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Saturday morning, a friend sent a text message saying he hoped Arkansas State was getting a lot of money for playing Kansas State.

ASU trailed 7-0 after having a punt blocked on its first possession, leaving the Wildcats just 19 yards from the lead.

No one could have known at the time that ASU was better than Kansas State, and a Fun Belt kind of day had just kicked off.

The Red Wolves overcame a couple of turnovers and the blocked punt for a 35-31 victory.

They dominated the statistics and were clearly the better team and controlled the line of scrimmage.

Yet, that was just the start.

Louisiana-Lafayette and its powerful ground game beat No. 23 Iowa State 31-14. Iowa State led 14-7 in the second quarter, then got shut out.

The late show, a 9 p.m. kickoff, was Coastal Carolina beating Kansas 38-23. The Chanticleers led 28-3 at the half.

Granted, not many schools would have hired Les Miles after he was fired four games into the 2016 season at LSU.

Miles, a sometimes likable guy, was 114-34 in his 11 1/3 years, but of his 28 SEC losses, eight had come in his last 18 conference games.

Most of the country saw him as a guy who munched on grass during a game, couldn't keep his hat on straight and said lots of odd things.

Such as:

"When I wake up in the morning and I turn film on, it's like reading a book and it's exciting. I don't read books, but if I read books, it would be like reading a book."


"Good afternoon. I just wanted to remind everybody that it's Columbus Day. All those of you that know Italians, like Italians, or the people that might venture onto a ship and travel to explore and find new lands, this is your day.

"It's not St. Patty's Day; that's a different day entirely."

Yet, the Kansas AD started making plans to hire Miles before firing his previous coach, and ended up being sued for breach of contract.

The AD tried to hire Miles when he was at the University of Arkansas, or so he thought. Turned out Miles was yanking his chain to get a raise at LSU.

Anyway, Kansas went 3-9 last season and got its lone Big 12 win over Texas Tech, then finished the season being outscored 171-60.

One of last season's losses was to the Chanticleers 12-7, so it doesn't appear the program is headed in the right direction.

Still, the story of the day was the Red Wolves.

They kicked off at 11 a.m. on Fox and made an incredible showing.

With nine starters and a total of 13 players who had played in the opener against a good Memphis team out of the game, the Red Wolves still played like they always do for Blake Anderson -- with all their heart and soul.

In the last 13 months, Anderson has lost his wife to cancer and his father to emphysema, but he has never complained and continued to put his team first.

He is 48-31 at ASU, but he is 36-12 in Sun Belt play, winning the league twice. He's led the Red Wolves to six consecutive bowl games, extending the program's streak to nine.

My friend texted again after the game and asked how the Red Wolves would be able to keep their coach.

This is Anderson's seventh season in Jonesboro, where Athletic Director Terry Mohajir gave him his first chance to be a head coach.

His name has come up a few times for other jobs, but the deeply religious Anderson doesn't actively pursue them.

For now at least, he seems at home in a community that has supported him through the toughest year of his life.

And he wins.

Before Saturday, the Sun Belt was 6-70 against Big 12 teams. Today, it is 9-70.

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