Sun Belt Summer Content Series: 10 Deadliest OOC Donnybrooks
Summer is for posing the college football observations that will be long forgotten by the end of Fall camp. We start with a meatball: identifying the ten deadliest Sun Belt out of conference games in 2018.
There’s a TV spot currently in rotation that features a vastly outnumbered military force bravely charging into swords and spears for the remote chance of obtaining the enemy’s cache of Bud Lite. Behold, a pop analogy for Sun Belt OOC scheduling!
No conference dashes madly into the slings-and-arrows of Power Five might with more reckless abandon than the Sun Belt. It’s part of the brand, exchanging a bit of TV exposure, a shot at glory, and a sack of well-earned cash for an increased chance of season ending injury. This season presents the usual tide of challenges, which we shall rank now by each game’s deadliness (because it’s summer).
10. Texas State versus Rutgers, September 1
Deadliness: An Agitated Squirrel
Early ESPN FPI gives the Bobcats a mere 5.9% chance for victory, but come on. This is Rutgers, who finished 4-8 last season as the Big Ten’s rented mule. Texas State’s freakishly young roster is another season older. Let’s see if head coach Everett Withers is finally ready for prime time.
9. Troy versus Nebraska, September 15
Deadliness: Bucket of Rusty Nails
Cornhusker fans are super-stoked about Scott Frost. But cool your jets, Nebraska. The last team Frost fell to hailed from the Sun Belt – Arkansas State, who nearly upset the Huskers in the opener last season. Troy waltzes into Lincoln minus long-time talent from skill positions, but at least Neal Brown faces an opponent still seeking its identity.
8. ULM versus Ole Miss, October 6
Deadliness: Church-Sock Full of Nickels
Darth Viator and his Warhawks play a pair of P5 programs this year (see #6), which isn’t unusual for ULM. They like the pain. Meanwhile, Ole Miss is still looking for the Promised Land having lost its Moses due to “saucy hook-ups.” If Viator can dial up enough offense to make up for his terrible defense, the Warhawks can upset the Rebellious Bear Sharks.
7. Coastal Carolina versus South Carolina, September 1
Deadliness: Running with Scissors
Did You Know? You can schedule an in-state match-up between a G5 and P5 program without tilting the Earth from its orbit? Don’t take the Chants lightly, Gamecocks. Coastal only surrendered to Arkansas in the remaining moments of its game last season. Head coach Joe Moglia, returned from a year-long sabbatical, will be rested and motivated to shift glory from Columbia to Conway.
6. ULM versus Texas A&M, September 15
Deadliness: Jamie Lannister (Two-Handed Version)
The only fans more excited than Nebraska about Scott Frost is Texas A&M about Jimbo Fisher, who enters College Station hauling the incredible weight of National Championship expectations. Nobody expects a national title in Monroe, but Viator has positioned in Warhawks to cause trouble in the Sun Belt. ULM’s arch enemy, the Cajuns, slugged toe-to-toe for a half last year with the Aggies. The Warhawks are better.
5. Georgia State versus North Carolina State, September 8
Deadliness: Dark Ages Gangrene
ESPN FPI gives the Panthers a 3.5% shot at upending NC State, who finished 9-4 in a spunky ACC last season. Meanwhile, Georgia State is still trying to field an offense worthy of its brand new stadium, and will have to do so without departed starting QB Conner Manning – though that does leave the door open for awesomely monikered Aaron Winchester to take over. Still, the Panthers are bringing a Winchester to a tank fight.
4. South Alabama versus Oklahoma State, September 8
Deadliness: Forgotten Bear Trap In The Attic
The good news for the Jags is that Rudolph Mason is now in Pittsburg becoming best friends with Ben Roethlisberger. The bad news is that the Cowboys made the Jags look so silly in Mobile last season, the program wound up firing former SBC Coach of the Year Joey Jones. Now they get to go to Stillwater, minus their stud DB Jeremy Reaves and possibly a void at quarterback.
3. Appalachian State versus Penn State, September 1
Deadliness: John Wick with a Pencil
Everybody just love, love, loves Penn State right now. Everybody, that is, except the sturdy population of Boone, who would love to erase the memories a couple recent P5 near-misses with a victory over the Big 10 darlings. Coach Scott Satterfield will have to pull out the upset without longtime signal caller Taylor Lamb, but RB super-stud Jaylon Moore returns, giving the Mountaineers a chance.
2. Georgia Southern versus Clemson, September 15
Deadliness: Dexter (Seasons 1-2 Only)
Somehow, Clemson became the Other Alabama after Ohio State was no longer the Other Alabama. Georgia Southern has a new coach (Chad Lunsford) and an old attitude (Full Steam Triple Option) and is looking to reclaim its title as Sun Belt Butt Kicker. However, Clemson has seen enough Georgia Tech to be unfazed by the Eagles’ offensive chicanery. leaving Lunsfield with few weapons to throw at the Tigers’ title-contending squad.
1. (TIE) Arkansas State versus Alabama, September 8 & Louisiana versus Alabama, September 29
Deadliness: Thanos Snap
Is it a cop-out to declare #1 a tie? Yes. So? Go write your own summer content. The fact remains that the defending national champion gets a double dose of Sun Belt Heat, starting with the Red Wolves in Week 2. Arkansas State will field a team more prepared to take on Saban, but the Cajuns get the Tide after brutal punch-outs with Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Perhaps we let ESPN FPI decide: 0.4% for the Cajuns, 1.5% for the Red Wolves.
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.