Owls get needed break before they open Sun Belt play

Owls' coach Howard Schnellenberger met with his players Sunday and said he found a "very somber group."

That is be expected after they were trounced 37-3 by Minnesota the day before, and that followed a 17-0 loss to Michigan State.

"I don't think our team has gained anything from the last two losses," said Schnellenberger, who usually finds positives in even the worst defeats.

There is some good news, as the Owls have 10 days until their next game when they play Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro in an ESPN2 game.

MTSU (1-3) is already 0-2 in the Sun Belt, after losing to Arkansas State on Saturday.

Schnellenberger said he told his team they were 0-4 in non-conference games last season, so being 1-3 before conference play begins puts them ahead of where they were last year.

But he is not happy with the way the Owls played against its Big Ten opponents. "Certainly the last two games were not anything we could have envisioned," Schnellenberger said.

"Our team has to get a lot better in a hurry if we are going to have a chance against Middle Tennessee," Schnellenberger said.

The players know the critical stretch of their season is about to begin.

"Confidence level is going to be a little low. But we will go out and know what we are playing for, which is the conference championship. We are going to put this behind us. Our job is to repeat as Sun Belt champions, and that is what we are going to do," said wide receiver Cortez Gent.