami by 6.3

Mean: Notre Dame by 1.2

Bias: Miami by 6.0

100 Sims: Notre Dame 52  Miami 48

Avg. Sim Score: Notre Dame 23.4  Miami 23.2

Outlier A: Notre Dame 30  Miami 14

Outlier B: Miami 35  Notre Dame 14

 

Liberty Bowl

Memphis, TN

3:30 PM EST on ESPN

Central Florida (10-3)  vs. Georgia (6-6)

Vegas: Georgia by 6 ½

Totals: 55 ½

PiRate: Georgia by 12.8

Mean: Georgia by 5.3

Bias: Georgia by 11.3

100 Sims: Georgia 72  Central Florida 28

Avg. Sim Score: Georgia 28.6  Central Florida 17.3

Outlier A: Georgia 38  Central Florida 10

Outlier B: Central Florida 24  Georgia 19

 

Chick-fil-A Bowl

Atlanta, GA

7:30 PM EST on ESPN

South Carolina (9-4)  vs. Florida State (9-4)

Vegas: South Carolina by 3

Totals: 55

PiRate: Florida State by 0.4

Mean: South Carolina by 0.5

Bias: Florida State by 1.6

100 Sims: Florida State 52  South Carolina 48

Avg. Sim Score: South Carolina 26.7  Florida State 26.6

Outlier A: Florida State 30  South Carolina 16

Outlier B: South Carolina 44  Florida State 17

 

Saturday, January 1

TicketCity Bowl

Dallas, TX

12:00 Noon EST on ESPN-U

Texas Tech (7-5)  vs. Northwestern (7-5)

Vegas: Texas Tech by 10

Totals: 60

PiRate: Texas Tech by 12.5

Mean: Texas Tech by 7.3

Bias: Texas Tech by 9.6

100 Sims: Texas Tech 86  Northwestern 14

Avg. Sim Score: Texas Tech 34.6  Northwestern 21.2

Outlier A: Texas Tech 45  Northwestern 17

Outlier B: Northwestern 30  Texas Tech 24 (3 other by 6)

 

Outback Bowl

Tampa, FL

1:00 PM EST on ABC

Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5)

Vegas: Florida by 7 ½  

Totals: 48

PiRate: Florida by 13.2

Mean: Florida by 5.1

Bias: Florida by 5.5

100 Sims: Florida 54  Penn State 46

Avg. Sim Score: Florida 22.6  Penn State 19.8

Outlier A: Florida 28  Penn State 13

Outlier B: Penn State 21  Florida 10

 

Capital One Bowl

Orlando, FL

1:00 PM EST on ESPN

Michigan State (11-1) vs.  Alabama (9-3)

Vegas: Alabama by 10

Totals: 52 ½

PiRate: Alabama by 15.5

Mean: Alabama by 10.4

Bias: Alabama by 3.2

100 Sims: Alabama 59  Michigan State 41

Avg. Sim Score: Alabama 27.6  Michigan State 24.7

Outlier A: Alabama 31  Michigan State 12

Outlier B: Michigan State 35  Alabama 25

 

Gator Bowl

Jacksonville, FL

1:30 PM EST on ESPN2

Mississippi State (8-4)  vs.  Michigan (7-5)

Vegas: Mississippi State by 5 ½

Totals: 61

PiRate: Mississippi State by 10.3

Mean: Mississippi State by 6.3

Bias: Mississippi State by 4.8

100 Sims: Mississippi State 52  Michigan 48

Avg. Sim Score: Mississippi State 33.7  Michigan 30.1

Outlier A: Mississippi State 38  Michigan 20

Outlier B: Michigan 36  Mississippi State 27

 

Rose Bowl

Pasadena, CA

5:00 PM EST on ESPN

T C U (12-0)  vs. Wisconsin (11-1)

Vegas: T C U by 3

Totals: 58 ½

PiRate: T C U by 7.9

Mean: T C U by 5.8

Bias: Wisconsin by 6.6

100 Sims: Wisconsin 54  T C U 46

Avg. Sim Score: Wisconsin 30.4  T C U 28.8

Outlier A: Wisconsin 40  T C U 24

Outlier B: T C U 34  Wisconsin 24

 

