SEPT. 1 at LSU
SEPT. 8 Texas Southern
SEPT. 15 at Kansas State
SEPT. 22 Troy
SEPT. 29 at Florida Atlantic
OCT. 6 at Houston
OCT. 16 La.-Lafayette
OCT. 27 at Middle Tennessee
NOV. 3 Arkansas State
NOV. 10 South Alabama
NOV. 17 at Louisiana-Monroe
NOV. 24 at W. Kentucky
The above is a stark reminder of our standing in college football. The Sun Belt, however better than the WAC, is still an afterthought. This program, being part of said afterthought, is forced to play only five homegames. That’s right.
(Just like in 2008 and a couple of times before that, too)
The good news is that the Apogee opener should be a thrashing of SWAC-member Texas Southern. Hopefully we will be able to erase the memory of the previous week’s beating that will undoubtedly be inflicted on us by the Tigers.
Then the real challenge begins. Kansas State should be some kind of formidable but within striking distance of an upset. Bill Snyder’s squad doesn’t have loads of talent, despite the wins they put up. Remember last season they eeked out wins against Eastern Kentucky and Kent State to being the season. The most threatening part of that program is Snyder’s ability to coach. They play hard and play smart but they are the most vulnerable of the bigger non-cons on our schedule. Also, last time we played them it was an awesome game.
The Troy, Florida Atlantic, Houston part of our schedule is key. Everyone knows we’ll get murdered in Louisiana, obliterate Texas Southern, and have an inkling of a chance against K-State.
Conference games are huge. Winning the damn Sun Belt isn’t as difficult as Todd Dodge made it seem. A halfway decent coach with some motivated talent can make a solid run. It happens every year. It probably should have happened with us and Lance Dunbar. The non-conference games are to win outside fans, the SBC games are to win the conference . . . and possibly get to a bowl game.
This is a perfect year to do just that. As good as Gus Malazhn will make Arkansas State, this is his most vulnerable season. He had a great class of guys, but he still needs to teach the season while navigating the uncertainties of being the head guy. We know he can call plays on offense but can he run a program?
We have a shot to get him while they are coping with growing pains. They are coming off a perfect SBC schedule, and a bowl appearance (lost to NIU). Maybe they think they are bad asses that don’t have to work very hard to win this league? Maybe? We just need a timely L or two from those guys and this thing will be wide open.
We finished 4-4 in a very transitional year. We have a quarterback and an identity, now. Losing Lance Dunbar is huge . . . but how much did we really have him last year? He was hurt or bottled up for a good portion of the campaign. Now, there is no pressure to feed him the ball. Mike Canales can whip up some cleverness and we should be solid.
Maybe that is just the spring talking. Optimism is filling me right now, guys. Am I crazy?
Other interesting news? We have Tuesday night game against ULL on one of the ESPNs.
Go Mean Green.