College Football Rankings, Season Predictions: Sun Belt Spring Version 2022

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Rankings, Season Predictions: Sun Belt Spring Version 2022

College Football Features

College Football Rankings, Season Predictions: Sun Belt Spring Version 2022

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Sun Belt college football rankings and predictions with the realistic best and worst case records and quick analysis – the 2022 spring version.


The Sun Belt just got a whole lot bigger, cooler, and more interesting with a shocking expansion that should take the conference up another level.

FCS powerhouse James Madison gets to join in right away, and Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss were able to leave Conference USA and get in for the 2022 football season.

Here’s the problem – several Sun Belt programs that made strides last year are going to have tougher schedules to deal with. Several teams should be better, but might not have the results to show it.

The rankings are based on how good the teams should be and not the final projected records. Keeping in mind that this all could/might/will change when we make the final calls in August …

2022 College Football Schedules By Teams: All 131 Schools

14
Texas State Bobcats

2020: 2-10  2019: 3-9 2018: 3-9

Can head coach Jake Spavital finally get this dog to hunt? It’s been tough for Texas State to crank up the wins over the last several years, but the offense is loaded with veterans, the quarterback transfers will help.

Layne Hatcher is in from Arkansas State and Dillon Markiewicz is a big option from Syracuse, but the defense has to replace six starters from a group that didn’t do enough last year.

It’s going to take a few upsets to get to six wins, and some of the more winnable-looking games are on the road. It might not be a big winning season quite yet for the program, but it should be a better season.

Realistic Best Case Record: 7-5
Realistic Worst Case Record: 2-10
2022 Texas State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 3-9
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 3-9
Texas State 2021 Final Record: 4-8
Texas State 2022 Schedule

13
ULM Warhawks

2020: 0-10 2019: 5-7 2018: 6-6

There were plenty of good moments last season under Terry Bowden, and there’s plenty of hope for more with everyone expected to be back on offense and more than enough talent returning on defense to improve. The back seven could use a few key spots to be filled, but the team should be better.

And then there’s the schedule that has a likely win over Nicholls, but … at Texas, at Alabama, Louisiana, at Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, at South Alabama, at Army. That’s before November. There will be a few wins, but it’s going to be a fight to get anywhere near six and bowl eligibility.

Realistic Best Case Record: 7-5
Realistic Worst Case Record: 2-10
2022 ULM Prediction, Spring Football Version: 3-9
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 2-10
ULM 2021 Final Record: 4-8
ULM 2022 Schedule

12
Old Dominion Monarchs

2020: 0-0 2019: 1-11 2018: 4-8

After a bowl season and with a big bounceback from not being able to play in 2020, Old Dominion is looking up, at least offensively. Just about all of the key parts are back on the O, but the defense has to replace a slew of starters in the back seven. Overall, though, the team’s depth is there.

It’s going to be a rough start to the schedule, and it doesn’t get a whole lot easier in the switch to the Sun Belt with road games at Coastal Carolina, Appalachia State, and Georgia State. It’s going to be a fight to get back to six wins and a bowl.

Realistic Best Case Record: 7-5
Realistic Worst Case Record: 2-10
2022 Old Dominion Prediction, Spring Football Version: 4-8
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 3-9
Old Dominion 2021 Final Record: 6-7
Old Dominion 2022 Schedule

11
James Madison Dukes

2020: 7-1 2019: 14-2 2018: 9-4

James Madison fans – and the entire program – couldn’t be more jacked to be up in the FBS world competing right away in the new-look Sun Belt. The defense loses a ton of talent from last year’s strong team, but the depth should be good enough to rise up.

The offensive side is loaded up front and has enough parts to rock if Colorado State transfer QB Todd Centeio can, at least, push for the job.

The Dukes should get off to a decent start, but they’ll have just enough tough games to keep from having a monster year. There’s enough there, though, to push for six wins or a winning season, but they’re not eligible in the transition to go bowling this year.

Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Realistic Worst Case Record: 3-9
2022 James Madison Prediction, Spring Football Version: 5-7
James Madison 2021 Final Record: 12-2
James Madison 2022 Schedule

10
South Alabama Jaguars

2020: 4-7 2019: 2-10 2018: 3-9

After a nice step forward last year – the Jaguars have improved in each of the last three seasons – there’s a chance to make a bigger splash on offense with almost everyone of note returning on offense but star WR Jalen Tolbert. Yeah, losing Tolbert is massive, and missing six starters on defense could be a problem until the midway point of the season.

There’s a game against Nicholls to tune up, but it’s going to be rocky without any sure-thing wins the rest of the way. There will be enough wins in the 50/50 games to make it a good year, but not enough of them to bust through to bowl eligibility.

Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Realistic Worst Case Record: 3-9
2022 South Alabama Prediction, Spring Football Version: 5-7
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 4-8
South Alabama 2021 Final Record: 5-7
South Alabama 2022 Schedule

9
Arkansas State Red Wolves

2020: 4-7 2019: 8-5 2018: 8-5

It was a rough run for Butch Jones in 2021, but he’s got enough experience returning to be better. The depth needs to emerge and more playmakers have to take over, but the offensive skill parts are fine and the starting 11 on D should be better after a few disastrous seasons.

There’s one game of warm-up against Grambling State, and then come the road trips to Ohio State and Memphis. However, outside of a trip to Louisiana, the rest of the schedule is manageable with no Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, or Marshall.

Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Realistic Worst Case Record: 5-7
2022 Arkansas State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 6-6
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 6-6
Arkansas State 2021 Final Record: 2-10
Arkansas State 2022 Schedule

8
Georgia Southern Eagles

2020: 8-5 2019: 7-6 2018: 10-3

New head coach Clay Helton should turn this all around fast. He’s had enough time to get things together, and he’s not missing a whole lot of parts from last year’s disappointing 3-9 team.

Start with a veteran offensive front with more options, and keep on going with a defense that should be stronger with nine starters expected to be back.

Here’s the problem – at Nebraska, at UAB, at Coastal Carolina, at Georgia State. That’s all in the first half of the season, and the campaign closes with at Louisiana, Marshall, Appalachian State. The Eagles will be better, but the team will have to fight to go bowling.

Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Realistic Worst Case Record: 3-9
2022 Georgia Southern Prediction, Spring Football Version: 5-7
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 7-5
Georgia Southern 2021 Final Record: 3-9
Georgia Southern 2022 Schedule

7
Southern Miss Golden Eagles

2020: 3-7 2019: 7-6 2018: 6-5

There’s hope after a disastrous season. There’s some help from the transfer portal to go along with a whole lot of returning experience and depth. The skill parts are all in place, and the defensive back eight should be stronger. Now everyone needs to be better with the switch over to the Sun Belt.

It might take a little while to get the season going with Liberty and at Miami to start, but there’s a run of four straight games against teams that didn’t go bowling and enough winnable games overall to get over 2021 with a bowl run.

Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Realistic Worst Case Record: 4-8
2022 Southern Miss Prediction, Spring Football Version: 6-6
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 7-5
Southern Miss 2021 Final Record: 3-9
Southern Miss 2022 Schedule

6
Troy Trojans

2020: 5-6 2019: 5-7 2018: 10-3

New head coach Jon Sumrall has a team full of experience to work with. There should still be a few depth chart battles through the fall, but for the most part the offense is loaded with most of the key parts from last year, and the defensive side should have around nine starters back.

The first wave of games will be a fight – at Ole Miss, at Appalachian State, Marshall, at WKU as four of the first five – and going to Louisiana and facing Army will be a problem. However, there’s too much experience to not push for at least six wins and a bowl.

Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Realistic Worst Case Record: 4-8
2022 Troy Prediction, Spring Football Version: 6-6
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 6-6
Troy 2021 Final Record: 5-7
Troy 2022 Schedule

5
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

2020: 11-1 2019: 5-7 2018: 5-7

It’s going to take a little work. Losing TE Isaiah Likely is a killer, and the receiving corps is undergoing an overhaul, but QB Grayson McCall is back and the system should keep working if the O line comes together right away. The defense that loses eight starters is the bigger problem.

The schedule, though, should help with a more-than-manageable first half of the season before dealing with the big dates late. However, Army, at Marshall, Appalachian State, at Virginia, at Georgia State – there are just enough tough games to expect a step back.

Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Realistic Worst Case Record: 6-6
2022 Coastal Carolina Prediction, Spring Football Version: 8-4
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 10-2
Coastal Carolina 2021 Final Record: 11-2
Coastal Carolina 2022 Schedule

4
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

2020: 10-1 2019: 11-3 2018: 7-7

New head coach Michael Desormeaux has the parts back to keep it all going. The offense loses QB Levi Lewis and excellent tackle Max Mitchell, but just about everyone else from last year’s 13-win team is back on O, and the D is expected to have around seven starters back.

There isn’t a sure-thing loss on the slate with the potential exception of at Florida State in late November – and even that’s going to be interesting.

It’s asking a whole lot for the Ragin’ Cajuns to be as dominant as they’ve been over the last few seasons, but the schedule is easy enough to at least be in the Sun Belt title mix.

Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Realistic Worst Case Record: 6-6
2022 Louisiana Prediction, Spring Football Version: 9-3
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 8-4
Louisiana 2021 Final Record: 13-1
Louisiana 2022 Schedule

3
Georgia State Panthers

2020: 6-4 2019: 7-6 2018: 2-10

Look out. Just about everyone is expected to be back on defense, the offense has almost all of the key parts back, and the depth is there to make a big push in the Sun Belt.

There hasn’t been much activity in the transfer portal yet, but as long as this current group stays relatively in place – and maybe with an addition or two, there’s a lot to like.

And then there’s the schedule. At South Carolina, North Carolina Coastal Carolina, at Army, at Appalachian State, at Marshall. Those are the big battles on the slate, and the Panthers are good enough to win a slew of them, but it’s going to be a fight to push past the eight wins of last year.

Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Realistic Worst Case Record: 6-6
2022 Georgia State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 7-5
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 5-7
Georgia State 2021 Final Record: 8-5
Georgia State 2022 Schedule

2
Appalachian State Mountaineers

2020: 9-3 2019: 13-1 2018: 11-2

The Mountaineers got hammered by key losses to the receiving corps, but the offensive line should once again be great and the ground attack will be a problem for the Sun Belt. The secondary takes the biggest hit on defense, but the front seven should be okay.

It’ll be be a tough start with North Carolina and at Texas A&M right away, but they should go on a roll up until a road game at Coastal Carolina. It might be hard to get back to last year’s ten-win season, but they should get close.

Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Realistic Worst Case Record: 7-5
2022 Appalachian State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 9-3
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 10-2
Appalachian State 2021 Final Record: 10-4
Appalachian State 2022 Schedule

1
Marshall Thundering Herd

2020: 7-3 2019: 8-5 2018: 9-4

After a rocky year – at least for Marshall – the offense should be stronger if Utah State/Texas Tech transfer Henry Colombi can rise up at quarterback. The rest of the skill parts are solid, and the transfer portal should help the defensive front and secondary.

The new world in the Sun Belt should be interesting. There’s an early non-conference game at Notre Dame, but the overall schedule isn’t bad with all the big league games – Louisiana, Georgia State, Appalachian State, and Coastal Carolina – at home.

Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Realistic Worst Case Record: 6-6
2022 Marshall Prediction, Spring Football Version: 9-3
CFN 2021 Spring Prediction: 9-3
Marshall 2021 Final Record: 7-6
Marshall 2022 Schedule

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