Fiesta Bowl

Glendale, AZ

8:30 PM EST

Oklahoma (11-2)  vs. Connecticut (8-4)

Vegas: Oklahoma by 16 1/2

Totals: 55

PiRate: Oklahoma by 19.7

Mean: Oklahoma by 16.2

Bias: Oklahoma by 20.7

100 Sims: Oklahoma 91  Connecticut 9

Avg. Sim Score: Oklahoma 35.3  Connecticut 14.8

Outlier A: Oklahoma 49  Connecticut 7

Outlier B: Connecticut 27  Oklahoma 23

August 10, 2010

2010 Sunbelt Conference Preview

2010 Sunbelt Conference Preview

Two teams have dominated this league since its inception as a football conference.  In the early years, North Texas repeatedly won conference championship after championship.  In recent years, Troy has dominated the league, while North Texas has fallen on rough times.

2010 could be a year of change.  Middle Tennessee has played second fiddle in this league for most of their existence as a Division 1-A (FBS) participant.  The Blue Raiders have been to two bowls as the conference runner-up.  With a load of talent returning from a 10-win season that included a bowl victory, Coach Rick Stockstill’s squad could be poised to become the new dominant team in the SBC.

As for Troy, this could be a small blip for the Trojans, as they face a major rebuilding season.  Troy graduated quarterback Levi Brown who threw for over 4,000 last year, and the Trojans lost six of their top seven tacklers.

Former conference power North Texas could be on the rise again.  With all-SBC running back Lance Dunbar returning (1,378 yards rushing), the top six pass catchers (includes Dunbar), and most of the two-deep in the offensive line, the Mean Green will post much better offensive numbers.  They scored 27 points per game last year, so that number could rise to 30+ this year.  A weak defense will prevent North Texas from winning the conference championship.

The Sunbelt is guaranteed two teams in bowl games once again this season.  With the two more teams getting bowl bids this year (addition of two bowls and elimination of one bowl), there is a chance a third team could receive an invitation, as other conferences fail to provide their allotted quota of teams to contracted bowl games.  Four teams could potentially reach seven or more wins this season, as the league appears to have great balance in the middle.  The fly in the ointment: except for Middle Tennessee, the rest of the league will all win zero or one of their non-conference games.

Note: The PiRate Ratings are not meant to be used to predict the outcome of future games.  They are usable only as a basis for the current week’s games.  We do not use these ratings to make our selections.  They are only a starting point.  The predictions given below, as for every college conference and NFL division, are not taken from the ratings themselves.

Predictions

Pos. Team Conf. Overall
1 Middle Tennessee 7-1 10-2
2 North Texas 6-2 7-5
3 Troy 5-3 6-6
4 Florida Atlantic 5-3 5-7
5 Louisiana 5-3 5-7
6 Arkansas State 3-5 3-9
7 Florida International 3-5 3-9
8 Western Kentucky 2-6 2-10
9 La.-Monroe 0-8 1-11

 

G M A C Bowl: Middle Tennessee

New Orleans Bowl: North Texas

 

The Sunbelt Conference gets priority for filling a vacant spot in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl if there is a third team with seven wins.

 

The Sunbelt is also a backup for the St. Petersburg Bowl and a second tier backup for the Papa John’s Bowl.

 

Team By Team Breakdown

 

Team Arkansas State Red Wolves
               
Head Coach Steve Roberts
               
Colors Scarlet and Black
               
City Jonesboro, AK
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 4-8
               
PiRate Rating 76.9
               
National Rank 116

 

Offense: The Red Wolves lost five of their six starting skill position players.  New quarterback Ryan Applin could top the production of last year’s starter Cory Leonard, but Leonard only threw for 1,416 yards and seven TDs.  Applin’s shoulder will be a concern early after undergoing surgery in the spring.

Tight end Kedric Murry is the lone returning skill starter.  He caught just seven passes a year ago, so the receiving corps will be noticeably weaker.  At running back, 2009 top rusher Reggie Arnold is gone, but Derek Lawson should equal or top Arnold’s production this year.

