Sun Belt Autopsy Week Eleven: Zombie Belt!
The Sun Belt experienced a shakeup last week that has the conference scrambling after the Red Wolves and glory.
Welcome to the ZBC (Zombie Belt Conference), where teams given up for dead magically rise from the grave to menace the college football landscape. Week 11 was as zombified as it gets, with the undead Jaguars trumping the sleepwalking Red Wolves to reanimate the conference title race.
Breathing oxygen once again are Troy, Appalachian State and Georgia State – all given a new lease on life with Arkansas States’ loss in Mobile. Of the one-loss teams vying for immortality, the Red Wolves have the most conference games remaining (3). Each contender plays one game against another contender. A title-share seems destined, but you never know in the Zombie Belt.
You can’t keep a good college football conference down, even when it’s dead.
Georgia Southern Eagles 6, Appalachian State Mountaineers 27
The Eagles are Soaring to an 0-12 season
Georgia Southern entered the second quarter of the Thursday night contest with a 3-0 lead. Then the Mountaineers defense woke up and started asserting their will, holding the Eagles to a miserable 191 yards of offense and cruising to victory. Taylor Lamb operated at peak efficiency, tossing a pair of TDs on just 161 yards throwing. It wasn’t a flashy demolishing of a rival, but then again, a nonchalant beating just feels worse for Georgia Southern.
Next Up: Georgia Southern courts South Bama, Mountaineers sit this one out
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 22, Ole Miss Black Bears/Rebels/Landsharks/Whatever 50
Olm Miss really enjoyed themselves at the Cajuns Expense
Mark Hudspeth never had a chance to flex a muscle on Saturday. Ole Miss scored four touchdowns before the Cajuns even touch the scoreboard. But at least the Louisiana social media manager saw the sunny side of it all.
Levi Lewis finished with a less-than-social-media-noteworthy 14/26 with no scores. Jinxed! Demoted QB Jordan Davis wound up doing the Cajuns heavy lifting, jogging in a pair of TDs. This feels like a “let’s pack it in, guys” loss for the Ragin Cajuns, who have a 0.8% chance for winning the conference (according to the almighty ESPN FPI matrix).
Next Up: Louisiana hosts New Mexico State
Georgia State Panthers 33, Texas State Bobcats (2-7)
The Panthers nearly pulled a Red Wolf
This game was too compelling for comfort for Georgia State, whose defense made the Bobcats uneven quarterback Damian Williams look like an all-star with 3 TD passes on 315 yards. Listen, something has happened to Texas State of late. Everett Withers’ crew has put together consecutive 30-point efforts, and to do so against the Panthers not-so-bad defense should give anyone left on the Bobcats schedule a mild case of heartburn. Nevertheless, Georgia State persisted to the win, who trailed 30-26 with just six minutes left. Congrats to the Panthers, now the 3rd Sun Belt team to become bowl eligible.
Up Next: Georgia State takes it easy, Texas State takes on Arkansas State
Troy Trojans 42, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 17
The Trojans prove that they can score points
Coastal Carolina surrendered to Troy on Saturday afternoon than it did to Arkansas the week before, thanks to a mix of power running, special teams excellence and a defense that held the Chants to under 260 total yards. Neal Brown’s crew scored its most points of the season, even with star quarterback Brandon Silvers once again putting up puzzlingly pedestrian numbers (206 yards, a TD and a pick). But the special teams picked up the slack, with Marcus Jones returning two kick-offs for touchdowns. Nobody is happier than Troy to be back in the Sun Belt race.
Next Up: Coastal wakes up Idaho, Troy takes a nap
Arkansas State Red Wolves 19, South Alabama Jaguars 24
Jags defeat the Red Wolves for the first time ever
The Jags forced two quick interceptions out of the Red Wolves to open the game, and Arkansas State never recovered. Employing a game plan of short passes to neutralize the Red Wolves fearsome front seven, Jags quarterback Cole Garvin racked up 343 and two TDs. But it was the defense that came up aces for Joey Jones, creating 6 turnovers and making a star out of Bull Barge, who led South Alabama with 13 tackles.
Next Up: Red Wolves host the Bobcats, Jags welcome Georgia Southern
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.