Absorb these predictions and assume the opposite
Before we begin with the penetrating Week 8 insight, I invite you to check out these totally ridiculous Sun Belt standings, currently under observation by top physicists at Stanford.
|SBC West||Conf Record||SBC East||Conf Record|
|South Bama||2-0||Old Dominion||2-0|
|Texas State||1-2||Georgia Southern||1-2|
|Arkansas State||1-3||Appalachian St||1-2|
Honestly, how we’ve managed to avoid subatomic electron displacement is a mystery to me. Louisiana and Texas State knotted in a tie? Appalachian State and Marshall occupying the basement of the SBC East? Old Dominion the East’s frontrunner? What is this magic?
Wednesday, October 19
Georgia State at Appalachian State, 6:30 P.M., ESPN2
There is no better time for the Panthers to upended the Mountaineers in the hilltropolis of Boone than on Wednesday, where Georgia State will face an Appalachian State team currently questioning the fundamental laws of the Sun Belt universe. As head coach Shawn Clark and quarterback Chase Brice struggle with the painful reality of having been trounced by Texas State, the Panthers enter the game cocky after having crushed their psychological rival Georgia Southern.
Vegas Says: -10 Mountaineers
Howlraiser Says: Even under normal circumstances, it’s no fun to visit Boone. If the team isn’t demoralized, then Clark is likely pretty steamed about that loss to the Bobcats. Both the Panthers and Mountaineers arrive to the gridiron well rested from a Week 7 bye, but expect Appalachian State to be focused by pain, and the Panthers to be defeated by victory.
Thursday, October 20
Troy at South Alabama, 6:30 P.M., ESPNU
Two midweek Sun Belt games? Why not push the Earth into a blackhole and be done with it? Anyway, what was once a mildly amusing rivalry has become the very nexus tethering the Sun Belt West to relevance. The Trojans and Jaguars stand atop the standings with only a freak Hail Mary and a catastrophic trick play preventing this from being a battle of ranked undefeated foes. Between the Jaguars 28th ranked offense and Troy’s 32nd ranked defense, it’s difficult not to see this contest as the Sun Belt Game of the Week.
Vegas Says: -3 Jaguars
Howlraiser Says: Those three points are likely for the home field advantage South Alabama enjoys. However, ULM exposed a few vulnerabilities in the Jaguars defense, and with Gunnar Watson healthy and back under center for Troy, the temptation to pick the mild Trojan upset is great.
Saturday, October 22
ULM at Army, 11:00 A.M., CBS Sports Network
Hasn’t Army endured enough painful lessons from the Sun Belt? Apparently not! The Warhawks are the latest to deliver a sonic blast of Sun Belt Heat to the Black Knights, who’ve already fallen to Coastal Carolina and Georgia State earlier this season. Once Army plays Troy later in the year, their contract affirming them as Sun Belt Punching Bag expires.
Vegas Says: -7 Black Knights
Howlraiser Says: At the risk of having our legs broken, we have to disagree with Vegas. The Warhawks rush defense isn’t that horrible, and that Chandler Rogers-led offense is capable of putting up points. Go ahead and roll the 12-sided dice for ULM.
Marshall at James Madison, 2:30 P.M., ESPN Plus
Five weeks ago, this looked like a battle for the Sun Belt East. Now its a get-well game for the Dukes, who received a humbling from Georgia Southern last week. Thanks to injuries sustained by starter Henry Columbi, the quarterback situation at Marshall is expected to be a dual-position with Cam Fancher subbing in when coach Charles Huff deems it necessary. Meanwhile, the Dukes have no evident plans to futz with a working formula – Eagles loss or not.
Vegas Says: -13 Dukes
Howlraiser Says: If you can pass, and if you can withstand a pass rush, you can hurt James Madison. Unfortunately, the Thundering Herd is far too grounded (112th passing offense) to do enough damage to the Dukes. Go with the Dukes and the points.
Georgia Southern at Old Dominion, 2:30 P.M., ESPN Plus
I liked the Eagles, then they got beat by Georgia State. I disliked the Eagles, then they beat James Madison. Now Clay Helton and his prolific pass offense visits first place Old Dominion, who put and whooping so bad on Coastal it put Jamey Chadwell’s mullet out of business in the back and the front. The Monarchs bend-don’t-break, take-away defense will be an interesting challenge for two time offensive SBC player of the week Kyle Vantrease.
Vegas Says: -2 Monarchs
Howlraiser Says: ODU gets the home field nod from Vegas, and the Monarchs are pretty tough in Norfolk. But there’s something upsetting about that Eagles’ offense. Old Dominion gives up more passing yards than anyone in the Sun Belt. We see the Eagles continuing to edit the script in the Sun Belt East.
Arkansas State at Louisiana, 4:00 P.M., ESPN Plus
How often can you say a team is “getting better” despite witnessing loss-after-loss? The answer may be “infinite,” as the Red Wolves are statistically a better team, but without the victories to serve as the proof points. Meanwhile, the Cajuns showed some life during a win in Huntington, thought that signature Louisiana run game seems to be permanently milk cartoned in 2022.
Vegas Says: -6.5 Cajuns
Howlraiser Says: Statistically, Ben Woodridge has played better than Chandler Fields and one wonders if head coach Mike Desormeaux will finally just hand the huddle over to Woodridge. Meanwhile, starting running back Chris Smith is battling a hamstring injury, weakening a run game that was already ranked 104th in the nation. Does this mean the Red Wolves win? Perhaps if the game were only four quarters.
Southern Miss at Texas State, 4:00 P.M., ESPN Plus
Offensively, Southern Miss is a hot mess, with nobody cemented at the QB position and its fortunes determined by Frank Gore Jr.’s ability to beat the opponents run defense. Defensively, the Golden Eagles have capabilities, which will come in handy at San Marcos, where the Bobcats have just been validated by an upset over Appalachian State and a competitive road loss to Troy.