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Sun Belt Recap

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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A week one recap for the Sun Belt Conference.

Despite being just one week into the college football season, the Sun Belt Conference has already turned some heads. Like every other league, the Sun Belt has been in transition. As a new core settles, the conference has reason to be optimistic.

Georgia State kicked off the year back on Wednesday with a thrilling 38-37 triumph over Abilene Christian on ESPNU. A one-point win over a new FCS program is modest success, but, after going 0-12 last fall, the Panthers finally have some traction. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle, a junior college transfer, threw for 413 yards, four touchdowns and had many clutch plays down the stretch. 

On Thursday, Louisiana-Monroe defeated ACC member Wake Forest for the second consecutive year. The Warhawks scored 17 unanswered second half points, with NC State-transfer Pete Thomas scoring the game-winner on a nine-yard quarterback run. Mitch Lane had a key interception return for a touchdown for ULM, who wore camouflage uniforms.

"We’ll take the victory. It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it. I think we’ll get better for it. I was proud at how the team responded in the second half, because there wasn’t a lot of positive in the first other than the defense playing well. We came back out in the second half," head coach Todd Berry explained. "We take pride in our conditioning. We came into the fourth quarter and put on more steam. We were very resilient and determined at the point in time.”

Newcomers Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and New Mexico State debuted, while Idaho had its first game with Florida suspended due to weather. The Mountaineers lost to Michigan 52-14 in a return trip from 2007, while the Aggies topped Cal Poly 28-10. With coach Willie Fritz stepping in for Jeff Monken, the Eagles took a 17-3 lead over North Carolina State into the halftime break. In a back-and-forth finish, Georgia Southern came up just short 24-23. To very nearly upset another major conference foe one game after winning at Florida shows the potential the Eagles have.

Arkansas State, Louisiana and Texas State all won easily on Saturday, combining for a margin of 145-16.

Star quarterback Terrance Broadway and the Ragin' Cajuns received some votes in the pre-season top 25 polls and should move up a spot or two in the new rankings.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports