Sun Belt Sizzle Autopsy Eight: Vital Signs Normal
Everything, more-or-less, went to plan for the Sun Belt during Week 8: OOC blowouts, a midseason canning, and consolidations of power by the Conference Establishment.
Welcome to Normalcy World, ye sturdy fans of the Sun Belt, where the conference elite punishes the conference weak. Heck, even the out-of-conference weak punish the Sun Belt weak. It’s all going to plan, now, with Sun Belt upstarts sinking in the standings, and The Big 3 rising to the top. Thanks for playing, Georgia State and ULM! You flew too close to the sun, and how you hurtle, screaming, towards cruel Earth. We enjoyed your moxie, though. ‘Twas fun while it lasted.
Oh yeah, a Georgia Southern fired Tyson Summers.
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 3, Arkansas State Red Wolves 47
This game went exactly as i predicted, but opposite
What was predicted (by me) to be a bruising defensive battle was actually a lopsided affair where Arkansas State dominated Louisiana on both sides of the ball. The Cajuns entered Centennial Bank Stadium averaging more than 30 points per game, but the Red Wolves held Mark Hudspeth’s crew to only 3 points – a 51 yard field goal from super-kicker Steve Artigue. QB Justice Hansen, clearly bored with all the tiresome throwing, turned in the Red Wolves best rushing performance of the year with 121 yards and a score (on top of 275 yards passing and two TDs).
Next Up: Arkansas State visits New Mexico State, Louisiana takes a week off
Idaho Vandals 21, Missouri Tigers 68
Can the vandals join the Big Sky now?
You know, things didn’t start off badly for Paul Petrino and the Vandals. Armond Hawkins picked off Tiger QB Drew Lock and Matt Linehan executed a crisp, 4-play scoring drive that gave Idaho the early lead. Sadly, Missouri would score 37 points before the Vandals could score again. If you liked watching wide receivers saunter into the end zone untouched, and witness overmatched defenders bounce like tennis balls off of enormous running backs, then this was the game for you. Honestly, the Vandals social media director sums it up best:
Next Up: Vandals see ULM
Troy Trojans 34, Georgia State Panthers 10
Panthers are still winless at Georgia State stadium
Troy was obviously peeved about losing The Battle of the Belt to South Alabama. With Jordan “Mega” Chunn injured and sidelined, the Trojans poured their pent-up aggression onto Georgia State, who missed more field goals (2/3) than made touchdowns (1). After an awful outing against the Jags, Troy signal caller Brandon Silvers delivered a Golden Arm performance, doubling his yearly TD total from 2 to 4, and collecting 335 yards against one pick. Silvers counterpart, Conner Manning, did connect with WR Penny Hart for a score, but the Trojans defense largely kept the talented pass catcher out of the game, and Manning spent most of the day desperately dodging Trojan pass rushers.
Next Up: Troy host Georgia Southern, the Panthers get the Jags
Georgia Southern Eagles 20, UMASS Minutemen 55
Well, that was humiliating
Eagles QB Shai Werts was injured on the last play of the game last week against New Mexico State, which meant UMASS received a double-punch of Kado Brown and LaBaron Anthony. The duo combined to complete five passes as the Minutemen were never challenged for a second by Georgia Southern’s free falling program. UMASS used the opportunity to give backup QB Ross Camis a chance to pad his stats (3 TD passes), and the Georgia Southern brass used the opportunity to hand head coach Tyson Summers (0-6 on the season) a pink slip.
Next Up: Georgia Southern tries its luck against Troy
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 29, Appalachian State Mountaineers 37
The Mountaineers reamain unspectacularly undefeated
Tyler Lamb and the Mountaineers opened the game by rolling over the Chanticleers for two quick touchdowns. Then the slog began. Coastal Carolina actually lead at halftime, with Tyler Keane and RB Oshamar Abercrombie putting the team on their shoulder pads. But the Chants just aren’t deep enough to compete for four quarters, and eventually Appalachian State’s passing game was just too much for Coastal’s secondary to stop. Lamb finished with one of his finest performances on the year – 427 yards, two TDs and no picks – and WR Jalen Virgil had himself a game (186 yards, 2 TDs), but RB Jalen Moore left the game early with dings. The Mountaineers are 4-0 in conference, but they’ve only dispatched their opponents by 8 points per game. Troubling?
Next Up: It’s Appalachian State’s turn to play UMASS, The Chants host Texas State
ULM Warhawks 23, South Alabama Jaguars 33
The Jags remain the Sun Belt’s most confounding team
Last season the Jaguars defeated San Diego State and Mississippi State, then cratered versus the Sun Belt. This season, South Bama is awful out of conference but is currently tied for second in the Belt at 2-1, having already knocked off title contender Troy, and now former conference leader ULM. In a matchup where both teams flip-flop between QBs, ULM’s Caleb Evans and South Alabama’s Dallas Davis received all the reps behind center. But Davis flourished against the Warhawks’ mushy defense, turning in his best game of the year – 317 yards and 3 TDs. Also making an appearance, disappearing and reappearing Xavier Johnson with 99 yards and a score. Perhaps this is the year Joey Jones makes a play for the SBC title?
Next Up: South Bama visits Georgia State, ULM tries to turn it around against Idaho
Sun Belt Conference Standings
- Appalachian State 4-0
- Arkansas State 2-0
- South Alabama 2-1
- Troy 2-1
- Georgia State 2-1
- ULM 3-2
- Louisiana 3-2
- New Mexico State 1-2
- Idaho 1-2
- Georgia Southern 0-2
- Texas State 0-3
- Coastal Carolina 0-4
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.