Sun Belt Heat Week 12: Knockout
Time for some of y’all to hit the canvas.
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Literally and pragmatically, roughly half the Sun Belt field is playing solely for life’s most valuable coin: pride. Go get that pride! Everybody else wants that Sun Belt hardware.
In the East, Georgia State and Georgia Southern did Appalachian State a solid by falling to conference opponents, giving the Mountaineers a nice one-game cushion while enjoying the Sun Belt’s first ever College Football Playoff ranking.
Out West, Louisiana enjoys the same one-game buffer with Arkansas State and ULM. The Cajuns finish the season hosting Troy and ULM and get a road game against the conference’s cadaver, South Alabama, this week. In summation, four teams are looking at one of two teams to “F” up. That’s the analysis, people. It’s all I got.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (4-5) @ Arkansas State Red Wolves (5-4), Thursday, November 16, 2:00 PM on ESPN+
Red Wolves get the 12.5-point home advantage
After the Chants dusted Kansas and finished the non-con with a 3-1 record, if felt like Coastal Carolina was positioned to make the East a more interesting division. One conference win later, it’s clear that the East is interesting enough and the Chanticleers are still a baseball school, despite getting a solid year from RB C.J. Marable. Red Wolves are on a two-game win streak, is second only to Troy in passing offense and will enter Saturday’s game rested from the Bye. Unless the Chants do something weird – like field 11 Love Boat guest stars or trick the Red Wolves into subscribing to three years of Disney+ – Arkansas State should out-muscle Coastal Carolina.
VERDICT: Red Wolves flex
ULM Warhawks (4-5) @ Georgia Southern (5-4), Thursday, November 16, 2:00 PM on ESPN+
Eagles are chosen by a higher power to win by 7
This isn’t the O’Doul’s “Maintain Your Edge” Game of the Week, but damn it’s sobering and refreshing. Warhawks like to pile on points and yards, courtesy of Caleb Evan’s arm and leg. The Eagles aren’t much for points this season, but they do boast the nation’s 11th best rushing offense (behind Louisiana and Georgia State) and have overcome a sluggish start to remain in contention in the East. However, Georgia Southern is coming off a crummy loss to Troy, who boasts a similar high power offense. The Warhawks won’t stop the Eagles on the ground very often – but a couple stops might be all ULM needs.
VERDICT: Warhawks slip in a win
Troy Trojans (3-5) @ Texas State Bobcats (3-6), Saturday, November 16, 2:00 PM on ESPN3
Eagles by a field goal
Man, Troy has sucked all year. Yet they delivered a flying elbow to the Eagles last week, so maybe the Trojan defense has finally caught up to Kaleb Barker and the offense. Even if it hasn’t, don’t expect too much fight from the Bobcats, who is offensively challenged and will likely throw more picks that TD passes on Saturday.
VERDICT: Troy slobberknocks the Bobcats
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns (7-2) @ South Alabama Jaguars (1-8), Saturday, November 16, 4:00 PM on ESPN+
Cajuns by 28 spicy points
This might be the worst game in the world.
VERDICT: Cajuns up by 28 after 1Q
O’Doul’s “Maintain Your Edge” Sun Belt Game of the Week
#25 Appalachian State Mountaineers (9-1) @ Georgia State Panthers (6-3), Saturday, November 16, 6:30 PM on ESPNU
The Mountaineers have the 16.5-point Edge
After becoming the highest ranked Sun Belt team ever by the AP, the Mountaineers followed it up by breaking into the “poll that matters,” the College Football Playoff Committee Poll. Two Power Five victories on the road and a stranglehold on a division will get you that. Meanwhile, the Panthers pretty much sapped the chill out of the O’Doul’s here by 1) losing to ULM and 2) losing dual-threat QB Dan Ellington for “an undisclosed amount of time.” Georgia State’s defense is ranked 116th in the nation. With Ellington, the Panthers might have traded scores and maybe received a bit of home magic. Without Ellington, the prognosis is pain.
VERDICT: Mountaineers yodel merrily out of Georgia
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.