ULM vs. Auburn: Warhawks Emerge as One of College Football's Biggest Surprises

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IISeptember 15, 2012

Sep 15, 2012; Auburn, AL, USA; Louisiana Monroe Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning (15) drops back to pass against the Auburn Tigers in the first half at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: John Reed-US PRESSWIRE

Despite falling to the Auburn Tigers in overtime Saturday afternoon, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks have emerged as one of the biggest surprises in college football.

Another Louisiana-Monroe Southeastern Conference matchup on the road led to another overtime photo finish.

Led by quarterback Kolton Browning and former Army coach Todd Berry, the Sun Belt Conference unknowns have pushed two consecutive SEC teams to the brink in overtime, knocking off one en route to a 1-1 start.

But wait a second. Aren’t these early season games against the Sun Belt Conference supposed to be “rehearsals” for the better SEC teams?

Is it that the dominant SEC is beginning to fall off? With LSU, Alabama and Georgia all in the top 10, that isn’t the case.

It could be that the ULM Warhawks are the real deal.

It’s too bad this is the end of their competition against the SEC in 2012. Browning may have put himself into Heisman contention if he continued to have the exposure he’s garnered over the past two weeks.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself there.

However, how unrealistic is it that a seemingly unknown quarterback could emerge from the abyss to change the national viewpoint of himself and his team?

After posting average results in his freshman and sophomore seasons, Browning was not on any prominent award watch list this offseason.

However, after his stunning performance in leading his team to an upset over the No. 8-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks, he was recognized as the Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week. The Davey O’Brien award is given to the best quarterback at the end of the college football season.

Without the notoriety gained from these two games and the come-from-behind heroics of these Warhawks, you may not have given Browning or his team a second thought this season.

No one, anywhere, predicted this kind of incredible start for these Warhawks.

If they can continue to play at a high level, you may hear their names again during this year’s bowl season.

Through two games, Browning and the Warhawks have already beaten expectations and been the biggest surprise in college football.

Now it’s time to meet those expectations with a dominant run through the Sun Belt.


Mike Hoag is a Trends and Traffic writer for Bleacher Report and also covers the Cleveland Browns and the NFL for the site.