Sun Belt Heat Week 5: Coming In Hot
With the non-con slate (mostly) over, the Sun Belt begins conference play with sizzling matchups.
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This week, the Sun Belt releases a full measure of conference heat with three games that will leave a lasting mark on the standings. This fact prompted the following observation from my bruh, David C(lever) Hundley:
The Sun Belt skips the foreplay and dives right into the hunka-chunka. That’s the Sun Belt way. Rip the duct tape right off. No need to let November decide anything. Let’s just see who’s worth a crap now. Hee-haw! The Sun Belt is like a choose-your-own-adventure conference, and we choose the adventure of madness.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (3-1) @ Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-0), Saturday, September 28, 2:30 PM on ESPN+
The Chants are 16-point dogs in Vegas, but a beautiful unicorn in the hearts of all mankind
When Coastal opened the season with a loss to Eastern Michigan, everyone (me) was like, “Eh, same old Chants, eh?” Except, the very next week, the Chanticleers made Les Miles eat more than just grass with a win over Kansas, then proceeded to pound out two more wins by averaging 54 points per game. CJ Marable leads the team in both receiving and rushing, underscoring the bizarre nature of Coastal, a team nobody attempts to understand less they risk unbuckling the moorings of their own fragile sanity.
Counter-balanced to all of the Chants’ whimsey, the Mountaineers – who are content to pound opponents with size, depth, talent, speed and surging self-confidence. Behind the might of running back Darrynton Evans, the Mounts have averaged more points (44) than any team in the nation save 12. Don’t be surprised if Coastal head coach Jamey Chadwell puts every-and-anything on the field to stop the Mountaineers – wizards, oil slicks, crystals, whatever.
O’Doul’s “Maintain Your Edge” Sun Belt Game of the Week
Arkansas State Red Wolves (2-2) @ Troy Trojans (2-1), Saturday, September 28, 5:00 PM on ESPN+
Troy has the 6.5 Edge
Over the last two weeks, the Red Wolves have lost their leading defensive back (Jerry Jacobs) their starting running back (Marcel Murray), their back-up running back (Ryan Graham) and a starting defensive tackle (Kevin Thurmon). Murray may be back to suit up against Troy, and Thurmon (broken hand) will come back in about a month. But Jacobs and Graham are done for the season. Oh yeah, and then there’s this great news about starting QB Logan Bonner:
Meanwhile, Troy lost preseason Sun Belt Offensive POY BJ Smith in the shootout with Southern Miss, but backup DJ Billingsly seems up to the challenge, racking up 100 yards on the Zips last Saturday. Troy can score, whether on the ground with Billingsley or through the air with Kaleb Barker. The Trojan weakness (besides big wooden gifts): the pass defense. Troy is surrendering a sexy 270 passing yards per game.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (3-1) @ Georgia Southern Eagles (1-2), Saturday, September 28, 5:00 PM on ESPN+
Cajuns are a spicy 3.5 favorite
I have to issue a formal apology to the Ragin’ Cajuns: I accused them of playing two FCS teams two weeks in a row. I totally forgot that Liberty made the leap to the G5! You’d think a man with his fingers held firm on the pulse of college football would know such essential information.
So yeah, Cajuns spent two weeks beating up Liberty and Texas Southern before also beating up the Ohio Bobcats in Week 4. Louisiana head coach Billy Napier is getting the most out of his run game, headlined by Elijah Mitchell and Trey Regas. But QB Levi Lewis is playing well, too, limiting mistakes to just two picks and making a stud out of Ja’Marcus Bradley (330 yards, 3 TDs).
Meanwhile in Statesboro, the Eagles are entering the game with a losing record buuuuut they finally looked competitive in Week 4 against Minnesota, nearly pulling off the Vegas upset. Starting QB Shai Werts is still banged up, but Chad Lunsford is hoping to see his multi-purpose stud suit up for the Cajuns – who are still somewhat defensively challenged (64th in total D).
South Alabama Jaguars (1-3) @ ULM Warhawks (1-2), Saturday, September 28, 6:00 PM on ESPN+
Warhawks by 16-points, which is seven more points than the Jags have scored in two weeks
Since upending Jackson State in Week 2, the Jags anemic offense has totaled nine lousy points the last two games. NINE! South Bama never looked competitive versus Memphis or UAB. Starting QB Cephus Johnson left the game after the first quarter against the Blazers, and Tylan Morton stepped in to finish 3/5 for seven yards. SEVEN!
ULM is coming off a 72-20 jaw-breaker to Iowa State, a disappointing outing after nearly thwarting Florida State the week before. Still, Caleb Evans is secretly one of the better signal callers in the Sun Belt, and while the Warhawks defense is still awful (127th for total D), Matt Viator should have enough warm bodies to keep the Jags in single digits. Again.
Nicholls Colonels @ Texas State Bobcats, Saturday, September 28, 6:00 PM on ESPN+
Rivalry is the winner here, guys
Hey, so, apparently the Colonels and Bobcats have had beef for some time, culminating with this mysterious exchange earlier this week:
Listen, Texas State had just better beat Nicholls, okay?
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.