Sun Belt Notes: Jags rebound to snap losing streaks

The Sports Xchange

September 09, 2013 at 1:11 am.

The efforts of South Alabama QB Ross Metheny helped the Jags to a big win over Tulane. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

South Alabama could have been the conference’s forgotten team last week after losing 22-21 at home to Southern Utah from the FCS, but the Jaguars responded in a big way against Tulane.

South Alabama won 41-39, snapping a seven-game losing streak and winning on the road for the first time since defeating UTSA in its 2011 season opener.

Quarterback Ross Metheny accounted for four touchdowns as the Jaguars built a three-touchdown lead before holding on late to win.

“It’s the biggest win we’ve ever had,” said South Alabama head coach Joey Jones. “Tulane is a much-improved team, and they have a good football program. They’re going to do well in Conference USA. For us to come on the road and win one like that is big for the South Alabama football program. (Head coach) Curtis Johnson, his staff and the players acted first class the entire game. My hat’s off to them. They are the kind of team you want to play against, because they play the game the right way.”

South Alabama players feel like momentum will come from this win.

“My job as a defensive player is just to get the ball back to the offense,” said safety Roman Buchanan. “We knew what the game plan was; we were prepared. We knew what they (Tulane) were coming to do. We knew who they were throwing the ball to, so it was just time to make a play and get the ball back to the offense. Last week was a terrible loss — it hurt. There was no way we could lose this game. We had to get one (win) under our belt. Now we just have to keep it rolling.”

Western Kentucky couldn’t keep its streak over the SEC going as the Hilltoppers lost 52-20 at Kentucky. WKU outgained Tennessee 389-381, but turned the ball over seven times.

In fact, Tennessee’s first 31 points came off five WKU turnovers.

“I don’t remember that many interceptions and that many turnovers back-to-back-to-back-to-back,” WKU head coach Bobby Petrino said. “It really dug us a hole, but I was encouraged by the way we drove the ball and moved it in the second quarter and I felt like we got back in the game.”


–Western Kentucky either has a lot of faith in QB Brandon Doughty or doesn’t have much behind him. Doughty threw five interceptions against a paltry Tennessee defense, but kept running him out there. If he does this in Sun Belt games, look for the Toppers to give freshman DeMarcus Smith a look.

–South Alabama is resilient. The Jaguars are probably better than we thought, too. Last year, Middle Tennessee lost its opener to FCS McNeese State, but rallied to win eight games. It’s doubtful that South Alabama will do that, but perhaps the Jaguars will challenge for a bowl bid.

–Georgia State is bad. Losing to Samford looked bad for the conference, but getting drilled by Chattanooga — predicted to finish in the middle of the pack in the Southern Conference — is pathetic. GSU may not win a game this year.

–Louisiana-Lafayette should have a pretty good offense when it gets to conference play, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have to shore things up in the secondary. Good quarterbacks will pick this team apart.

–Arkansas State may slide back into the middle of the pack after being the best in the Sun Belt the last two years. The biggest reason is the graduation of Ryan Aplin, who was one of the best quarterbacks to come through the Sun Belt.