2018 Sun Belt Sizzle Week 5: Simmering
Sun Belt Sizzle keeps y’all woke on what’s hot in Sun Belt football.
Welcome to Week 5, Sun Belters – the week our content-rich storylines vanish into the Phantom Zone of conference play! AHHHHHHHHHH! No national media dare penetrate it. Get ready for a steady and bland diet of Dabo and Ohio State and the S-E-C. That’s okay. We get to keep the juicy Sun Belt drama all to ourselves.
And there is drama, y’all. Yes, the Troika of Arkansas State, Troy and Appalachian State appear unstoppable. But OOC play has revealed a bevy of conference upstarts greedy for power. Which reminds me! It’s time to tally up those OOC numbers.
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The Sun Belt has taken care of its business against the FCS (not all conferences can make this claim), and while the Sun Belt missed many opportunities against peer conferences in Week 4, Karl Benson maintains a .500 record.
But OOC victories will be harder to come by as we drink deep from the chalice of Sun Belt play. Lucky for us, that Sun Belt nectar is both warm and sweet,.
Saturday, September 29
Louisiana @ #1 Alabama, 11:00 AM on SEC Network at Bryant-Denny Stadium
(Cajuns +48, 0.2% FPI)
The Crimson Tide demolished the Arkansas State Red Wolves by 50, so in a way its a sign of respect that Alabama is only favored by 48 over the Cajuns, right? Who wouldn’t respect Andre Nunez and his stellar 72% completion rating? Or Trey Ragas’ 294 ground yards – the second most in the SBC?
Troubling for Louisiana is the softness of the D, which is giving up 34 points a game. The Cajuns allowed Coastal Carolina pick up a win in Lafayette last week, mostly because D had no answers for the pass or the run. Good thing Alabama has neither of those!
Louisiana 48, Alabama 0
ULM @ Georgia State, 1:00 PM on ESPN+ at Georgia State Stadium
(Panthers +6, 38% FPI)
The Panthers didn’t show much at home in a 34-15 loss against Western Michigan on Saturday, mustering 58 measly yards on the ground. Thirty-five of those yards were provided by quarterback Dan Ellington, who punched in the only two Panthers scores.
Meanwhile, ULM spotted Troy a 35-7 lead at halftime – and nearly won the damn game, shutting down the Trojans offense in the second half and scoring 20 unanswered before time expired. Though Matt Viator and his Warhawks collected the L on Wednesday, you got to like that second-half comeback. Look for the momentum to continue against the punchless Panthers.
ULM 45, Georgia State 10
Coastal Carolina @ Troy, 2:30 PM on ESPN3 at Veterans Stadium
(Trojans -14, 69.6% FPI)
Three SBC teams are 3-1 after four weeks of play – and one of those teams is the Chanticleers. Yup. Running back Marcus Outlow is currently leading the Sun Belt with 358 yards, and head coach Joe Moglia managed to come out of steaming-hot Lafayette with a tough road win on Saturday. It’s early, but Coastal has become one of those dashing mystery contenders in the Belt.
Speaking of 3-1, Troy has recovered from its season-opening face-plant to Boise State and has rolled behind junior QB Kaleb Barker and his seven TD passes. With wins over ULM and Nebraska, Neal Brown is rolling on auto-pilot, meaning the only thing that can stop the Trojans from winning the division is boredom. And possibly Coastal.
Troy 35, Coastal Carolina 30
South Alabama @ Appalachian State, 2:30 PM on ESPN+ at Kidd Brewer Stadium
(Mountaineers -26, 95.5% FPI)
South Alabama is currently sitting on the Iron Throne of the Sun Belt East, but the Jaguars are more Tommen than Joffery. By the Seven, the Jaguars were on the verge of being iced by Texas State a couple weeks ago before rallying in the second half!
Meanwhile, the well-rested Mountaineers are coming off an unscheduled Hurricane Flo bye and a cruel playground bullying of Gardner-Webb. Despite playing just three games, Appalachian State leads the Sun Belt in points scored, mostly because quarterback Zac Thomas is sporting an insane 195.2 QBR.
Appalachian State 38, South Bama 21
Arkansas State @ Georgia Southern, 5:00 PM on ESPN+ at Paulson Stadium
(Red Wolves -3, 43.4% FPI)
ESPN FPI likes the Eagles. Vegas likes the Red Wolves. But neither team likes each other! It’s too early to declare Georgia Southern officially back as a Sun Belt contender, but head coach Chad Lunsford has reinstalled the Triple Option and the swagger back in Statesboro. A revenge win over UMASS will do that to a team.
Arkansas State have dispatched Tulsa and UNLV in consecutive weeks, which is notable because both teams feature hard-running QBs that the Red Wolves’ successfully contained. Now they get Shai Werts, who is flourishing in his second year. He won’t be anything the Red Wolves haven’t seen.
Georgia Southern, 17, Arkansas State 35
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.