Sun Belt Autopsy Week 12: Battle Royale
Five teams are left to throwing haymakers in the Sun Belt title battle.
The Sun Belt is without a conference title game, an egregious error set to be remedied in 2018. For now, what we have is delicious entropy. Five teams – Red Wolves, Mountaineers, Trojans, Panthers and Cajuns – vie for Sun Belt Championship trophy. Cajuns have two in the loss column; the rest only one. Each has two conference games remaining. Tell me you are not entertained by this! You cannot!
Because I’m not a scholar or even very smart, I’ll relay ESPN FPI predictions for each contender’s chances for winning the title.
- Troy 42.6%
- Arkansas State 43.9%
- Georgia State 19.7%
- Appalachian State 68%
- Louisiana 1.4%
Okay, so the Cajuns don’t have a tremendous shot. Still, only Appalachian State plays its remaining two games against 2017 title contenders – Georgia State and Louisiana. Mark Hudspeth could very well have a final say to how the Sun Belt shapes up this season, one way or another.
ULM Warhawks 14, #6 Auburn War Eagles or Tigers 42
The Warhawks gave us 30 Blistering minutes of #SunBeltHeat
If you checked in on college football around noon, you likely listened to many pundits chortling over the Warhawks’ gutty stand against Gus Malzahn and his 6th ranked Auburn Tigers. After all, the score was only 14-7 Auburn as the break. But that tough Tigers defense wound up picking off co-starting QB Garret Smith twice (one for a pick six), and the plucky Warhawks offense simply didn’t have enough firepower to keep up. Now Darth Viator needs win out against Arkansas State and Florida State to obtain coveted bowl eligibility.
Next Up: Warhawks welcome the Red Wolves
Texas State Bobcats 12, Arkansas State Red Wolves 30
The Bobcats couldn’t out-bark the big dog
Played under MAC-level conditions of chill and wind, the Red Wolves pounded the young Bobcats into submission, holding Texas State to 200 total yards. Arkansas State unboxed its seldom-used ground game to avoid the 50MPH wind gusts, handing running Warren Wand 27 caries for 147 yards and a score. Despite breaking out for an occasional big play, Bobcats quarterback Damian Williams offense spent most of the afternoon feeing the Red Wolves defense, which collected a season high 16 TFLs.
Next Up: Red Wolves visit ULM, Bobcats drops in on Troy
South Alabama Jaguars 0, Georgia Southern Eagles 52
Uh, what a second, what?
On Monday, South Alabama announced that 2017 will be Joey Jones’ last year at the helm, which might have something to do with Saturday’s steamrolling by previously winless Georgia Southern. The game was out of hand immediately with the Eagles running in three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The Jags offense looked especially helpless, with quarterbacks Cole Garvin and Dallas Davis not only chipping in a pick apiece, but also coming in as the team’s 1-2 leaders in rushing, combining for a measly 24 yards. Meanwhile, the Eagles seem to have established a new QB tandem in Shai Werts (107 yards, 2 total TDs) and Kado Brown (120 yards, 1 TD), signaling that the true triple option may finally be back in Statesboro.
Next Up: Georgia Southern visits Louisiana, South Bama reflects on its failures
New Mexico State Aggies 34, Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 47
The Cajuns remembered to score some points
Trey Ragas is back at running back, Jordan Davis returns at quarterback, and suddenly the Cajuns are a factor in the Sun Belt title race. Davis blasted the Aggies for three total TDs, while Ragas chipped in 132 yards and a pair of scores to out-slug Tyler Rogers – who left the game early due to a shoulder injury. Rogers backup, Nick Jeanty, coughed up three picks and New Mexico State’s defense simply couldn’t contain the Cajuns. An offense led by a cocky Ragas and Davis could be the right formula to detonate the Sun Belt into chaos.
Next Up: Louisiana gets the Eagles, Aggies entertain the Vandals
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 13, Idaho Vandals 7
The Chants pick up its first conference win EVEr
Week 12 will always be remembered in the annals of Sun Belt History as the week the Eagles and the Chanticleers picked up its first conference wins of the season. The Vandals, starting coach’s son Mason Petrino over injured QB Matt Linehan, look like a team already playing in the FCS. Listen, congrats and all to Coastal Carolina, but what a horrible game to watch, with only three points scored total in the second half. The Sun Belt is about more than just winning games, guys. It’s about entertaining the universe. And we were not entertained.
Next Up: Vandals get New Mexico State, and the Chants rest on the laurels of sweet victory
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.