Tuesday, August 1, 2017

College Football: Season Predictions: The Sun Belt Conference

Few people actually pay much attention to the Sun Belt, or any other Group of Five conference for that matter, but they should.  Over the years the league has worked hard to develop their "Fun Belt" brand through use of the spread offense and a willingness to play football on any day of the week in order to get on TV.

This year they have the added benefit of having some legitimately good teams on the roster.

The conference plays without divisions so they have no championship game.

Here's my prediction for how the season is going to go:

Conference Standings:
Overall Conference
Teams (No divisions) W L W L
Appalachian State 11 1 8 0
Troy 9 3 7 1
Arkansas State 9 3 7 1
Louisiana 7 5 6 2
South Alabama 6 6 5 3
Georgia Southern 6 6 4 4
Georgia State 5 7 3 5
Coastal Carolina 5 7 3 5
New Mexico State 2 10 2 6
ULM 2 10 2 6
Idaho 1 11 1 7
Texas State 1 11 0 8
Bowl Teams: 6
CFP: None
Big Six None
CFP 2: None
Big Six 2: None
Others: Appalachian State
Arkansas State
South Alabama
Georgia Southern
Most Underrated: South Alabama
Most Overrated: Georgia State
Coaches on Hot Seat: Everyone except App State, Troy and Arkansas State

Not only do they have a clear "best team" in my opinion but they have a definite bottom rung to the conference as well.

Appalachian State should be loaded. QB Taylor Lamb leads an offense that also has star running back (and NFL prospect) Jalin Moore and they also return quality back-up RB Terrence Upshaw. That's a powerful 1-2 punch behind an experienced offensive line which should lead the Mountaineers to wins in every game except their visit to Athens.

Troy and Arkansas State all have enough returning pieces to come in second, with Arkansas State winning the tie-breaker IMO due to the fact that they get the Trojans at home. After that Louisiana (Lafayette) should be good enough to make a bowl game, as should two underrated teams in Georgia Southern and South Alabama.

Coastal Carolina will just fall short, and I think Georgia State is overrated by most and will finish at 5-7 as well. After that it becomes pretty desolate for the league. New Mexico State, Louisiana-Monroe, Idaho and Texas State are all going to be pretty pathetic, In fact, I had to struggle to find a win at all for what I expect to be a bottom 10 Texas State team.

If bigger schools try and poach coaches from the top of the league, you could see a lot of turnover because the schools at the bottom are going to be pretty brutal.

OPOY: Jalin Moore (App State)
DPOY: Eric Boggs (App State)
COY: Scott Satterfield (App State)

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