The strength of this team is its offensive line.  Rarely does a Sunbelt team return an experienced two-deep unit like this year’s ASU OL.  They will open holes for the backs and give Applin plenty of time.

Even with all the new skill position players, we see Arkansas State’s offense faring better in 2010 than in 2009 when they averaged 23 points and 329 yards per game.  Look for 25-28 points and 350 yards per game.

Defense: The Red Wolves have fielded respectable defenses for the last five seasons, but ASU’s defensive line has been decimated due to graduation.  Even though the top four tacklers return, two of those four are defensive backs.  Gone is all-SBC end Alex Carrington and his 14 ½ tackles behind the line of scrimmage. 

ASU also lost their two starting cornerbacks and their nickel back.  The Red Wolves gave up 219 yards per game through the air and 61% completions, and that number could be worse this season.

We see ASU yielding 27-32 points per game and 350-380 total yards per game.

Schedule: Games at Auburn, Indiana, and Navy are not winnable.  A  homecoming game with Louisville could determine whether ASU can top last year’s four win total.  They get the two weakest conference foes at home, so three wins is about what to expect.  You can expect a coaching change in Jonesboro if three is all there is.

Team Florida Atlantic Owls
               
Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger
               
Colors Red, White, and Blue
               
City Boca Raton, FL
               
2009 Record              
Conference 5-3
Overall 5-7
               
PiRate Rating 78.1
               
National Rank 111

 

Offense: FAU had an explosive offense that scored more than 27 points per game and gained more than 430 yards per game last year, but the Owls still finished with a losing season due to a weak defense.  This year, the offense will be noticeably weaker.  Only two full-time starters return on offense, and neither one is a quarterback or offensive lineman. 

Quarterback Jeff Van Camp started five games last year, and the Owls won three of those starts.  He averaged a very respectable 7.5 yards per attempt, but you can expect that number to fall this year.  With an entirely new offensive line and only one of the top six receivers from 2009 returning, FAU’s passing game will suffer, falling from 280 yards per game to as low as 180 this year.

The one bright spot on offense is the return of running back Alfred Morris.  Morris rushed for almost 1,400 yards and 11 scored last year, but those numbers will drop as well.

Look for FAU’s offense to ground to just 20-23 points per game and 300-330 total yards.

Defense: As much as the offense regresses this year, the defense could show signs of great progress this year.  The defensive line suffered some late losses in depth, but three starters (two juniors and a senior) return up front, including potential all-league end Kevin Cyrille.  Cyrille registered 11 ½ stops behind the line last year.

The back seven was as weak as the front four last year, but the good news is they can only improve.  FAU gave up 233 passing yards at a better than 67% completion rate for enemy quarterbacks.  The only reason the passing yardage number wasn’t 300+ per game is that the Owls gave up more than six yards per rushing attempt. 

We see the Owls giving up about 28 points and 400 yards per game this year, which unfortunately would be a vast improvement over last season.

Schedule: The Owls have just four home games this year, as well as a very tough out-of-conference slate.  FAU plays at UAB, Michigan State, South Florida, and Texas and should lose all four games.  They don’t face the league’s two best teams until after Thanksgiving, but those games will come back-to-back following the trip to face the Longhorns. 

Florida Atlantic could challenge for bowl eligibility, but they would have to pull off an upset at UAB and beat all six of the SBC teams they face before Thanksgiving.  We see them winning five of those first six league games, but that will lead to a repeat of last year’s 5-7 season.

Team Florida International Panthers
               
Head Coach Mario Cristobal
               
Colors Blue and Gold
               
City Miami, FL
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 3-9
               
PiRate Rating 78.2
               
National Rank 110

 

Offense: The Golden Panthers have improved in total yardage for four consecutive seasons, and this year should make it five in a row.  Former Mississippi State starting quarterback Wesley Carroll takes over behind center.  Carroll was Miss. State’s starting quarterback in 2007 when the Bulldogs went to a bowl.

Carroll has a full house of returning receiver talent, as the top eight pass catchers return, including breakaway threat Greg Ellingson and possession receiver T.Y. Hilton.

