Week 1

Sun Belt Week 1 Game Previews & Fearless Predictions


The Sun Belt has a few interesting national TV games with a chance to make a big splash among the Group of Five world. Check out the fearless predictions and game previews for all the Week 1 Sun Belt games.


Sun Belt Week 1 Game Previews & Predictions

Sun Belt Conference Games of the Week

Thursday, September 1
Appalachian State at Tennessee Game Preview & Fearless Prediction
7:30 PM, SEC Network, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN

Friday, September 2
Toledo at Arkansas State Game Preview & Fearless Prediction
9:00 PM, ESPNU, Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR

Saturday, September 3
Boise State at Louisiana-Lafayette Game Preview & Fearless Prediction
12:00 PM, American Sports Network, Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA

Thursday, September 1

Montana State at Idaho

9:00 PM, Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID

Montana State had one of the best offenses in the FCS last season – coming up with 42 points per game – but the defense didn’t have a prayer getting ripped apart time and again with anyone with a passing game.

Idaho has been building towards this year under head coach Paul Petrino, and it’s got just enough pop and firepower to keep up the pace in any sort of a shootout – and it’s going to be a big-time firefight.

The Vandals haven’t played defense in years, and they’re not going to start now against a Bobcat attack that’ll try to go on without now-Oregon starting quarterback Dakota Prukop. The offense will continue to look outstanding against the Idaho D, but the Vandals will come up with the finish they need with a late scoring drive to pull out a thriller.

Fearless Prediction: Idaho 45, Montana State 41
Line: No Line
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2.5

Friday, September 2

Ball State at Georgia State

7:00 PM, ACC Network, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Can new head coach Mike Neu turn Ball State into a MAC power again? The Cardinals were a massive disappointment throughout last year, and now they’ve got to find the offense to crank things up again with more of a passing game – and that’s what Neu is for.

Georgia State’s secondary won’t be anything great, but the rebuilding Panthers should be able to do a nice job with the passing game thanks to a potentially fantastic receiving corps that should come up with its share of big plays.

The Cardinal lines are a big problem, but Georgia State won’t be able to blast away with anything on the ground – is the Georgia State quarterback situation going to work?

It won’t be the Panther passing game of last year right away, but Penny Hart will be the star with at least seven catches for well over 100 yards. Ball State will keep up a bit, but the Panthers will do just enough through the air to survive in an entertaining shootout.

Fearless Prediction: Georgia State 34, Ball State 30
Line: Georgia State -3.5, o/u: 52.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 1.5
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

Saturday, September 3

Austin Peay at Troy

6:00 PM, ESPN3, Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, AL

Have fun with this one, Troy.

The Trojan passing game should roll at will against a miserable Austin Peay defense that got destroyed throughout last year. As bad as the Governor defense was, the offense was worse averaging just 12 points per game – it’s not going to be a whole bunch better.

It’ll be a great tune-up for Troy before the tables are turned next week when the Trojans are the scrimmage for Clemson. QB Brandon Silvers should be able to throw at will and make the offense look fantastic, but he’ll be done early in the second half. The Trojans will get a chance to see what the depth looks like.

Fearless Prediction: Troy 48, Austin Peay 10
Line: No Line
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1

South Alabama at Mississippi State

12:00 PM, SECN, Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS

The storyline will be Mississippi State as it tries to rebuild and reload before dealing with South Carolina. However, South Alabama should be just feisty enough to not be totally miserable – at least for a half.

The Jaguars don’t have a screaming weakness – at least when it comes to the Sun Belt season – and should be in the mix for a bowl game if the offense can be more consistent. With the Georgia Southern running game up next, and the Sun Belt season kicking in right away with back-to-back conference games, this should be a bit of a tune-up – if that’s possible against an SEC team.

MSU will stop the USA running game cold and should take over and pull away after a tight first quarter. The Jaguars will have a few good early drives, and then the offense will go bye-bye.

Fearless Prediction: Mississippi State 48, South Alabama 13
Line: Mississippi State -29.5, o/u: 56.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 3
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

Texas State at Ohio

3:30 PM, CBSSN, Peden Stadium, Athens, OH

It’s Bobcat on Bobcat action as new Texas State head coach Everett Withers has a ton of work to do with a rebuilding program coming off a disappointing year, but it has to roll into Athens, Ohio against a team that might be the best in the MAC East.

The Bobcat running game won’t have to get too quirky against a Bobcat defensive front that has an okay line, but won’t be showing much from the linebackers once the Ohio backs get into the second level. TXST QB Tyler Jones will have his moments, and the offense will stay in the game for a little while, but Ohio will pull away once the running game gets into a groove.

Ohio was 5-1 last year when running for 200 yards or more – it’ll get that easily.

Fearless Prediction: Ohio 37, Texas State 13
Line: Ohio -21
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 3
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2

Savannah State at Georgia Southern

6:00 PM, ESPN3, Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA

New head coach Tyson Summers has to prove out of the gate that the Georgia Southern offense is still going to be the Georgia Southern offense. If it can’t roll up a bajillion points against Savannah State, it’ll be time to worry right away.

The Tigers have been the FBS’s punching bag for years, and they’re not going to have the punch or pop to keep up the pace against an offense looking to prove the show won’t stop. The Eagles will put this away after two drives, and they’ll keep on rolling on the way to 500 rushing yards. Plenty of backs will get their time in the system to get their feet wet before the Sun Belt opener at South Alabama.

Fearless Prediction: Georgia Southern 62, Savannah State 13
Line: No Line
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1

Southern at ULM

7:00 PM, Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA

Can ULM keep up with a dangerous Southern University passing game that should put the pressure on right away?

The Jaguars might not have enough of a defense to deal with a fired up Warhawk team undergoing an overhaul under head coach Matt Viator. The ULM spread attack will have a few problems with an okay Jaguar defensive front, but if the passing game can get anything going at all, this will be over fast.

Southern will get its licks in, but the secondary is the ULM strength and should win just enough battles to get out alive. It’s going to be a scary way to start the season, but the Warhawks will survive.

Fearless Prediction: ULM 34, Southern 23
Line: No Line
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 1.5

New Mexico State at UTEP

8:00 PM, beIn Sports, Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX

Around 50 miles apart, the two schools are neighbors, but UTEP needs to come out rocking with a trip to Texas coming up next to truly get the season started.

The Miner offense will try to get the fun kickstarted with new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, and he shouldn’t have a problem against a Frank Sapziani defense that has to hope for his Aggie front seven to hold up.

Can the UTEP defense keep Larry Rose III under wraps? The star NMSU running back is always worth the price of admission, but he won’t be able to carry a defense that won’t generate enough stops. The Aggies will keep it relatively close, and the UTEP D won’t be a rock, but the Miners will do a bit more on the offensive front to open things up for an entertaining win.

Fearless Prediction: UTEP 37, New Mexico State 31
Line: UTEP -9.5, o/u: 60.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Lock of the Century – 1: Move Along … 2
Must See Rating: 5: Any Ryan Lochte interview – 1: Bridget Jones’s Baby … 2.5