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2002 Sun Belt Conference Preview
Official Sun Belt Website
Southern College Sports

TEAM SCHEDULES
ARKANSAS STATE
IDAHO
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE
August 24
at VATech
August 31
SJ St (*)
September 7
Tulsa
September 14
at Illinois
September 21
at LA-Mon
September 28
TN-Martin
October 5
Mid TN
October 12
at Miss
October 19
N Texas
October 26
NM St
November 2
S Utah
November 9
at LA-Laf
November 16
at Idaho
August 31
at Boise St
September 7
at Wash St
September 14
at Oregon
September 21
SD State
September 28
at Wash
October 5
Montana
October 12
at LA-Mon
October 26
Mid TN
November 2
at LA-Laf
November 9
at N Texas
November 16
Ark St
November 23
NM State
August 31
at TxA&M
September 7
Minn
September 14
at Hou
September 21
UAB
October 5
at LSU
October 12
at NM St
October 19
at Mid TN
October 26
N Texas
November 2
Idaho
November 9
Ark State
November 16
at Ark
November 23
at LA-Mon
















LOUISIANA-MONROE
MIDDLE TENNESSEE
NEW MEXICO STATE
August 31
at Miss
September 7
at Kan St
September 14
McNeeseSt
September 21
Ark St
October 5
at Tulane
October 12
Idaho
October 19
at NM St
October 26
Utah St
November 2
at N Texas
November 9
at Auburn
November 16
Mid TN
November 23
LA-Laf
August 31
at Alabama
September 7
at TN
September 21
at KY
September 28
SE MO St
October 5
at Ark St
October 12
at Vandy
October 19
LA-Laf
October 26
at Idaho
November 2
at NM St
November 16
LA-Mon
November 23
N Texas
November 30
Utah St
August 31
at SC
September 7
at Cal
September 21
NM
September 28
at Georgia
October 5
UTEP
October 12
LA-Laf
October 19
LA-Mon
October 26
at Ark St
November 2
Mid TN
November 9
at Utah St
November 16
at N Texas
November 23
at Idaho
















NORTH TEXAS
August 31
at Texas
September 7
Nicholls St
September 14
at Alabama
September 21
at TCU
September 28
at Arizona
October 5
S Florida
October 19
at Ark St
October 26
at LA-Laf
November 2
LA-Mon
November 9
Idaho
November 16
NM State
November 23
at Mid TN














(*) Little Rock


Sun Belt Must-See Games
August 31
Middle Tennessee at Alabama
September 7
Middle Tennessee at Tennessee
September 21
North Texas at TCU
September 21
Middle Tennessee at Kentucky
October 12
Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt
October 26
Middle Tennessee at Idaho
November 2
Middle Tennessee at New Mexico State
November 9
Idaho at North Texas
November 16
New Mexico State at North Texas
November 23
North Texas at Middle Tennessee
November 23
New Mexico State at Idaho


Rating the Sun Belt Schedules
North Texas
Louisiana-Lafayette
Middle Tennessee
Idaho
New Mexico State
Louisiana-Monroe
Arkansas State


Sun Belt Out-of-Conference Opponents
Arkansas State
at Virginia Tech, San Jose St, Tulsa, at Illinois, TN-Martin, at Mississippi, S Utah
Idaho
at Boise St, at Wash St, at Oregon, SD St, at Wash, Montana
LA-Lafayette
at Texas A&M, Minnesota, at Houston, UAB, at LSU, at Arkansas
LA-Monroe
at Mississippi, at Kansas St, McNeese St, Tulane, Utah St, at Auburn
Middle TN
at Alabama, at Tennessee, at Kentucky, SE MO St, at Vanderbilt, Utah St
New Mexico St
at South Carolina, at Cal, New Mexico, at Georgia, UTEP, at Utah St
North Texas
at Texas, Nicholls St, at Alabama, at TCU, at Arizona, S Florida


Sun Belt Coaching Changes
TeamOutIn
Arkansas State
Joe Hollis
Steve Roberts
LA-Lafayette
Jerry Baldwin
Rickey Bustle


Projected Sun Belt Standings
TeamOverallConference
Middle Tennessee
8-4
5-1
North Texas
6-6
4-2
Idaho
5-7
3-3
New Mexico State
5-7
3-3
LA-Monroe
3-9
2-4
Arkansas State
3-10
2-4
LA-Lafayette
2-10
2-4


Individual Team Coverage
ARKANSAS STATE
Probable Wins
TN-Martin
Probable Losses
VA Tech, Illinois, Middle TN, Mississippi, North TX, Idaho
Toss-Ups
SJ State, Tulsa, LA-Monroe, NM State, S Utah, LA-Lafayette
Returning Starters
Offense: 9…..Defense: 8
Projected Record
3-10 / 2-4
Official Site
www.ASUIndians.com

After a disappointing 2001 season when they went 2-9 overall, the ASU Indians have turned to a new coach. Steve Roberts will begin his first season as the replacement for Joe Hollis. The Indians return a total of seventeen starters, nine on offense and eight on defense. The non-conference schedule has three very tough games and three winnable games for ASU. With seven home games and a majority of their starters returning, it’s possible that ASU could contend for a winning season. I think, however, it will take at least a couple years for the coaching change to make a difference, and the Indians will struggle again in ’02.