FIU has never been a rushing power, averaging just 100 yards per game the last five years.  Syracuse transfer Jeremiah Harden will team with Darriet Perry to form the best tandem the Panthers have had.

The offensive line has some rebuilding to do, but the drop off shouldn’t be much.

We see FIU scoring 25 points per game and gaining about 340 yards per game this year.

Defense: This has been FIU’s Achilles heel since the program was established in 2002.  The Golden Panthers yielded 35+ points and almost 500 yards per game in 2009, and those numbers will not improve by much if any this year.

Up front, the line was decimated by graduation losses.  FIU couldn’t stop the run last year, giving up 230+ rushing yards per game, and opponents could match or better that this year.

While most of the leading players in the back seven return, it is misleading to think having these top tacklers returning will lead to much better defensive production.  These players made a lot of tackles because they did not prevent many passes from being completed.  One player who did contribute in the pass defense was cornerback Anthony Gaitor.  Gaitor knocked away seven passes and picked off two others.

We look for marginal improvement on this side of the ball, about 30-32 points per game and 430-450 yards per game.

Schedule: This is a killer schedule, and it will prevent FIU from breaking through with a winning season.  FIU will start 0-4 after facing Rutgers, Texas A&M, Maryland, and Pittsburgh, the latter three on the road.  Home games with the two weakest teams give them a slim chance at breaking even in the league, but it looks more like a repeat of last year—three wins.

Team Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
               
Head Coach Rickey Bustle
               
Colors Vermillion and White
               
City Lafayette, LA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 6-6
               
PiRate Rating 82.6
               
National Rank 102

 

Offense: The Ragin’ Cajuns always seem to do just enough on offense to stay competitive in conference games without ever looking flashy or producing gaudy statistics.  Last year, ULL scored just 22.2 points per game, which paved the way for four of their six wins being by four points or less.

Quarterback Chris Masson won’t win any all-league honors, but he won’t hurt his team’s chances either.  He should pass for about 200-240 yards per game and complete close to 60% of his tosses.

Masson has a couple of quality receivers to pass to, namely tight end Ladarius Green and wide out Marlin Miller.  At 6-6, Green is an inviting target.  He could be playing for pay in 2012.

The Ragin’ Cajuns used to be a predominately running team, but they only averaged 137 yards per game last year.  2010 should see similar results.

The offensive line lost three starters to graduation, but the entire second five returns.  There should be little or no drop in production this year.

Louisiana should average about 23-26 points and 375-400 yards per game this year.

Defense: This is where great progress must be made if ULL is to contend for a bowl bid this year.  The last three years have been poor for the stop troops in Lafayette.  ULL has given up more than 30 points and 400 yards all three seasons.  Things are looking up in 2010.  The improvement may be subtle due to a schedule that has them playing two SEC opponents, but the Cajuns will be tougher on this side of the ball.

The front seven should see the bulk of the improvement, as opponents will find it harder to run the ball, and quarterbacks will see more pressure than they have the last three seasons.

Schedule: Yet another team that will more than likely lose all four non-conference games, Louisiana faces a tough slate of opponents.  It starts with a visit between the hedges to face Georgia.  A Friday night home game with Oklahoma State will give the Cajuns a chance to pull off a big upset.  Road games in consecutive weeks at Ohio U and Ole Miss should produce two rough losses.  ULL gets a week off prior to hosting Middle Tennessee, and this could be the upset of the year in the Sunbelt.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have enough talent to threaten in the league if 6-2 is good enough to win the conference.  We think they will fall short by just a bit.  5-3 will lead to a 5-7 mark overall unless ULL can upset Oklahoma State.

Team Louisiana Monroe Warhawks
               
Head Coach Todd Berry
               
Colors Red and Gold
               
City Monroe, LA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 5-3
Overall 6-6
               
PiRate Rating 74.8
               
National Rank 117

 

Offense: UL-Monroe fired former Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie and hired former Army coach Todd Berry.  Expect a drop from a typical Navy season to a typical Army season.  Don’t blame it on Berry; blame it on a loss of talent.

