It’s Almost Finished: Sun Belt Week 12

Analysis, Odds, Insight, Broadcast, Kickoff Times, Plus and More from the Strongest G5 Conference

We’ve reached the cosmic college athletics nexus the unites basketball and football to create the most powerful force in the universe. The number of video highlights triple! Kirk Herbstreit and Dick Vitale begin to merge into an amalgamation of super-humanity. Minus becomes Plus. Plus becomes Double Plus. In November, the number of atoms afforded to every living creature quintuples. By Thanksgiving, men are pooping fully functioning M-16s.

Within this universe, the Sun Belt solar system continues to appease the strange gods that govern our emotions. Many of us have already abandoned disappointing pigskin teams for the promise of hoops. Some are running the numbers on a possible bowl bid. Something is likely happening at Old Dominion, but nobody really knows what. One thing is certain: Week 12 is happening, baby.

Louisiana at #23 Florida State, 11:00 A.M, ESPN3

Along with Georgia State, the Cajuns are the most “Jekyll and Hyde” of the Sun Belt football programs, performing miserably one game and masterfully the next, resulting in a 5-5 record. Naming Ben Wooldridge the full-time quarterback was the right call from head coach Mike Desormeaux. Wooldridge has tossed 12 TD posses in five games. But the guy who will create the most headaches for Florida State is linebacker Andre Jones. He is a legit Beast Man.

Vegas Says: -23 Seminoles
Howlraiser Says: I honestly know nothing about Florida State. However, I do know that the Cajuns are playing good football despite the .500 record. With a bowl game on the line, look for the Cajuns to beat that spread. (And maybe beat the Seminoles).

Georgia State at James Madison, 1:00 P.M., ESPN Plus

After dropping three straight, the Dukes unleashed all of their pent-up frustrations on poor Old Dominion with quarterback Todd Centeio returning to form with 300 yards passing. On the other side of the field, the Panthers appeared to be a team that had finally pulled it all together after compiling consecutive victories only to fall at home to the Warhawks. Georgia State’s inconsistency has been maddening, and now Shawn Elliot is face with a must win over Jimmy Mads if he wants to see the Panthers in the postseason.

Vegas Says: -9 Dukes
Howlraiser Says: Nine points feels good, but I suspect it will be a hard nine points. Though the Dukes are the toughest team to run on in the Sun Belt, Georgia State is the SBC’s most prolific run team, led by the legs of quarterback Darren Grainger. In the trenches, this will be one of most physical games of the year.

Old Dominion at Appalachian State, 1:30 P.M., ESPN Plus

Is the Fall of the Mountaineers the Sun Belt story of 2022? Many believed that the Sun Belt East would belong to Appalachian State once gain this season, but a stunning loss to Texas State early in conference play seemed to rattle head coach Shawn Clark and a team that has made uncharacteristic gaffs and snafus all season long. Since starting the season 2-0 in conference (and flabbergasting eventual SBC East champ Coastal Carolina), Old Dominion has lost four straight and is 100% pumped for basketball.

Vegas Says: -15.5 Mountaineers
Howlraiser Says: I’m done putting money on the Mountaineers. However, Appalachian State must notch this win plus gain a victory over a Georgia State team that’s in similar straits to become bowl eligible. How Appalachian State plays on Saturday should reveal if the team has bowl aspirations, or is simply ready to pack it in.

Coastal Carolina at Virginia, 2:30 P.M., ESPN 3

In the wake of the tragic mass shooting inflicted upon the University of Virginia football, it is understandable if the Cavaliers should decline to play this game out of respect for the victims. At the time of this writing, there is no indication whether or not the game will be played.

Vegas Says: -2 Cavaliers
Howlraiser Says: Is Coastal Carolina just as potent without Grayson McCall? The Chanticleers defeated Southern Miss on Saturday in the usual Chanticleer fashion – by scoring the minimum amount of points to win and allowing the defense to take over. One wonders if the Chanticleers Rope-a-Dope will work against Virginia.

UPDATE: Due to the tragic events that occurred over the weekend, the game between Virginia and Coastal Carolina has been canceled.

South Alabama at Southern Miss, 2:30 P.M., NFL Network

With a win, first year head coach Will Hall will have guided the Golden Eagles to an improbable bowl eligible season. Southern Miss nearly collected that victory over SBC East champion at Coastal Carolina before getting stymied by that Chants defense in the 4th. South Alabama is by no means an easier opponent (may be even tougher), but that Hattiesburg magic is strong. Coach Kane Womack has plenty to incentive to keep pace with the Trojans, but he’ll hope that the Chants sapped some of that fire out of Southern Miss.

Vegas Says: -7.5 Jaguars
Howlraiser Says: Vegas is right to pick the Jaguars, who is a better team in all facets of the game. Unlike last year’s version, South Alabama doesn’t allow factors like the opponent’s home field advantage or pluckiness factor in the outcome. The Jags will win this game, but think twice about picking them to beat the spread.

ULM at Troy, 2:30 P.M., ESPN Plus

Troy and South Alabama are playing nearly the same game on Saturday. Like the Golden Eagles, the Warhawks are out-kicking their coverage and sporadically playing solid football – just ask the Cajuns and Panthers. Troy, coming off a very narrow win over Army, would not be wise to overlook ULM. Future Sun Belt Coach of the Year Jon Sumrall likely smells that SBC West championship. Don’t expect him to lose focus now.

Vegas Says: -15 Troy
Howlraiser Says: Vegas is undervaluing the Warhawks, who have proven themselves dangerous offensively even against tough defensive opponents like Louisiana a Georgia State. Troy, meanwhile scores the second fewest points in the Sun Belt. Sumrall won’t let this game slip into the loss column, but even at home, I feel that 15 points is far too generous a spread.

Arkansas State at Texas State, 4:00 P.M., ESPN 3

The Battle for the Sun Belt Basement is not without its entertainment value. The Bobcats’ starting quarterback (Layne Hatcher) and running back (Lincoln Pare) were wearing Red Wolves jerseys last season, and Texas State has taken the last two games of a series that Arkansas State once dominated. The Bobcats season has been marred by multiple heartbreaking losses, and its offensive problems moving the ball between the 20s may haunt them still. The Red Wolves are coming off a win against UMass and have breathed deeply the vapors of victory. They’d like nothing less than take another bump at the Bobcats’ expense.

Vegas Says: -5.5 Bobcats
Howlraiser Says: San Marcos was the site of the Bobcats’ biggest victory this season, an epic upending of the Mountaineers. Returning for two home games after two consecutive road games, Texas State will have a pair of last-looks at Jake Spavital before deciding to move forward or move on with the once promising young coach. The Red Wolves will be ducking kitchen sinks all afternoon.

Marshall at Georgia Southern, 5:00 P.M., ESPN Plus

With a big win over Appalachian State, Marshall is one victory away from bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, the Eagles are still one win away as well after getting steamrolled by the Cajuns on Thursday evening. Georgia Southern sports the least effective run defense in the Sun Belt, which likely has Marshall’s Khalan Laborn, the conference’s leading run man (1,253 yards, 14 TDs), focus grouping a number of sick end zone dance moves.

Vegas Says: -4 Thundering Herd
Howlraiser Says: Georgia Southern’s losing performances against the Cajuns and South Alabama has me thinking that Clay Helton’s overachieving Eagles have run out of gas. Kyle Vantrease has had an incredible season as an Eagle, but Marshall’s run game and solid defense seem too much to overcome. That spread looks way too thing, in my arrogant opinion.