Analysis, Odds, Kickoff Times, Plus & More for This Week’s Sun Belt
Last week determined a great deal for the Sun Belt, albeit unofficially. Coastal Carolina’s trumping of Appalachian State more or less shuts the door on the rest of the SBC East. South Alabama and Troy’s comeback victories proved that both programs had the tough mentality to remain atop the SBC West. These three teams have carved the Sun Belt to their likeness, leaving the shizzle work for the rest of us.
Bowl eligibility is a priority for some. For others, acquiring a scrap of dignity is the only choice on the shelf. Three weeks of regular season football remains. Let’s get after it.
Thursday, November 10
Georgia Southern at Louisiana, 6:30 P.M., ESPN 2
The Eagles are sitting on five wins; the Cajuns have four. Urgency (and home field advantage) favor Louisiana. Both teams suffered the sting of allowing leads against Sun Belt West contenders slip away last week, with both teams strengths exposed in the second half. Again, the prolific offense of Georgia Southern (ranked 18th nationally) is tested by a stout defense – the Cajuns’ D ranks 34th nationally. So who gives?
Vegas Says: -3 Cajuns
Howlraiser Says: Both will be looking for redemption after allowing juicy victories escape their grasp. Louisiana needs this win more than the Eagles – the Cajuns get Florida State next week, and then close out with Texas State. However, Clay Helton has every reason to close out a bowl bid now, on national TV, polishing his resume to become a low-radar candidate for the dozens of plum head coaching job openings already available on LinkedIn. We give the slightest of edges to the Eagles.
Saturday, November 12
ULM at Georgia State, 12:00 P.M., ESPN Plus
Oh look, here comes the Panthers arriving to the party when the keg is burping foam and there’s nothing left on the counter but the veggie platter. That’s so Panthers! Anyway, Georgia State requires a two out of three victory ratio to earn a bowl bid, and the Warhawks are the the most genial of three remaining opponents. Led by running back Marcus Carroll and the quarterback Darren Grainger, Georgia State squeezed 388 yards on a tough Southern Miss front line. Warhawks defense versus the run or the pass? Not good!
Vegas Says: -13.5 Panthers
Howlraiser Says: Yeah, Vegas, I think you got this. ULM increasing the number of dark atoms inside the souls of Texas State fans likely expended all of the Warhawk’s energy.
James Madison at Old Dominion, 12:00 P.M., ESPN Plus
It’s been a long month for Jimmy Mads, who have lost the Sun Belt East lead, their AP ranking, and three straight games since punishing Arkansas State. Honestly, it hasn’t been particularly terrific for the Monarchs either, who have lost three straight since ripping out Coastal Carolina’s heart and filling the empty cavity with hate. Somebody rights a ship on Saturday. It’s not easy to determine who.
Vegas Says: -8 Dukes
Howlraiser Says: Dukes get the nod, primarily because they looked so damn good five victories in the season. But injuries have taken a toll on the Dukes, starting with sapping all the effectiveness from the once terrorizing Todd Centeio. Does this mean I think Old Dominion wins? Nah. But I can see them covering.
UMass at Arkansas State, 2:00 P.M., ESPN 3
My favorite part about UMass is that nobody wants to spell “Massachusetts.” The Minutemen average less than 12 points per game and have one win – over Stoney Brook. Meanwhile, Arkansas State finally received the bye week and the healing powers Coach Butch Jones has ached for all season. The team should be healthy enough to score more than 12 points. Right?
Vegas Says: -17 Red Wolves
Howlraiser Says: Arkansas State hasn’t seen a lot of love from Vegas this season, and seventeen is a big number, but the University of Massachussetss is legit bad. Go ahead. Roll with them Wolves.
Army at Troy, 2:30 P.M., NFL Network
Thanks for being an honorary Sun Belt member, Army! You’re great! The Black Knights put a win on the Sun Belt when last it met, crushing the Warhawks in the second half. Troy, however, isn’t the kind of team that shirks from adversity. Troy only gives up 113 yards on the ground per game, which Army should find dismaying.
Vegas Says: -9 Trojans
Howlraiser Says: Army, who has already lost to Georgias State and Coastal Carolina, isn’t the same Army that rumbled through the college football community a couple seasons ago. It’s possible that Jon Summeral gets sloppy and overlooks the Black Knights on Saturday with an eye on zipping-up the conference title, but we kinda doubt it.
Appalachian State at Marshall, 2:30 P.M., ESPN Plus
Man, after the Mountaineers crushed Texas A&M and the Thundering Herd pounded Notre Dame, many likely looked ahead to this game as one that would decided the SBC East. Those aspirations are gone, but both programs sit on five wins are are seeking bowl eligibility. (NOTE: because both programs scheduled two FCS programs in 2022, both Appalachian State and Marshall require SEVEN victories to be bowl eligible.) Also, both teams pretty much can’t stand one another, so there’s also that. Pop the gourmet stuff for this game.
Vegas Says: -1 Appalachian State
Howlraiser Says: It’s hard to believe that two Sun Belt programs who took down a pair of Top 10 programs on the same day are just now playing for bowl eligibility. The Herd puts up a fierce defense and occasionally kills you with an otherworldly performance from Khalan Laborn. Still, I just can’t believe Chase Brice and Cam Peoples are ready to go down so limply. My sword points to the Mountaineers.
Texas State at South Alabama, 4:00 P.M., ESPN Plus
Somebody check the vitals on the Bobcats. Just look at the scores for the Bobcats’ last three games, all losses: 17-14, 20-14, 31-30. The only thing preventing Texas State fans from slipping into a centuries-long coma are the sinister undertones of this tweet from Texas State system president Kelly Damphousse:
Vegas Says: -16.5 Jaguars
Howlraiser Says: Is Jake Spavital in trouble? Failure to close out narrow games is generally frowned upon in administrative circles. With that said, Coach Spavital may have extra incentive to throw everything in the kitchen at Kane Womack and South Alabama. It won’t be enough. The Jags are playing catch-up with the Trojans, and aren’t about to fart around with the Bobcats.
Southern Miss at Coastal Carolina, 6:30 P.M, ESPNU
Coastal is 8-1, deserves to be ranked by the Committee of ESPN Approved Logos, and has more or less wrapped up the East. Southern Miss is a win from bowl eligibility and might have run out of luck. Should the Golden Eagles fall at Conway, they either have to get by South Bama or ULM for bowl eligibility, quite the milestone for first year head coach Will Hall.
UPDATE: Grayson McCall is injured