What Teams Are In The Sun Belt Football Conference Sun Belt Conference

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Sun Belt Conference

The Sun Belt Conference is not the same conference as last year. Florida Atlantic and Florida International will move into the conference after playing the 2004 season in Division I-AA. New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State left to join the VAC. Regardless of how the conference is stacked, North Texas will be looking for its fifth straight conference title and an automatic bid to the New Orleans Bowl.

2005 Projected order of completion

1. NORTH TEXAS

With the best rushing attack in the conference, the Mean Green should repeat as conference champions. Two of the best players from the past two seasons are returning. Sophomore Jamario Thomas (180 yards per game) finished as the nation’s leading rusher. The 2003 rusher, Patrick Cobbs will once again compete for the title this year. The Mean Green will have these players lined up all over the field and we won’t see an exciting game every time they play.

2. MIDDLE TENNESSEE

With 18 returning starters (8 on offense, 10 on defense), the Blue Raiders will be in a tight race for the conference title. Junior quarterback Clint Marks leads the offense and with last season’s passing performance (2,749 yards and 70.4 completion percentage) leads the conference in that category. The other part of the offense will focus on junior Eugene Gross to lead the rushing attack. Defensive lineman Quinton Staton, a former offensive lineman, will set the pace for the defense.

3. LOUISIANA-LAFAIETTE

With the return of senior quarterback Bill Sampi Jerry Babb, the Ragin’ Cajuns are an automatic contender for the conference title. The junior quarterback not only has the necessary accuracy, but can also hurt opposing defenses with his running ability. Solid special teams and a strong defense will help the Ragin Cajuns settle for the title.

4. TROY

Troy will have to replace 23 seniors from the 2004 team. This includes six offensive unit starters. Linebackers Laverne Johnson and Bernard Davis, as well as defensive back Johnny Faulk will be the strength of this team’s success. DT McDowell will return at quarterback and try to lead the offense through a rebuilding era.

5. LOUISIANA-MONROE

2003 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Kevin Payne will return after sitting out 2004 with a broken arm. If it returns to its 2003 form, this could be another team in contention for the title. Quarterback Steve Giles is a dual threat, leading the team in passing (2,300) and rushing (587). An inexperienced defense will follow defensive lineman Brandon Guillory.

6. FLORIDA ATLANTIC

After last season’s 9-3 record and losing most of their starters, the Owls will have a rebuilding season. The secondary should be a strong point this year with Willie Hughley and Lawrence Gordon. BJ Manley will take over from former West Virginia backup Danny Embrick at quarterback.

7. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL

The Golden Panthers will have an effective offense with Josh Patrick starting at quarterback behind a stout offensive line. He’ll have sophomore Julian Reams to get back to work. Their defense was one of the worst in I-AA last season and they will need to step up to help the team avoid the Sun Belt basement.

8. STATE OF ARKANSAS

The strong point of this team is the young defense. Sophomore linebacker Josh Williams and defensive back Tyrell Johnson will each earn all-Sun Belt honors. The offense returns running back Antonio Warren (1,036 yards) and quarterback Nick Nole, but the rest of the unit is inexperienced

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