2018 Sun Belt Sizzle Week 4: Magma Mayhem
Sun Belt Sizzle keeps y’all woke on what’s hot in Sun Belt football.
The Sun Belt captured three out-of-conference wins last week – all on the road. Troy picked up the conference’s first P5 bag of the year, ringing up Nebraska, and Arkansas State reminded Tulsa that there is no such thing as “P6.” (Oh yeah, and Coastal Carolina won that weird Wednesday tilt against Campbell.)
|vs. Top 25||0-5|
Yessir, that’s some progress! Six OOC wins (non FCS) equals the Sun Belt’s output for the entire 2017 season. And according to Sun Belt Stats Mistress Kara Richey, the news gets even better:
The opportunity to dine on more OOC tacos starts this Saturday, with a host of meaty G5/G5 matchups – half in Sun Belt venues. If you think I’m stoked, bro, you’re right.
Saturday, September 22
Western Michigan @ Georgia State, 1:00 PM on ESPN+ at Georgia State Stadium
(Panthers +7, 20.6% FPI)
Both programs are a blah 1-2 on the year, but Vegas likes the Broncos a touchdown and XP better than the Panthers, who have taken consecutive nut-thumps from NC State and Memphis. On Saturday, Georgia State surrendered a whopping 410 rushing yards to Memphis, who enjoyed 11.7 yards per attempt. That’s not good.
Now Western Michigan’s Levante Bellamy, who ran for 120 yards and 2 TDs against Seminole-crushing Syracuse, gets to pound that soft, mushy Panther run defense. The Broncos offer a pretty balanced offense attack, scoring nearly 38 points per game…which is about what the Panther’s D surrenders to opponents.
Georgia State 17, Western Michigan 10
Gardner-Webb @ Appalachian State, 2:30 PM on ESPN+ at Kidd Brewer Stadium
(Mountaineers 99.3% FPI)
Hurricane Florence gave the Mountaineers a vacation for Week 3, and the schedule has given Appalachian State another vacation in Week 4. I don’t know a thing about the Bulldogs, but I do know that Mountaineers starting QB Zach Thomas as been pretty great and that Gardner-Webb should maybe think about spending Saturday afternoon having a nice lunch rather than getting beat up in Boone.
Appalachian State 59, Gardner-Webb 5
UNLV @ Arkansas State, 6:00 PM on ESPN3 at Centennial Bank Stadium
(Red Wolves -7.5, 71.8% FPI)
Arkansas State excised a ten-year, FBS road win curse with a defense-driven victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Scotch and White Owls for everyone! Except now the Red Wolves are hosting the Rebels of UNLV, so that gas station cigar has got to smolder.
UNLV is a surprising third in the nation for rushing, averaging a grass-vomiting 345 yards a game behind leggy quarterback Armani Rogers, a 6-5 American Ninja who averages more the 100 rushing yards per game. Red Wolves will need to bottle up Rogers to smoke the rest of that cigar.
Arkansas State 38, UNLV 21
Coastal Carolina @ Louisiana, 6:000 PM on ESPN+ at Cajun Field
(Cajuns -4, 30.8% FPI)
Weirdly, ESPN FPI projects the Chants to trump Louisiana on Cajuns turf, but the scholars in Vegas have Louisiana a 4-point favorite. I suspect nobody truly knows what the Chants or the Cajuns are capable of, though the Chanticleers have won two straight, including a dominating win over CUSA’s UAB Blazers.
Meanwhile, first year head coach Billy Napier is still working on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ identity after a 56-10 thumb-breaking to Mississippi State. Neither team is much for defense – both give up more than 30 points per game. But the Chants seem awfully poised under Joe Moglia this year, It’s bizarre to believe that Coastal Carolina could dump the Cajuns in Lafayette after less than two years of FBS experience, but here we are.
Coastal Carolina 41, Louisiana 35
Troy @ ULM, 6:00 PM on ESPN+ at Malone Stadium
(Warhawks +4.5, 42.7% FPI)
You know why the Trojans aren’t predicted to blowout the Warhawks’ on Saturday night, even though ULM hasn’t looked particularly impressive and Troy is coming of a good road win over Nebraska? The Trojans always tank after big wins. Last year, Neal Brown’s boys cratered to South Bama after beating LSU. The year before, Troy was rolled by Arkansas State after breaking into the AP Top 25. Success is Trojan kryptonite, and Matt Viator will be licking his chops to knock off the Sun Belt darling.
ULM 31, Troy 20
Texas State @ UTSA, 6:00PM on ESPN+ at Alamodome
(Chants +7.5, 24.3% FPI)
Oh yeah, it’s the HEB 1-30 Showdown, the Greatest Rivalry In All Of Sports! Nobody in Texas will want to miss it.
All right, well, at least UTSA and Texas State do hate each other so much that Roadrunners officials are already apologizing for the grossness of their rivalry signage.
Texas State 17, Tulsa 10
South Alabama @ Memphis, 7:00 PM on ESPN3 at the Liberty Bowl
(Jaguars -31, 2.6% FPI)
Last week, South Alabama fell behind the Bobcats and it really looked like Texas State was going to win and then, well, the Jags scored 18 unanswered in the 4th quarter and won by 10, giving Steve Campbell his first win as an FBS head coach. But now he gets a Memphis Tigers’ team that’s fresh off embarrassing Georgia State and will have no qualms about doing the same to South Alabama.
The good news for the Jags is that Evan Orth was solid behind center against the Bobcats on Saturday, tossing two TDs against zero interceptions. He’ll need that performance plus some to overcome a Memphis offense that’s nearly scoring 50 points per game.
South Alabama 69, Memphis, Nice
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.