CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: Sun Belt Rankings
The 2017 CFN Preview ranking of all the Sun Belt teams.
Where do the Sun Belt teams rank going into the season? This is NOT a ranking of how the teams are projected or predicted to finish. This is a ranking of how good they all appear to be going into the fall.
2017 Preview: Sun Belt Rankings
12. Coastal Carolina
It’s the first season in the FBS after doing big things as an FCSer. The Chanticleers are tremendously well coached, they’ve got experience at key spots, and they might have a little bit of firepower. The defensive ends could be a problem for the Sun Belt as the season goes on.
11. Texas State
Things are going to be better. They have to be. There’s still an overall talent issue, but the quarterback situation is stronger with Mississippi State transfer Damian Williams taking over, the linebacking corps is going to be good at times, and the receiving corps is solid. The problem? The lines aren’t going to be able to hold up on either side.
10. New Mexico State
Can the Aggies make some noise in their last season in the Sun Belt? The offense should be dangerous with RB Larry Rose III back to form and QB Tyler Rogers back from injury. The defense will keep giving up points as fast as the offense can crank them up. but that was Idaho’s problem last year and it ended up going bowling.
9. Georgia State
It’s a new era with a new coaching staff and a new place to play, but it’s still going to take a little while to get rolling. The secondary will be among the league’s best. and QB Conner Manning and the passing game will have their moments, but wait until next year before this all gets rolling.
How much will the suspensions and off-field issues matter? The defensive front and the secondary has a few playmakers, but the firepower needs to show up in the passing game..The Ragin’ Cajuns are always good enough to be in the bowl mix, but it’ll be a struggle.
7. South Alabama
The Jaguars are coming off a strange and fun season that finished with a bowl appearance. This year’s version isn’t as strong, but there are just enough good pieces of the puzzle returning for a shot at a swag bag. It’ll be a pesky team, but it likely won’t be in the Sun Belt title hunt.
The Warhawks should be in for a bit of a breakthrough season as long as QB Garrett Smith is healthy. The linebacking corps is solid, the offensive line should be among the best in the conference, and there’s just enough talent and experience across the board to push for a possible winning season.
After the fantastic breakthrough season – and in the last year before going off to the Big Sky world – the Vandals should be every bit as potent. The defense might not be great, but that’s where the experience is, while QB Matt Linehan will be among the Sun Belt’s top statistical stars.
4. Georgia Southern
The triple option didn’t exactly go away, but it wasn’t as dominant as it should’ve been. Now it should be a force, even without the star quarterbacks of the last few years. The running backs will be special for an attack that’ll control most games, but can the defensive front do much of anything? The secondary should be solid, but the line has to hold up.
3. Arkansas State
There’s a lot not to like – mainly the reboot needing to be done on the lines – but it’s Arkansas State. It’s going to be in the Sun Belt title chase until the end. QB Justice Hansen leads a good enough backfield to get by, while Ja’Von Rolland-Jones might just be the best player in the league.
The offense is ready to rock and roll again with QB Brandon Silvers and RB Jordan Chunn forming a dominant backfield, and with the Sun Belt’s best receiving corps to open things up from there. The D will be along for the ride, but the O will handle the heavy lifting.
1. Appalachian State
Loaded with a terrific veteran offense that should be able to hold up against anyone and everyone, the running game will be fantastic, the linebacking corps a load, and the talent level in place to take the Sun Belt title in what should be a double-digit win season.