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Trojan2003
05-16-2009, 04:45 PM
Watch the blows below the Belt

May 15, 2009 by Brandon Vogel

You've heard the cracks by now. Nebraska: honorary member--and possible champion?--of the Sun Belt in 2009. Yes, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette are all on the schedule but as far as humor goes it's a middle of the pack, mid-major effort.

In fact, far less than a joke, I'd say this slate has a good chance to play out as a good bit of scheduling for Nebraska.

But that's the thing about the Sun Belt, they're a battle tested conference. Getting your teeth kicked in by the bullies of college football--almost always on their block--three to four times a year tends to toughen you up a bit and teach you how to fight. Last year in week two Louisiana-Monroe had Arkansas down 24-6 before losing 28-27 on a touchdown with 1:22 to play, and Troy forced the Ohio State faithful to sweat out a 28-10 win at the Horseshoe in week three. The year before UL-M went ahead and beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa 21-14 and Troy waxed Oklahoma State 41-23 on a Friday night. The ratio of blowouts to close calls/wins is still drastically in the favor of the heavyweights, but at this point in the conference's history most major football programs know this: When you play the Sun Belt with less than your best effort, they have the talent to beat you.

Why? Geography. Take a look at the map of the conference. Texas? Check. Florida? Check. Louisiana? Check. You could argue that there isn't a non-BCS conference better situated to pick up the speedy chaff and athletic academic casualties left behind by the big recruiting machines than the Sun Belt. Throw a chip on every one of their shoulders when they play against the schools they dreamed of going to and overall you have a conference that likely gets a little less scared to play any team anywhere with each passing year. Nebraska is unnaturally exposed--thanks Steve!--to the giant slaying with three such games next season. Let's take a look:

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