On the offensive side of the ball, ULM has enough talent to move the ball on the middle of the pack and weaker conference defenses.  It starts in the running game, where Frank Goodin returns to tote the pigskin.  Goodin rushed for 1,126 yards and 13 scores last year, while topping five yards per carry.

Quarterback Trey Revell returns after tossing for 1,739 yards and 12 touchdowns, but the four hands that caught 78 of his passes and nine of those scores are gone.  Throw in an inexperienced offensive line, and the passing game will suffer this year.

Look for about 175 rushing yards and 175 passing yards for 21-25 points per game.

Defense: Only four starters return on this side of the ball.  The Warhawks were a competent defensive team last year, but that is going to change.  Three of the four linebackers (actually ULM used a 3-3-5, but the Hawk back was more of a linebacker) from last year are gone, and two of the three starters in the trenches are gone as well.

The two returning defensive backs are among the best in the league, but they may be called on to stop more running plays this year.  Darius Prelow and Nate Brown combined for 18 passes batted away last year.

We look for ULM to give up 400+ total yards and 30-35 points per game this year.

Schedule: The Warhawks have a winnable game out of the league this year, as they host FCS rival Southeast Louisiana.  Who do they play in the other three games?  How about Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU, all on the road?  Because they must face Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, we do not see ULM winning a conference game this season.  1-11 looks possible.

Team Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
               
Head Coach Rick Stockstill
               
Colors Blue and Gray
               
City Murfreesboro, TN
               
2009 Record              
Conference 7-1
Overall 10-3
               
PiRate Rating 88.8
               
National Rank 90

 

Offense: The Blue Raiders appear to be the class of the league this year thanks to a dominant offense that could threaten 40 points per game this year.  Middle is coming off its first 10-win season and bowl victory since moving up to the big time.

Quarterback Dwight Dasher may be too small to become a legitimate NFL prospect, but he could be a star in the Canadian Football League.  Last year, the 5-10 speedster gained more than 1,150 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns, while passing for almost 2,800 yards and 23 more touchdowns!

Dasher has one of the league’s best set of receivers.  Garrett Andrews is a threat to go the distance on any catch.  Three newcomers could contribute immediately.

As if those riches weren’t enough, The Blue Raiders have two backs besides Dasher capable of rushing for 100+ yards in a game.  Phillip Tanner and D.D. Kyles could combine with Dasher to rush for 225-250 yards per game.

The offensive line returns four of five starters.  Expect the sacks allowed total to drop from 19 to as low as 10 this year.

MTSU is capable of topping 40 points and 500 yards per game this season, and we expect at least 35 points and 450 yards.

Defense: Middle Tennessee’s defense won’t get much credit, but if the Blue Raiders are to win their first SBC title this year, the defense will have to continue to shine in anonymity.  This side has yielded about 24 points and 350 yards per game the last two years, and they could be poised to kick it up a notch in 2010.

The defensive front seven is a small concern this season, and if the Blue Raiders fail to take the league title, and they aren’t torn apart by numerous injuries, it will be the lack of pass rush and coverage in the short zones that may do them in.

The secondary is the class of the league, and in a league known for its passing, that is important.  Rod Issac, Kevin Brown, and Jeremy Kellem teamed up to intercept seven passes and knock down 15 others.

Schedule: The Blue Raiders have the best non-conference schedule in the Sunbelt Conference.  An opening game at home on Thursday night against a beatable Minnesota team precedes a breather against former Ohio Valley Conference rival Austin Peay.  A visit to a weak Memphis team the week after could leave the Blue Raiders at 3-0 and poised to crack the Top 25.  The final non-league tilt comes in October against Georgia Tech.  MTSU hosts Troy on October 5, and the winner of that game should take the conference flag.  A September 25 visit to Lafayette to take on Louisiana could be a big trap game.  If they can win that game and knock off Troy, then the Yellow Jackets could be all that stops the Blue Raiders from running the table.

