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November 25, 2008

Week 14 Sun Belt Power Poll

Week 13 in the Sun Belt made some things clearer ... and some things cloudier. Troy has guaranteed itself at least a share of the Sun Belt Championship, while five other teams still have a chance to be bowl eligible. The race is coming down to the wire, but in the end there could be two or maybe as many as three teams celebrating during December while the rest of the Sun Belt will be getting geared up for next season.

That being said, here's the Week 14 Power Poll:

Week 14 Sun Belt schedule: Middle Tennessee at UL-Lafayette (Dec. 3rd)*, Arkansas State at North Texas*, Florida International at Florida Atlantic*


1] Troy (7-4, 5-1 SBC)
The skinny: The Trojans control their own destiny. A win over Arkansas State sends them to New Orleans.

Next: Dec. 6th vs. Arkansas State. Troy is already assured a bowl berth, but can wrap up its first outright conference championship with a win over the Red Wolves.

2] Middle Tennessee (5-6, 3-3 SBC) 3 spots
The skinny: The Blue Raiders are finally putting all the pieces together and are playing really strong football after rattling off three wins in a row. Phillip Tanner picked a perfect time to have one of the best performances ever at Floyd Stadium. One more win and a little luck and Rick Stockstill's crew might be bowling for the second time in three years.

Next: Dec. 3rd at UL-Lafayette. This game could determine second place in the conference as well as which team will fill any secondary bowl openings that become available.

3] Arkansas State (5-5, 3-2 SBC) 3 spots
The skinny: The Red Wolves still have to win at least one more game in order to be bowl eligible. One of their last two is against North Texas though, so barring an act of God they'll be right in the thick of things going into their last game.

Next: Saturday at North Texas. ASU's shot at the UNT punching bag could not have come at a better time for the Red Wolves, but then again they have been bitten by the upset bug already this season.

4] Florida Atlantic (5-6, 3-3 SBC) 1 spot
The skinny: The Owls were playing as well as anyone until they stumbled at Arkansas State. Now they have to beat their nearby rivals just to be included in any bowl discussion, although it might take a small miracle to get FAU into a bowl game this year.

Next: Saturday vs. FIU. This backyard brawl could be the defining moment in both of these two teams' seasons, for two very different reasons.

5] Louisiana-Lafayette (5-6, 4-2 SBC) 3 spots
The skinny: The Ragin Cajuns are sliding hard and fast as their losing streak is now at three games. Of course, they will never win any game if Tyrell Fenroy gets only 23 yards, like he did against Troy.

Next: Dec. 3rd vs. Middle Tennessee. Both teams are going to come out and leave every single thing they have on the field hoping to be included in the bowl picture. It should be an incredible matchup.

6] Florida International (4-6, 3-3 SBC) 2 spots
The skinny: Things are not going completely south for the Golden Panthers just yet. They still have two games left, one against FAU and one against Western Kentucky, and they have at least a shot to win both.

Next: Saturday at FAU. This could be a really exciting after Thanksgiving match of two up and coming teams in an increasingly intense rivalry.

7] Louisiana-Monroe (4-8, 3-4 SBC)
The skinny: The Warhawks did a good job of ending the season on a high note. Something probably lost in their 4-8 record is that ULM was eight points away from a 7-5 season with a signature win over Arkansas in the second week of the season.

Next: Season over. The rumblings have been for a while that ULM needs a coaching change, but the toughest thing for the Warhawks to overcome this offseason will be the graduation of Kinsmon Lancaster.

8] North Texas (1-10, 0-6 SBC)
The skinny: Todd Dodge's group got a bit of their own medicine from the Blue Raiders. However, fans all over the Sun Belt (except Jonesboro, Ark.), will be cheering for North Texas to get its second win this season in its last game.

Next: Saturday vs. Arkansas State. An upset in this game is at the top of Dodge's Christmas list.

Current Sun Belt standings: Troy (5-1), ULL (4-2), ASU (3-2), FAU (3-3), FIU (3-3), MT (3-3), ULM (3-4), NT (0-6)

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