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Sun Belt Conference report; Dasher's return marred by loss

TROY ROUTS MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Troy Middle Tennessee Football Sun Belt powers Troy and Middle Tennessee duked it out Tuesday night in Murfreesboro, Tenn. MTSU quarterback Dwight Dasher (left) started his first game, after serving a four-game suspension for accepting a loan. The fact that Dasher was playing seemed to matter little as Troy steamrolled  MTSU 43-13.

Troy QB Corey Robinson was 26 of 37 for 259 yards and three touchdown passes. WR Tebiarus Gill had two touchdown catches. RB DuJuan Harris had 80 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.

The game was a complete rout from the start with Troy taking a 21-0 lead with six-minutes to play in the second quarter. 

SUN BELT REPORT

1. Troy (3-2, 2-0 SBC)

With a convincing win over Middle Tennessee, the Trojans proved they are still the SBC's best-team. Troy played a solid all-around game, out-gaining (is this even a word?) MTSU in total yards 519-207, while limiting the Blue Raiders to a dismal 28 yards on the ground.The Trojans' defense has been a concern this season giving up a 143 points in five games. Troy's offense (179 total points) has done a nice job of keep the team competitive. With the exception of MTSU, all of Troy's games have been shootouts. The Trojans have wins over Bowling Green (30-27), Arkansas State (35-28) and MTSU, losses are to UAB (33-34) and Oklahoma State (41-38). A win against Oklahoma State would have been a signature win for the SBC, but the Trojans fell short late in the game. It seems highly likely that the Trojans will make easy work of their SBC schedule and if all goes well, win their fifth SBC title in six years. Troy will next play La.-Lafayette on Oct. 16. Troy plays FIU on Nov. 11.

2. Middle Tennessee (2-3, 1-1 SBC)

The Blue Raiders are looking to turn their season around with the return of Dasher to the line up. Dasher had a rough time in his first start against Troy. It should take Dasher at least another game to shake off the rust. The Blue Raiders have been competitive in games against Minnesota and Memphis losing both contests 24-17. Without Dasher, MTSU was left with a gaping hole at QB that has really hurt the team. Against Memphis, the Blue Raiders had three interceptions and a fumble which lead to all of Memphis' scores. In total, the Blue Raiders have thrown seven interceptions. Back up QB Logan Kilgore was effective against Minnesota, completing 13 of 18 pass for 172 yards and a score. The Blue Raiders were leading Minnesota 17-0, until the Gophers rallied. MTSU will next face Georgia Tech on Oct. 16.

3. Louisiana-Lafayette (2-2, 2-1 SBC)

The Ragin Cajuns, owners of possibility the most original nickname in college football, are 2-1 in SBC play. The Cajuns have wins over Arkansas State and at North Texas and a loss to MTSU. The Cajuns' offense has shown that it has the capability of scoring points in the teams two wins. Against Arkansas State, the Cajuns took a 17-0 lead before the Red Wolves scored. Defensively, the Canjuns have struggled in three of their four-first games, the Cajuns limited Arkansas State to 18 yards rushing but gave up over 400 yards passing. The Cajuns have been outscored 89-136.The Cajuns open the season with a 55-7 drubbing from a down Georgia team. The true test will be how well the Cajuns fair against Oklahoma State this weekend.

4. FIU (0-4, 0-0 SBC)

Even though the Golden Panthers have still not recorded a win, it was hard for me to rank them any lower than fourth at the moment.FIU has shown much improvement from last season and seems ready for a strong push in the SBC.FIU has struggled lately giving up a significant amount of yards on the ground.  This week might be the most important week for FIU in resent memory. The team badly needs a win to show that they can finish a game. A 0-5 start could prove costly.

TEAMS 5-9

I think it might be still a little early to judge how the rest of the SBC stacks up. This weekend, most SBC teams have conference games and the picture should start to get clearer. I could have easily thrown FIU into this mix of uncertain teams, but I think how close they have played some tough opponents counts for something. The SBC seems wide-open with even Troy and MTSU showing they have weaknesses.

North Texas (1-4, 1-1 SBC)

FAU (1-3, 0-1 SBC)

Arkansas State (1-4, 1-2 SBC)

 Louisiana-Monroe (1-3, 0-1 SBC)

Western Kentucky (0-4, 0-0 SBC)

The Hilltoppers started the season playing three of their first four games on the road. Western Kentucky's opening schedule has been one of the toughest in the SBC. Western Kentucky lost at Nebraska, at Kentucky, Indiana at home and at USF. The Hilltoppers have struggled to keep pace with their out of conference opponents. Western Kentucky features talented running back Bobby Rainey, who has a team-high five touchdowns. The Hilltoppers open conference play on Saturday at FIU.

Justin Azpiazu

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