<
>

Mean Green, Trojans should dominate

8/24/2004

ESPN.com analyst Jim Donnan predicts the Sun Belt conference champion, award winners and more:

And the winner is ...
North Texas

The Mean Green will be champs as usual, but with a different style. Instead of relying on the defense as in recent years, look for North Texas quarterback Scott Hall and running back Patrick Cobbs to lead their teammates to another berth in the New Orleans Bowl.

But I wouldn't be surprised ...
If Troy won
Don't be surprised if the new conference member makes some big waves in its first full season of Sun Belt play. Coach Larry Blakeney's squad has made a swift transition to Division I-A football and with a new stadium and facilities to lure recruits, watch out for Troy this year and beyond.

Most Valuable Player ...
Patrick Cobbs, RB, North Texas
Cobbs is a premier running back that any team in the country would love to have toting the mail. He led the nation with 1,680 yards last season and also scored 19 touchdowns.

Most Important Player ...
Adrian Awasom, DE, North Texas
The two-time all-conference selection will have to pick up the slack along the line after the graduation of two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year Brandon Kennedy, who was a force up front. Awasom is on the Lombardi Award watch list but has his work cut out for him.

Coach of the Year ...
Darrell Dickey, North Texas
Dickey has turned his mid-major into a powerhouse despite playing brutal non-conference schedules. Look for him to be hotly pursued by some larger schools after another Sun Belt championship.

Assistant You Should Know ...
Vic Koenning, defensive coordinator, Troy
A former head coach at Wyoming, Koenning has some tremendous athletes and very good schemes.

Player I'd pay to watch ...
Demarcus Ware, DE, Troy
Ware is a tremendous athlete who can both play the run and rush the passer, although he may not be as successful statistically this year because of all the double-team blocks he will face.

Toughest Place to play ...
Movie Gallery Stadium, Troy
This new, 30,000-seat beauty is in a class by itself in the Sun Belt. Rabid fans from the state of Alabama come out to support the Trojans and the new luxury boxes are first-class.

Game of the Year ...
New Mexico State at North Texas, Oct. 23
These two always duke it out and this year's game will be no different. Two great QBs in Scott Hall of North Texas and Buck Pierce of NMSU will lead their squads in a battle that may decide the league championship. The Mean Green does not play Troy this year so New Mexico State must win this one.

ESPN.com college football analyst Jim Donnan takes part in chats and makes observations on Saturdays as part of College GameDay Live.