Sun Belt Macabre: Lessons Learned from Week 9

The SBC is weirder than ever, but contenders are starting to reveal themselves

In a normal, stable universe, Appalachian State and Louisiana lead their respective Sun Belt divisions, both are snuggly ranked by the AP Top 25 and everybody is saying things like, “Give JMU a few years to adjust.”

Not so in our weirdo reality! Here, the Cajuns are looking up at Southern Miss, Appalachian State is stuck in the middle of the East and the Red Wolves are in last place (as expected). But after nine weeks of football, we’re beginning to see where this hallucinatory strangescape is taking us.

Southern Miss Is Your Unlikely SBC West Contender

After relying on a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks for victories, the Golden Eagles demolished the defending champion Cajuns on a Thursday night, led by freshman QB Zach Wilcke whose confidence is gradually growing. Is Southern Miss for reals? The defensive front line certainly is.

The Panthers Are Dead But They’re Alive, Too

Georgia State has two impressive victories over Georgia Southern and Old Dominion. Georgia State also has a number of puzzling losses. So are they contenders or not? The victory over the Monarchs felt more like a Shawn Elliot victory, with lots of physical play at the line of scrimmage and 100 yards rushing from the quarterback, Darren Grainger. The Panthers may have stepped on the gas too late to win the East (2-2 in conference), but winning 3 of the last four to gain a bowl bid is still a possibility.

The Chanticleers Cock-a-Doodled Themselves Up

Coastal Carolina used the bye-week to knock out a couple thousand hate push-ups while watching tape of that blowout loss to Old Dominion. The result was an impressive first quarter offensively against Marshall – 21 points. And an impressive four quarters of defense, shutting down Marshall to just 87 rushing yards. Here’s the rub, though: the Chants put up just 271 yards of offense on the Thundering Herd, the majority of which came in the first quarter. Is Coastal Carolina awake, or are they still sleepwalking through the season? Regardless, the Chanticleers find themselves all alone atop the SBC East standings.