Team North Texas Mean Green
               
Head Coach Todd Dodge
               
Colors Green and White
               
City Denton, TX
               
2009 Record              
Conference 1-7
Overall 2-10
               
PiRate Rating 81.7
               
National Rank 105

 

Offense: The Mean Green scored 27 points per game last year, but they only won twice.  Expect both numbers to head north this season as this team returns a lot of talent.  Last year’s starting quarterback, Riley Dodge (son of the coach), returns.  However, he suffered a shoulder injury and has been moved to a wide out position.  Dodge is a true athlete, so it wouldn’t surprise us if he caught 50 passes this season and still see a few snaps at his old position.

Nathan Tune and Derek Thompson will vie for the starting quarterback job.  Tune saw considerable action last year, while Thompson was forced to burn a redshirt in the middle of the final game last year.  Neither can run the ball the way Dodge did, but both can hum the ball down the field.

Whoever is throwing the ball will have the conference’s elite group of receivers.  Besides Dodge, Oklahoma transfer Tyler Stradford joins the squad that returns its top six pass catchers from 2009.

Those receivers will find the going easier than normal because defenses will have to stop the running game first.  North Texas returns the league’s number two rusher in Lance Dunbar, who gained 1,378 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season.

Making this offense lethal this year is a very experienced and capable offensive line featuring tackle Esteban Santiago.

We believe North Texas will average better than 30 points and 425 yards per game this year, and they could top 200 yards rushing and passing in more than half their games.

Defense: Normally, when a team surrenders 36 points per game, it would be considered pathetic.  However, in Denton last year, this represented a 12-point improvement over the year before.  Expect another 12-point improvement this year.

The defensive line is in much better shape this year with three starters returning up front.  End Brandon Akpunku recorded six sacks and 5 ½ other tackles for loss.  The second four provide excellent depth here with three upperclassmen backing up the starters.

The second line of defense features a potential All-SBC linebacker in Craig Robertson.  Robertson led the Mean Green in tackles last season, but he will need to make more of those closer to the line of scrimmage this year if UNT expects to contend for the conference championship.

This should be the best secondary in Denton in years.  With a better pass rush, look for the back unit to defend more passes. 

We believe North Texas will chop another 8-12 points off their defensive yield and give up about 24-28 points and 375 yards per game.

Schedule: North Texas has a chance to win two or three of their non-conference games, but it isn’t a given.  A home game with Rice on September 11 and a visit to Army the following week will determine if the Mean Green will go to a bowl this season.  An opener at Clemson could be ugly.  The season finale is at home with a Kansas State squad that could need one win to become bowl-eligible.  Kansas State lost to Louisiana in Lafayette last year.

In the conference, North Texas hosts Troy and plays at Middle Tennessee in back-to-back weeks at the start of November.  We think they will split those games.  If they can win at Florida Atlantic, they have a chance to sneak through and win or share for the Sunbelt title as the surprise team.  Even if they fall short, we think the Mean Green will play a 13th game in December.

Team Troy Trojans
               
Head Coach Larry Blakeney
               
Colors Red and Gray
               
City Troy, AL
               
2009 Record              
Conference 8-0
Overall 9-4
               
PiRate Rating 86.9
               
National Rank 94

 

Offense: How do you replace the best quarterback in school history?  Levi Brown completed 64% of his passes for 4,254 yards last year.  New quarterback Jamie Hampton has six career starts under his belt, so he isn’t entirely raw.

Hampton has the league’s best returning trio of receivers.  Jerrel Jernigan, Tebarius Gill, and Chip Reeves teamed for 140 catches and 2,045 yards, with Jernigan accounting for better than half of that amount.

Troy used a running back by committee approach last year, but starter DuJuan Harris is capable of rushing for 1,000 yards if he returns to his 2008 form.

The offensive line returns three starters, and the two new starters are experienced upperclassmen. 

Troy averaged 34 points and 486 yards per game last year.  Expect a drop in those gaudy numbers, but the Trojans will still be a potent offensive machine.  28 points and 400 yards would still lead to a good season.

Defense: Welcome to troubles!  Troy was decimated by graduation losses on this side of the ball.  Six of the top seven tacklers are gone including three defensive linemen who are on NFL preseason rosters.

Four new DL starters will be in the trenches, and even though Coach Blakeney has recruited well, this quartet will not come close to matching last year’s numbers of 138 rushing yards allowed and 33 sacks.

