A look around the Sun Belt

The Sun Belt took a step forward, as teams like Troy and Middle Tennesee scored impressive victories.

Originally Published: December 7, 2004
By Kevin Acee | Special to
All in all, 2004 has to be considered a step forward for the Sun Belt, even if North Texas again went undefeated and won its fourth conference title in the four years there has been a conference title.

But teams like Troy and Middle Tennesee scored victories over Marshall, Missouri and Akron. And Troy ended up in a bowl game, giving the Sun Belt two bowl teams when just three years ago the conference had to send a 5-6 North Texas team to a bowl.

MVP: Jamario Thomas, North Texas
The true freshman led the nation with 190 yards per game. He had five consecutive games with 200 or more rushing yards, the only person besides Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders to ever do that. Credit North Texas' offensive line and system, but without a guy to bust through the holes in place of the injured Patrick Cobbs, the Mean Green does not win its fourth consecutive Sun Belt crown.