IDAHO
Probable Wins
SD State, Montana, Arkansas St
Probable Losses
Washington St, Oregon, Washington, North TX
Toss-Ups
Boise St, LA-Monroe, Middle TN, LA-Lafayette, NM State
Returning Starters
Offense: 7…..Defense: 7
Projected Record
5-7 / 3-3
Official Site
www.UIAthletics.com

After several very successful seasons in a row, the Vandals took a couple steps back in 2001, going 1-10 overall, their only win coming in the Sun Belt. Seven starters each from the offense and defense return from the seventh place team in the Sun Belt just one season ago. The OOC schedule will be challening, but it does have a couple winnable games for UI. Half of the Vandals’ games are in Idaho though only five of them are on the UI campus. I expect the Vandals to pick the pace up again, but it will take a couple years to recover from last season’s disappointment.


LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE
Probable Wins
(none)
Probable Losses
Texas A&M, Minnesota, UAB, LSU, Middle TN
Toss-Ups
Houston, NM State, North TX, Idaho, LA-Monroe, Arkansas St
Returning Starters
Offense: 10…..Defense: 6
Projected Record
2-10 / 2-4
Official Site
RaginCajuns.com

The Ragin Cajuns once again had a sub-.500 season in 2001 but will now try to get things turned around with a new head coach. Rickey Bustle will take over for Jerry Baldwin in 2002. ULL returns ten offensive and six defensive starters from last year’s team that went 3-8 overall and finished tied for fourth in the conference. Although there are only five games on the ULL campus, seven of the twelve games on the Ragin Cajuns’ slate are in the state of Louisiana. ULL has a chance to be much improved, but I don’t think this is their year to challenge for the Sun Belt title.


LOUISIANA-MONROE
Probable Wins
McNeese St
Probable Losses
Mississippi, Kansas St, Tulane, Utah St, North TX, Auburn, Middle TN
Toss-Ups
Arkansas St, Idaho, NM State, LA-Lafayette
Returning Starters
Offense: 9…..Defense: 10
Projected Record
3-9 / 2-4
Official Site
ULMAthletics.com

Like their in-state rival, ULM struggled in the 2001 season but have many starters returning for the ’02 campaign. Half of the Indians’ games are on campus, and the non-conference schedule provides a couple chances for wins. Nine offensive and ten defensive starters return from the 2001 team that tied for fourth in the Sun Belt. With so many starters returning, ULM has a chance to put things together and make a run at a .500 record. I don’t think, though, that the Indians will do much better, if any, than last season’s 2-9 record.


MIDDLE TENNESSEE
Probable Wins
SE MO St, Arkansas St, LA-Lafayette, LA-Monroe
Probable Losses
Alabama, Tennessee
Toss-Ups
Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Idaho, NM State, North TX, Utah St
Returning Starters
Offense: 8…..Defense: 6
Projected Record
8-4 / 5-1
Official Site
GoBlueRaiders.com

The Blue Raiders had a very successful 2001 campaign but fell just short of receiving a berth to the New Orleans Bowl. MTSU is set to change that in 2002 though with 14 starters from last year’s team returning along with both kickers. The Blue Raiders went 8-3 overall but lost the conference tiebreaker with North Texas last season. The non-conference slate has challenging but winnable games for MTSU, and the conference schedule is by no means overwhelming. The final three games are at home for the Blue Raiders which should give them some momentum heading into the postseason and a bowl berth.


NEW MEXICO STATE
Probable Wins
LA-Lafayette, LA-Monroe
Probable Losses
SCarolina, California, UGA, North TX
Toss-Ups
NM, UTEP, Arkansas St, Middle TN, Utah St, Idaho
Returning Starters
Offense: 5…..Defense: 4
Projected Record
5-7 / 3-3
Official Site
NMStateSports.com

New Mexico State was two games over .500 in the Sun Belt last season but finished sub-.500 overall at 5-7. Only nine starters, five on offense and four on defense, return from the 2001 squad that finished third in the Sun Belt. The OOC schedule provides the Aggies with a couple chances for wins, but only five of NMSU’s twelve games are at home. I expect the Aggies to have a very similar year to 2001 this season and be around the .500 mark in both the conference and overall records.


NORTH TEXAS
Probable Wins
Nicholls St, LA-Monroe, Idaho, NM State
Probable Losses
TX, Alabama, TCU, Arizona
Toss-Ups
S Florida, Arkansas St, LA-Lafayette, Middle TN
Returning Starters
Offense: 10…..Defense: 10
Projected Record
6-6 / 4-2
Official Site
www.unt.edu/meangreen

After a trip to the first ever New Orleans Bowl, the Mean Green are looking for a return trip in ’02. Ten starters on each side of the ball return after last season’s first place finish in the Sun Belt. This year, North Texas has only five games on campus, but seven of the team’s twelve games are in the state of Texas. With so many starters returning, I expect the Mean Green to have another successful season in 2002, but I don’t think it will be enough to catch Middle Tennessee. I look for about the same record in both the conference and overall as last season, but this time the Mean Green will come up a little short of MTSU.



Sun Belt Projections by Jonathan.
Southern College Sports
Sun Belt
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Individual Team Coverage…
  Arkansas State
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  New Mexico State
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