Pump the Bellows! Sun Belt looks to raise the temperature

NEW ORLEANS - JULY 27: Photos of th 2022 Sun Belt Conference Football Media Days at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel on July 27, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Sun Belt takes on four ranked teams in Week 2

The Sun Belt finished Week 1 an even-Steven seven-and-seven and firmly established a few high profile OOC rivalries in the bargain – namely the Monarchs versus Virginia Tech and the Mountaineers versus North Carolina. Week 2 offers even more opportunity for glory – and utter destruction! Naturally, it behooves us to avoid the latter.

Arkansas State at #3 Ohio State, 11:00 AM, Big 10 Network

The first of three 11AM Sun Belt games of Week 2 is also the game with the nation’s largest spread at -43 in favor of the home team. The Buckeyes sport a roster of future NFL players, including a leading Heisman candidate in CJ Stroud. The Red Wolves bring the confidence that comes with a complete W1 thumping of Grambling State and a quarterback (James Blackman) who leads the nation in QB rating.

VEGAS SAYS: 43.5 Buckeyes
HOWLRAISER SAYS: After struggling to put up points on Notre Dame, Ohio State may be tempted to light the board up against Arkansas State.

Southern Miss at #15 Miami (not Ohio), 11 AM, ACC Network

The Sun Belt was a nightmare for the ACC in W1, and Southern Miss could very well provide a sleepless evening for the Hurricane, too. The Golden Eagles played Liberty well in W1, placekicking notwithstanding, and Frank Gore was incredible with 32 carries for 178 yards and a pair of TDs.

VEGAS SAYS: -24.5 Hurricane
HOWLRAISER SAYS: I kinda like Southern Miss, even if they didn’t have the skills to close out Liberty. Take them points.

North Carolina at Georgia State, 11 AM, ESPNU

The Panthers left the offense in Atlanta for W1 versus the Cock Commanders, which means they should be plenty rested on Saturday for the Tar Heels, who visit their second Sun Belt venue in as many weeks. North Carolina gave up 61 points to Appalachian State, which is good news for Georgia State QB Darren Grainger, who looks to improve on that 7/29 performance against South Carolina.

VEGAS SAYS: -7.5 Tar Heels
HOWLRAISER SAYS: I need to see more accuracy from Grainger before I’d feel confident picking the Panthers.

South Alabama at Central Michigan, 12 PM, ESPN+

The Jaguars reward for destroying Nicholls 48-7 in W1 is to be labeled an underdog to Central Michigan in W2. The Chippewas enormous 6’10” QB Daniel Richardson put up 424 yards and 4 TDs against #12 Oklahoma last week, so I suspect Vegas is having trouble looking past that.

VEGAS SAYS: -5 Chips
HOWLRAISER SAYS: Who knows how Central Michigan feels after exchanging roundhouses with Oklahoma? I’d stay away from this.

Marshall at #8 Notre Dame, 1:30 PM, NBC/Peacock

The Thundering Herd looked pretty good without Rasheed Ali against Norfolk in W1, with Ethan Payne and Khalan Laborn both rushing for 100 yards and scoring two touchdowns apiece. Now they get The Irish coming off a defeat against Ohio State and looking to claw their way back to the Playoff conversation.

VEGAS SAYS: -20.5 Irish
HOWLRAISER SAYS: Take them points!

Appalachian State at #6 Texas A&M, 2:30 PM, ESPN2

The Mountaineers offensive was a howitzer against North Carolina in W1, but the defense surrendered more than 560 yards. Does Appalachian State have a flaw in the backfield? I can’t remember the last time the Mountaineers opened the season 0-2 (mostly because I haven’t bothered with research), but here we are standing on that precipice.

VEGAS SAYS: -19 Aggies
HOWLRAISER SAYS: Despite the questions on App’s defense, that line looks a little fat to me.

Norfolk State at James Madison, 3:00 PM, ESPN3

Didn’t Norfolk learn their lesson against Marshall? I guess not!

HOWLRAISER SAYS: Is there such a thing as a letdown game after playing Middle Tennessee? Dukes will conduct the science.

Old Dominion at East Carolina, 5:00 PM, ESPN+

Two tormentors of the ACC square off, with East Carolina most recently dropping a heartbreaker to North Carolina State 21-10 and the Monarchs unceremoniously dispatching Virginia Tech 21-17. Old Dominion quarterback Hayden Wolfe struggled last Saturday, and the goings get tougher against a defense that forced two turnovers on #13 Wolf Pack.

VEGAS SAYS: -12.5 Pirates
HOWLRAISER SAYS: While the Old Dominion offense looks meek, that defense isn’t bad at all. I’d be tempted to take them points.

Gardner-Webb at Coastal Carolina, 5:00 PM, ESPN +

Do the Chants ever leave Conway?

HOWLRAISER SAYS: Unless Army thoroughly wore out Grayson McCall and the Chanticleers, I wouldn’t worry about Coastal.

Eastern Michigan at Louisiana, 6:00 PM, NFL Network

The nation is spared the sight of the Eagles awful gray and dark gray turf when the Cajuns host Eastern Michigan. Last year, the Eagles played Texas State in one of the worst games of football ever played in the United States. The Cajuns stand to make the quality of play a little better, with new head coach Mike Desormeaux getting his first FBS test.

VEGAS SAYS: -11.5 Cajuns
HOWLRAISER SAYS: Louisiana didn’t exactly disintegrate SE Louisiana last week, so take the win, but maybe not the points.

Alabama A&M at Troy, 6:00PM, ESPN 3

Troy gets to decide of Gunnar Watson is still the guy behind center.

HOWLRAISER SAYS: Troy gets a breather after a bruising game with Ole Miss.

Florida International at Texas State, 6:00PM, ESPN+

New Bobcat quarterback Layne Hatcher still looked new in a dismal loss against Nevada, tossing a pair of interceptions, including the dreaded Pick 6. Texas State gets to rebound in San Marcos against FIU, who are still high on the thrill of beating FCS Bryant by one point in W1.

VEGAS SAYS: -14 Bobcats
HOWLRAISER SAYS: That line sounds about right, but the Bobcats have my confidence shook.

Georgia Southern at Nebraska, 6:30PM, FS1

Man, what a great time to get Nebraska, right? In case you don’t follow the Big 10 (understandable), the Cornhuskers lost to Northwestern to open the season, then found themselves tied 7-7 with North Dakota at halftime in W2. Meanwhile, Georgia Southern’s Kyle Vantrease threw for 367 yards and 4 TDs, a quarterback line Eagles’ fans have rarely ever seen. 

VEGAS SAYS: -23.5 Cornhuskers
HOWLRAISER SAYS: That’s an awful lot of Vegas confidence in a team that’s ready to throw Scott Frost into another solar system.

Nicholls at ULM, 7:00PM, ESPN3

You better win this, Warhawks.

HOWLRAISER SAYS: There’s not a lot of Ws on the Warhawks’ schedule. I doubt it Terry Bowden allows this opportunity to trickle by.