Week 12 Lessons for the Sun Belt

I don’t think I’m being too presumptuous by saying the majority of us looked at Coastal Carolina through a lens tinted with envy. Only recently elevated to FBS status, the Chanticleers represented the Sun Belt on the AP Top 25 for well over a season and a half – not to mention achieving the conference’s highest ever College Football Playoff ranking.

Coastal Carolina, a tune-up win for several seasons, suddenly found themselves the darling of the Group of Five, charming national pundits with their disgusting teal gridiron and hillbilly haircuts. Grayson McCall, the QB who found instant success as a freshman became the Sun Belt’s most bankable commodity. It is no wonder that many within the Sun Belt orbit took both secret and public pleasure in Coastal Carolina’s defeat at the hands of the dangerous Georgia State Panthers.

But this is a blow to the Sun Belt. For the first time since October 19, 2020, the Chants do not appear on the AP Top 25. The run is over. The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns climb up a few spots to 22, and that’s terrific, but the conference’s most popular brand is now regulated to the Phantom Zone. Placing two programs in the poll was quite the feather in the Sun Belt’s cap. It’s over now. Thanks a whole bunch, Panthers.

The Cajuns Continue to Pound Opponents with Boring Business-like Efficiency

One wonders if the College Football Playoff Committee would pay more attention to the Cajuns had Billy Napier made more footstools of his opponents. As it stands, Louisiana appears to be a program that prefers to conserve its energy, dispatching foes with what seems like the bare minimum of effort. The Cajuns joyless handled Troy 35-21 on Saturday, continuing to roll over the Sun Belt without bulging any eyeballs whatsoever.

The Red Wolves Beat the Warhawks for the 12th Time in a Row

ULM needed to win two of its last three to become bowl eligible. One of those three is LSU, which is a tall order for a program that went winless last season. Another was against Arkansas State, who hadn’t won an FBS game all season. However, the Warhawks haven not beaten the Red Wolves since 2010, and why ruin a perfectly good streak? Arkansas State’s defense, which has improved incrementally every game since Georgia Southern in Week 5, played a largely competent game in Monroe, limiting the Warhawks passing game to under 200 yards and collecting a pair of picks, one that sealed the Red Wolves first victory since opening the season with a win over FCS Central Arkansas.

The Mountaineers Showed Their Appreciation for the Panthers by Crushing the Jaguars

Nobody benefited from Coastal’s loss to the Georgia State more than Appalachian State, who celebrated their clear path to the Sun Belt Championship Game by toying with South Alabama for three quarters before rudely shutting the door in the Jags’ face. South Bama is still in need of a victory for bowl eligibility, and gets 5-5 Tennessee next week or Coastal the week after to close the deal. Meanwhile, Appalachian State has played with a workman’s determination since being leveled by the Cajuns’ for their only dominating victory. Troy’s defense will provide some challenge to the Mountaineers next week, but the SBC East belongs to Appalachian State if they want it.

For About Five Minutes, All Ten Sun Belt Football Programs (Plus a Couple Future Sun Belt Programs) Were On The Field at the Same Time

Thanks to some bunchy scheduling, every Sun Belt programs plus Mississippi State, Marshall and Old Dominion, were on the field.