Week 7: Sun Belt Previews, Predictions

    ULM (3-2) at Kentucky (4-1) Oct. 11, 12:00, SEC Network Here’s The Deal: Check out the SEC’s fun new team. No one is expecting Kentucky to win the SEC

    October 10, 2014

    ULM (3-2) at Kentucky (4-1) Oct. 11, 12:00, SEC Network 

    Here’s The Deal: Check out the SEC’s fun new team. No one is expecting Kentucky to win the SEC title, but after stunning South Carolina, it’s a bad call against Florida away from being 5-0 and one of the nation’s hottest teams. With a trip to LSU up next and Mississippi State to follow – the Wildcats could be the underdogs in every game the rest of the way – there’s no time to take a breather. This is a new era and, obviously, a new team, but UK has lost to ULM before. Okay, so it was 1994, and the Cats are 3-1 in the series, but all the fun of the first half of the year would be lost with an upset. 

    ULM already has a Power 5 win this year beating Wake Forest to start the season, but it was stomped by LSU and last week lost its conference opener to Arkansas State by 14. It’s back into Sun Belt life next week, but a second big win over a team from a top conference might be enough to get the Warhawks into a bowl if the they don’t win the conference title. 

    Why ULM Might Win: It’s possible to run on the Kentucky front seven. The Wildcats aren‘t getting gouged, and ULM has hit a wall over the last three weeks running the ball, but the potential is there to balance out the offense a wee bit. Veteran quarterback Pete Thomas isn’t going to be fazed by the big atmosphere or the aggressive UK defense. He might not have gotten the ball down the field against LSU, but he has just two picks on the season and he’s not making big mistakes. 

    Why Kentucky Might Win: Kentucky is way too efficient and way too strong right now. The ULM offense is sputtering and coughing, trying to find something that consistently works against the better teams, and it’s having a massive problem trying to keep the chains moving. One of UK’s keys has been rocking on third downs and keeping the big pass plays to a minimum. Thomas might be a strong, veteran quarterback, but the ULM starter isn’t generating enough big plays. He won’t this week. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Kentucky’s shifty running back, Jojo Kemp, got in a little work throughout the season, good for about eight carries a game as part of the rotation, but when the offense needed him against South Carolina, he came up big with 17 carries for 131 yards and three touchdowns, scoring on two short runs in the fourth quarter to tie the game up. He’s not built to be a workhorse, but he proved to be solid enough and dangerous enough to start getting the ball more. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Kentucky won’t slow down now. ULM isn’t going to embarrass itself, but it’s lack of offense is going to quickly become a big problem. 

    Prediction: Kentucky 38 … ULM 10 
    Line: Kentucky -20.5 o/u: 49 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Last Week Tonight – 1: Bad Judge … 2    

    Arkansas State (3-2) at Georgia State (1-4) Oct. 11, 2:00 

    Here’s The Deal: Georgia State is back in Atlanta for the first time in a month, looking to finally get over the hump. The Panthers have been in every game this season, even against Washington for a time, but they continue to come up short. They’re still looking for their first win over an FBS opponent since 2011. Arkansas State will arrive at the Georgia Dome with momentum. The Red Wolves are battled-tested and hot, having beaten Utah State and UL-Monroe the last two games. 
    What’s Going To Happen: The Red Wolves have a shifty quarterback, Fredi Knighten, a healthy Michael Gordon at running back and a defense that’s one of the better units in the Sun Belt Conference. It’ll be enough to keep Georgia State reeling for at least another week. Trent Miles has the Panthers moving in the right direction, but just not quickly enough, particularly on defense. 
    Prediction: Arkansas State 34 … Georgia State 23 
    Line: Arkansas State -10 o/u: 64 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1 

    New Mexico State (2-4) at Troy (0-5) Oct. 11, 2:00 

    Here’s The Deal: Troy will be playing its first game since head coach Larry Blakeney announced he’ll be retiring at the end of this year, his 24th at the school. The Trojans have struggled in recent seasons to recapture their old form under Blakeney, and have yet to win a game in 2014. New Mexico State is looking to dig out of a ditch of its own. The Aggies have dropped four straight since winning their first two, and squandering an early two-touchdown lead against Georgia Southern last Saturday could have a lingering effect this week. 
    What’s Going To Happen: Troy is well-rested and adequately motivated to deliver a win to its outgoing coach. After coming close to breaking through two weeks ago, the Trojans will exploit a flimsy Aggie defense allowing more than six yards per carry, springing Jordan Chunn to help complement the improved passing of rookie QB Brandon Silvers. 
    Prediction: Troy 30 … New Mexico State 24 
    Line: Troy -7.5 o/u: 61 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1 

    Liberty (3-3) at Appalachian State (1-4) Oct. 11, 3:30, ESPN3 

    Here’s The Deal: Debuting as an FBS member in 2014, Appalachian State is about to experience a more familiar opponent with a visit from Liberty of the Big South Conference. Turner Gill’s Flames have showed flashes of potential this season, including in last weekend’s double-overtime loss to ranked Richmond. The Mountaineers are still adjusting to life in a tougher league, losing all four games with fellow FBS members, including last week versus South Alabama, 47-21. 
    What’s Going To Happen: Appalachian State’s defensive woes could continue against a diverse Liberty attack spearheaded by QB Josh Woodrum and RB D.J. Abnar. But the Flames D is susceptible as well. The Mountaineers will pounce on the opportunity to unleash its own offensive personnel, namely backs Marcus Cox Terrence Upshaw. It won’t come without a struggle, but Appy State break back into the win column for the first time in over a month. 
    Prediction: Appalachian State 35 … Liberty 28 
    Line: No Line 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1 

    Idaho (0-5) at Georgia Southern (4-2) Oct. 11, 6:00, ESPN3 

    Here’s The Deal: As first-year members of the Sun Belt go, Georgia Southern is doing a far better job of adapting to new surroundings than Idaho so far in 2014. The Eagles have easily been the league’s biggest surprise, losing just two games to ACC opponents, NC State and Georgia Tech, by five combined points. They figure to remain atop the conference standings following a visit from the Vandals, which are getting closer to snapping a 12-game skid, but have yet to play a full 60 minutes for Paul Petrino. 
    What’s Going To Happen: The Vandals have yet to keep an opponent under 34 points in a game, a trend that’ll continue this Saturday in Statesboro. The Eagles don’t get much from the passing attack, but who needs it when RB Matt Breida and QB Kevin Ellison spearhead a ground game averaging 7.2 yards per carry and 373 yards a game. Georgia Southern will steamroll through Idaho for a fourth consecutive win. 
    Prediction: Georgia Southern 45 … Idaho 17 
    Line: Georgia Southern -22.5 o/u: 64.5 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 1.5 

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