Sun Belt Heat Week 1: Let’s Ruin Some Seasons, Y’all
The Sun Belt opens the season with 12 opportunities to totally F-up some fan bases.
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In the Sun Belt, Week 1 is Mess You Up Week. Think you’re hot stuff, LSU? Think again! Want to be a contender, Texas A&M? Too bad! Maybe this is your year, SMU? Nope! Gather those hopes-and-dreams and watch them crushed by the Sun Belt’s tremendous gravity.
Week 1 gives the Sun Belt twelve opportunities to shatter fan bases across the nation. Reveling in a fan’s despair may appear unseemly, but do you think Tennessee or Mississippi State gives a rat’s ass about our feelings? No way. I say, let their happiness fry in the furnace of Sun Belt Heat. (Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily the opinions held by our sponsor, O’Doul’s.)
Texas State Bobcats @ Texas A&M Aggies (#12), Thursday, August 29, 7:30 PM on SEC Network
Bobcats are a -34 dog, but so what?
Texas State opens the Sun Belt season against an AP Top 25 palooka. San Marcos seems transformed by the arrival of Jake Spavital and his young assistant coaching corp. Good! I’m tired of the Bobcats moping around the Sun Belt passively accepting terrible beatings. Linebacker Bryan London II leads a sneaky good defense, and newly named starting QB Tyler Vitt could flourish under Spavital’s air raid offense.
South Alabama Jaguars @ Nebraska Cornhuskers (#24), Saturday, August 31, 11:00AM on ESPN
Jags are a -36.5 dog which seems ridiculous to me
Look, let’s be honest: Scott Frost and the Cornhuskers haven’t done a thing to earn their #24 ranking except to be the Cornhuskers. That being said, Steve Campbell and South Bama have an inbox full of work to do, starting with putting a reliable leader behind center. The Jags think they have that with Cephus Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore that got some action last season. Also coming back, the ageless RB Tra Minter.
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, Saturday, August 31, 11:00AM on ESPNU
Cowbell Junkies are expected to win by 20
Surprise! Instead of agreeing on a HvH with the Cajuns, the Bulldogs negotiated a neutral site game at the New Orleans Bowl, where Louisiana once won, like, a thousand New Orleans Bowls in a row. That gives 2nd year head coach Billy Napier and his monster run game a bit of an edge against at Bulldogs team thought to be rebuilding this year.
Georgia State Panthers @ Tennessee Volunteers, Saturday, August 31, 2:30PM on ESPNU
Vegas has the Panthers down 26 points
Tennessee keeps rolling the dice on the Sun Belt, which is fine. One day, they’re gonna come up craps, and who’s to say Georgia State isn’t the one to cash in? The Panthers and head coach Shawn Elliot seem pretty keen on starting QB Dan Ellington, who has wheels and a strong arm. But Penny Hart bailed for the NFL this offseason, leaving Ellington without a significant weapon. Still, it just seems like a matter of time before Georgia State comes up with a big win. It’d be cool if it came at the expense of the Vols.
Eastern Michigan Eagles @ Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Saturday, August 31, 2:30PM on ESPN+
Chants disrespected, a 6.5 underdog at home
I know even less about the Eagles than I know about the Chants. A good reporter would do the research, but I suck. And besides, it doesn’t matter. The Chants are the amoeba of the Sun Belt. You never know what’s coming out onto the gridiron. As for Eastern Michigan, they’re in the MAC. They’re probably in Conway, SC for the fleeting sensation of warmth.
East Tennessee State Buccaneers @ Appalachian State Mountaineers, Saturday, August 31, 2:30PM on ESPN+
Finally, a bodybag game for the Sun Belt
There’s no Vegas line on this game, but ESPN gives the Mountaineers a 98.6% chance to win, which seems good. Appalachian State could use the Week One tune-up, breaking in new head coach Eliah Drinkwitz and giving that defense some stat-padding stats. Am I being unfair to the Bucs? Sure. Direct all complaints to my sponsor, O’Doul’s.
Campbell Fighting Camels @ Troy Trojans, Saturday, August 31, 5:30PM on ESPN+
Trojans look to make soup out of an FCS opponent
As many of us in the underworld know, back-alley camel fighting is both the shame of the South and highly entertaining. ESPN gives Troy a 98.1% chance of best the Fighting Camels, and I lazily accept it.
O’Doul’s “Maintain Your Edge” Game of the Week
SMU Mustangs @ Arkansas State Red Wolves, Saturday, August 31, 6:00PM on ESPN+
Red Wolves have a 2.5-point Edge
It’s no secret (unless you don’t care or didn’t watch) that the Mustangs pounded the Red Wolves 44-21 in 2017. That was a messed-up game that saw starting QB Justice Hansen go down with an injury, and the team implode beneath the weight of ridiculous penalties. Now the Mustangs get a taste of The Monster House, where Arkansas State will emerge from a swank new operations center totally stoked for revenge.
Red Wolves are green at QB, with Logan Bonner ready at last to assume duties behind center. But SMU is introducing a new quarterback as well – Longhorns transfer Shane Buechele. My guess: whoever makes the fewest rookies mistakes wins.
Georgia Southern Eagles @ LSU Tigers (#6), Saturday, August 31, 6:30PM on ESPNU
Eagles are a 27.5 underdog, so bet everything
Tigers are saying the right things, openly puzzling how they’re going to cope with Chad Lunsford’s mysterious Triple Option offense. Georgia Southern seems pretty confident about their chances, now that starting QB Shai Werts is no longer accused of spilling $10,000 of pure Big C all over the hood of his car. It also helps that the Eagles feature one of the stingiest pass defenses in the nation.
Grambling Tigers @ ULM Warhawks, Saturday, August 31, 7:00PM on ESPNU
ESPN gives Grambling a better-than 5% chance
ULM and their FCS athletics budget welcomes Grambling to beautiful Malone Stadium for an evening of chasing Caleb Evans around the gridiron. That’s it. That’s the review.
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.