Sun Belt Heat Week 3: Level Up
Week 2 was among the Sun Belt’s most successful in recent memory. The challenge – and the opponents – Level Up in Week 3.
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Question: Was Week Two the best week ever for the Sun Belt?
Answer: That requires a level of research I’m not willing to invest into a free article. However, here are the facts: 1) The Sun Belt won 7 out of 9 contests, 2) one of those wins was against a (questionable) P5 program, 3) ULM was a missed-XP from deepening the misery of Florida State, 4) The Sun Belt remained flawless against FCS traps, and 5) Troy probably wished they’d been in on this sweeeeet Sun Belt Heat.
Coastal Carolina either “upset a national brand” or “took care of business.” Both answers are correct. You can accept it either way. I recommend accepting it with Chanticleer-level violence:
Damn, Chants! That aggressive behavior earned Pedro a stern lecture from Principal Svadean. On the opposite end of the piñata, ULM, who overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to take the fully hydrated Seminoles to overtime, only the boink the XP! At least Florida State lost the game in their soul:
The big bow on the evening? The surprise return of Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson, who delighted the team by catching the last plane to Vegas to take on the UNLV Rebels.
The Red Wolves could have trashed Clemson after that scene, but had to settle for beating up the hapless Rebels, who opened the game with a Pick Six and never recovered.
Week 3 is a different chapter, though. For example, only two FCS matchups are slated, and there ain’t a Charlotte 49er among the peer conference contests. Only two P5 programs appear on the schedule, but one of them is in the hunt for a Playoff spot and both are on the road. Time to level up, buttercups.
Arkansas State Red Wolves @ #3 Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday, September 14, 11:00 AM on ESPN2
Red Wolves shouldn’t be bothered by a 33-point spread, right?
The Red Wolves, having felt the unrefined power of dominating UNLV 43-17, are ready to run though all the hedges in Georgia now that Coach Anderson has returned to the sideline. With his return came something unexpected: discipline. Against the Rebels, Arkansas State played a mostly clean game, with relatively few penalties and zero turnovers.
That discipline will be need against Georgia, who average 300 ground yards per game behind their all-star offensive linemen. The Red Wolves did well against UNLV’s run attack, which relies more on diversion and speed rather than power. Georgia will have plenty of both.
The Bulldogs have wins against Vanderbilt and Murray State, which means maybe some of their stats are artificially plumped. But you know what’s not artificial? Bulldogs class:
Norfolk State Spartans @ Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Saturday, September 14, 1:00 PM on ESPN3
Chants have a 4.1% chance of getting Jayhawked
After Georgia State defeated Tennessee, the Panthers nearly high-fived themselves to a loss against Furman the following weeks. Who knows if the Chants will fall to such shenanigans against Norfolk State? We do know that Conway, South Carolina is about to get krunk:
O’Doul’s “Maintain Your Edge” Game of the Week
Georgia Southern Eagles @ Minnesota Gophers, Saturday, September 14, 2:30 PM on Big Ten Network
Gophers have the 15.5-point Edge
I could research how many games the Sun Belt has played against Minnesota, but this ice cold O’Doul’s (sponsored) isn’t going to drink itself! The Gophers are 2-0, but they’re not a cocky 2-0, having been taken to overtime by Fresno State and winning by only a TD to San Diego State. Now they get their third G5 in a row, which has to be a P5 record, right?
Anyway, Georgia Southern looked helpless against LSU and didn’t look very great against Maine, either. It didn’t help that Shai Werts was held out in Week 2 with a bum shoulder, but the Eagles really need Werts running the triple option if they want to confound Minnesota – who (sadly) appears better at stopping the run than preventing the pass.
Memphis Tigers @ South Alabama Jaguars, Saturday, September 14, 2:30 PM on ESPNU
Tigers are favored by 19, but also favored to get a Ladd-Peebles staph infection
Memphis started slowly against the Southern Jaguars before issuing the expected 55-24 face-shattering. They’ll need to start hotter against the South Alabama Jaguars (no relation), because it appears head coach Steve Campbell has finally figured out how to use Tra Minter, who pounded out 180 yards and a pair of TDs against not-so-bad Jackson State.
Home field can be an advantage, and South Bama has seen upsets at musty old Ladd-Peebles (are you okay, San Diego State?). But Memphis is really playing well on both sides of the ball, and Jaguar quarterback Cephus Johnson has already thrown four picks, and two of those picks went to Jackson State in Week 2. That’s a little worrisome, but never underestimate Ladd-Peebles, where one can still hear the souls of WPA workers screaming inside the concrete.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles @ Troy Trojans, Saturday, September 14, 5:00 PM on ESPN+
With the Trojans a mere 2.5-point favorite, perhaps this game deserves the O’Doul’s
Listen, if you want to unscrew an icy smooth O’Doul’s during Trojans vs Golden Eagles, then please be my guest! Both teams have a convincing FCS win, but while Troy enjoyed a nice weekend off, Southern Miss got beat up by Mississippi State in Week 2. But that’s not why Troy is going to win. The Trojans are going to win because CUSA really blows chunks right now.
The reason why the Trojans might not win? Southern Miss has won 7 of its 9 clashes with Troy. Yeah, I think this one’s gonna be pretty good.
Texas State Bobcats @ SMU Mustangs, Saturday, September 14, 6:00PM on ESPN3
Favored by 17-points, the Mustangs can’t quit the Sun Belt
The Mustangs followed their 37-30 victory over Arkansas State with a cruel 49-27 lip-splitting of the Mean Green. Behind Texas Longhorn transfer quarterback Shane Buechele, who’s put up 652 passing yards and 3 TDs to open the season, SMU is an offensive blunderbuss,. The ground game is just as dangerous, with Xavier Jones punching it into the end zone six times already.
Meanwhile, Bobcats quarterback Gresch Jensen threw for 394 yards but also added two more picks to his expanding resume of picks in a loss to Wyoming. So far, Jake Spavital’s air raid offense has yielded 10.5 points per game. The Bobcats ain’t ready to claw out of the Sun Belt Basement jus yet.
Georgia State Panthers @ Western Michigan Broncos, Saturday, September 14, 6:00 PM on ESPN+
Panthers may have beaten the Vols, but they’re still a 9.5-dog to the Broncos.
Western Michigan, the Former Group of Five darling, was demolished by Michigan State 51-17 on Week 2. Now they get current (?) G5 Darling Georgia State, who nearly ruined a perfectly nice victory over Tennessee by trading too many haymakers with Furman. The Panthers, who surrendered less than 100 ground yards to Tennessee (with all its SEC strength), allowed more than double that to Furman.
So maybe the Panther defense is still a work in progress. What is working is Dan Ellington behind center – 500 yards and seven TD tosses to open the season. If the defense can put the brakes on Jon Wassink and the Broncos, Georgia State may have the firepower to start the season 3-0.
Texas Southern @ Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, Saturday, September 7, 6:30 PM on ESPN3
Really, Cajuns? Two FCS opponents in a row? TWO?
Man, enjoy your TWO FCS GAMES IN A ROW, Cajuns. I doubt if the rest of us will. ESPN gives the Tigers a 0.6% chance to make it a game. Thanks for that, Cajuns. Jeez.
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.