The Sun Belt slate looks light, but the ramifications are very heavy.
The Silly Season of COVID-19 has not only made everything stupid, but has also made every game vitally important. Who knows when you’ll play again? Or if? The forecast is murky with a 100% chance of something’s gonna screw everything up. And it doesn’t even have to be a pandemic.
For example, Hurricane Delta has postponed the conference’s marquee match-up between Louisiana and Coastal Carolina, two 3-0 teams that, quite frankly, are fun to watch. That leaves us three games for Saturday. On the surface, none look especially appetizing.
Luckily, Sun Belt Heat digs deep beneath the surface! As it turns out, every Sun Belt team playing on Saturday is in a must win situation. That alone is reason enough to shovel a load of coal into your ESPN3 machine.
ULM @ Liberty, 11:00 AM on ESPN2
I guess we have Hugh Freeze to thank for this national TV placement, because not even the most coked-out media buyer would spend a cent on the Warhawks this season. Matt Viator’s team is winless and punchless, averaging a measly 15 points per contest.
WHY THE GAME IS ESSENTIAL: Viator (and maybe everybody in Monroe) is coaching for his job right now, and the Warhawks are among the few SBC programs without a solid OOC showing. A win over Liberty isn’t exactly a win over LSU, but ULM is desperate for something to go right this season.
Texas State @ Troy, 2:30 on ESPN3
What to make of either of these teams? The last we saw the Bobcats, they had Boston College on the ropes, only to see their two-touchdown lead disappear late in the game. Last we checked in on Troy, they were being obliterated by BYU. Both might be better than their records, but I don’t really know.
WHY THE GAME IS ESSENTIAL: The Trojans felt pretty good about themselves after smashing Middle Tennessee. Now they probably question the very nature of their existence. Same can be said for the Bobcats, who are much improved and yet still losing games. Whoever wins gets a jolt of self-worth.
Central Arkansas @ Arkansas State, 3:30 on ESPN3
Between a long COVID-19 layoff, the Red Wolves went from Wildcat killer to chicken feed thanks to a shellacking from Coastal Carolina. Now they host UCA, ranked 11th in the FCS and the author of Arkansas State’s ultimate misery – a 28-23 loss in 2016 that haunts the Red Wolves every waking, sleeping, and drunken moment.
WHY THE GAME IS ESSENTIAL: Everybody likes an in-state donnybrook, and the Red Wolves have a big fat purple bear to get off their backs. A second loss to UCA would be viewed quite dimly in Jonesboro. Quite. Dimly.
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.