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Posts Tagged ‘Sun Belt’

How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Week 4

As an accompanying post to today’s re-ranking, here’s the entire F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average P.S.R. 1-124 ranking. It’s not entirely fair to include the Independent programs among the true conferences, seeing that there’s only four Independent teams, but it does give a slight slice-of-life taste of where that quartet stands in the big picture. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and number of teams in the top 25 in parentheses. Without further ado:

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    How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Week 3

    As an accompanying post to today’s re-ranking, here’s the entire F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average P.S.R. 1-124 ranking. It’s not entirely fair to include the Independent programs among the true conferences, seeing that there’s only four Independent teams, but it does give a slight slice-of-life taste of where that quartet stands in the big picture. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and number of teams in the top 25 in parentheses. Without further ado:

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      U.L.M. Shocks, Rewrites Arkansas’ Season

      Louisiana-Monroe owns the SEC. Not really. No, really: U.L.M. owns the SEC – with a slight caveat. The Warhawks are as good against the SEC as any non-B.C.S. conference program in the country, I should say. Last night, the Warhawks beat Arkansas, 34-31, in overtime, to notch the program’s second win against the nation’s premier conference since 2007. The victory joins that earlier win against Alabama in Nick Saban’s first year; the two wins sandwich seven losses, but that’s neither here nor there.

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        ‘Toppers Can Win, Even in (Lopsided) Defeat

        I love what Willie Taggart has achieved over two-plus years at Western Kentucky, but I don’t love it that much – you know, enough to pick Taggart and the Hilltoppers to give Alabama much of a challenge on Saturday afternoon. But could it happen? Could Western Kentucky come up and bite the Crimson Tide in the same way it roughhoused with Kentucky for 60 minutes last September, eventually losing, 14-3, but raising the question of whether or not the Wildcats were actually part of the SEC? There’s a chance, seeing that the Hilltoppers did hang with L.S.U. for a half last November.

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          How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Week 2

          As an accompanying post to today’s re-ranking, here’s the entire F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average P.S.R. 1-124 ranking. It’s not entirely fair to include the Independent programs among the true conferences, seeing that there’s only four independent teams, but it does give a slight slice-of-life taste of where that quartet stands in the big picture. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and number of teams in the top 25 in parentheses. Without further ado:

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            No. 50: Florida International

            Remember when you caught a fish this big? It wasn’t this big coming out of the water, of course; it was just a little guy, big enough for eating but not nearly large enough to put on a plaque and hang on the wall. But something happened on the way from the lake to the front door: the fish grew. It went from two pounds to five pounds. Five pounds to a dozen. A dozen pounds to the largest catfish ever seen in these here waters. It nearly took your arm off – no, it was so big you capsized, nearly drowned in the waters, had to fight and thrash for hours to wrestle the biggest fish in the history of the county into your arms and to shore. Exaggeration. Embellishment. Every story can be improved just a little bit. Except here: Florida International really was as downtrodden, forgotten, underfunded and woebegone as the stories made the program out to be when Mario Cristobal first walked through the front door in 2007. At F.I.U., no exaggeration is needed.

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              No. 63: Louisiana-Lafayette

              Louisiana-Lafayette is one of those programs: clinging to relevance by the thinnest of fingernails, the Ragin’ Cajuns hope to catch lightning in a bottle with each new coaching hire. Rickey Bustle wasn’t lightning in the bottle, more like a flimsy nightlight, but Mark Hudspeth — now this, perhaps more than any hire in recent F.B.S. memory, had an immediate, lightning-quick strike on the program’s fortunes. Among Hudspeth’s first-year feats? Nine wins, Louisiana’s most on the F.B.S. level and tied for the most in program history. Total points: 420. Never before had the Ragin’ Cajuns scored more than 397 points in a season. A bowl game, the program’s first. Six straight wins in September and October, which alone would have tied a program-high for wins in a season in any year from 1994-2010. Of course, such unforeseeable success comes with a price: If Hudspeth continues to win, how much longer can Louisiana hope to retain his services?

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                No. 69: Arkansas State

                At some point, it became clear to Gus Malzahn that the major doors weren’t opening. North Carolina seemed interested, but the Tar Heels eventually went with Larry Fedora, who established his B.C.S. conference credentials during Southern Mississippi’s run to a Conference USA title. Likewise with Arizona State: the Sun Devils, if they were ever interested at all, quickly moved onto other candidates. If this was a game of musical chairs, Malzahn grabbed a seat before the record skipped — and just so happened to inherit a team fresh off the finest season in program history. So Malzahn returns home, in a way, though Jonesboro is just about as far away as you can get from Springdale, where Malzahn made his name as a high school coach, while staying within Arkansas’ borders. It’s not North Carolina, it’s not Arizona State, it’s not a B.C.S. conference stop, but it’s home, and it’s a start.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.