Two linebackers have moved on, leaving Daniel Sheffield as the lone returnee in the front seven.  New middle linebacker Xavier Lamb should emerge as the leading tackler this year.

The last line of defense returns two starters, including the best pass defender in the league.  Cover corner Bryan Willis is a shutdown defender, but we don’t believe he will match last year’s total of 4 interceptions and 12 knockdowns.  Passers will have an extra half-second or more to locate open receivers on most plays.

Troy gave up 30 points and 425 yards per game last year, and those numbers will be worse this year.  Look for 35 points and 450 yards out of this rebuilding defense.

Schedule: Road games at South Carolina and Oklahoma State are sure losses.  A home game with Bowling Green is very winnable.  A trip to UAB on September 18 could determine whether Troy can get to seven victories and earn a bowl bid.  Middle Tennessee hosts Troy on Tuesday, October 5, in a nationally televised game.  We expect the Blue Raiders to exact revenge on the Trojans and end their reign of supremacy.  A road game at Florida Atlantic on December 4 could be a must-win game for bowl-eligibility and a possible third bid from the league. 

Team Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
               
Head Coach Willie Taggart
               
Colors Red and White
               
City Bowling Green, KY
               
2009 Record              
Conference 0-8
Overall 0-12
               
PiRate Rating 72.7
               
National Rank 118

 

Offense: Things are looking up for the Hilltoppers this year, but when you go 0-12, things can’t look much worse.  New coach Willie Taggart comes from Stanford, and he will install a pro-style offense using 1st team All-SBC running back Bobby Rainey the same way Toby Gerhart was used in Palo Alto.  Expect Rainey to get 300 rushing attempts this year, if WKU can stay in games and not have to resort to throwing the ball 85% of the time in the second half.  Rainey could easily lead the nation in rushing if he gets 300 attempts.

Sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes did a lot of running himself last year—running for his life after a helpless group of pass blockers played like matadors.  Jakes has the potential to be the third best passer in the league if he gets just average protection up front.

Unfortunately, Jakes has little in talent on the other end of his passes.  The seven returning receivers from last year all failed to average 10 yards per catch.  A lot of that had to do with Jakes having to throw quickly to avoid the rush, but yards after the catch is not where this group excels.

The aforementioned offensive line will make strides toward improvement, but don’t expect a major transformation.  If they can allow 10 fewer sacks, WKU will move the ball and eat the clock this year.

Western scored 20 points per game last year and 25 in league play.  Expect the ‘Toppers to approach 24-26 points and 350-375 yards this year.  The big plus will be a ball-controlled rushing game that is capable of reducing total plays per game by as much as 10

Defense: WKU surrendered 40 points and almost 480 yards per game last year, and even with nominal improvement on this side of the ball, we expect the offense to keep this unit on the sidelines for a couple minutes more per game this year.

Taggart will switch Western to a 4-3 defense this year, and the new DL should improve on the 245 rushing yards allowed.   All players who contributed significantly last year in the two-deep return this season.

The second line of defense welcomes back all three of its four top players, and the trio of returning starters should be much improved this year.  Thomas Majors could earn 1st team all-conference honors.

The back line of defense was the weakest in all of FBS football last year, giving up 67.8% completions and 28 touchdowns!  Three starters return, and this unit must improve some, but it will still be a major liability.

We expect WKU to chip off as much as a touchdown from the points allowed this year, but 33-35 points per game is still too much for the Hilltoppers to turn things around.

Schedule: WKU has guaranteed themselves an 0-4 start prior to getting a week off on October 2.  The Hilltoppers open at Nebraska, at Kentucky, home versus Indiana, and at South Florida.  They will be banged up and need that week off before starting conference play.  Their first two conference games come at FIU and home with ULM.  If they don’t win one of those two games, it could lead to a repeat 0-12 season.  We think they will win one of those games and maybe pick up another upset in the second half.  2-10 would be a beginning toward becoming competitive in the future.

Coming Tomorrow: The Mid-American Conference Preview.  Will the Owls fly high in the MAC sky?

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