Because the Sun Belt is the Sun Belt, three of the four Bowl games affiliated with the conference are crammed back-to-back-to-back on December 19th. So this is a pretty hot Saturday, y'all, with the Mountaineers, Panthers and Red Wolves looking to seize glory for the Sun Belt within a tightly compressed span of eight hours while competing with the opening weekend of the new Star Wars movie.
No pressure. No big! Just, you know, we could have probably spaced these Bowl games out a little – a nice, even heat cooks the best steaks, right? As it is, we're firing nearly the full intensity of Sun Belt Heat like the Death Star at Alderaan. It's a little overkill. Save some December 19th for the other conferences, amirite?
Nope! We're the Sun Belt, damnit! The whims of the NCAA are our laws! We're blasting the Bowl landscape into a lifeless asteroid field, and it's on your head, Mr. Whoever Schedules Bowl Games.
As you've likely completely forgotten, #SunBeltHeat is produced by whispering the following equation:
P5 Condescension x ESPN3 + Righteous Fury / "Any given Saturday" = SUN BELT HEAT
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Appalachian State (10-2) vs. Ohio (8-4), December 19th, 4:30 PM CST on ESPN
Chance For Winning (ESPN FPI): 70.7%
The Camellia Bowl is played in beautiful Montgomery, Alabama which is named after Richard Montgomery, who fought in the American Revolution and died during the Benedict Arnold’s expedition against Quebec. But enough about Montgomery! What you want to know is that Appalachian State turned in the best overall record in the Sun Belt, and features the nation's 12th toughest defense and the 6th best rushing offense lead by junior Marcus Cox (1,261 yds, 8TDS). Meanwhile, Ohio punished Idaho and the Sun Belt to open the season, so the Bobcats aren't intimidated by Sun Belt Heat. Good! Sacrificing Idaho to artificially stoke your ego was the plan, Ohio! Nobody can match the Sun Belt for strategic sagacity, and now you've been lulled into a hypnotic state of crippling overconfidence!
Sun Belt Heat Index: 19% for strategic sagacity, plus .3% for nice round even numbers.
Adjusted Chance for Winning: 90%
Autonation Cure Bowl
Georgia State (6-6) vs. San Jose State (5-7), December 19th, 6:00PM CST on CBS Sports Network
Chance For Winning (ESPN FPI): 43%
Surprise! The Panthers are not only playing in a Bowl game, they're playing against a Mountain West team with a losing record. That's not to take anything away from Sun Belt Coach of the Year, Trent Miles, whose team was picked in the preseason to place 9th in the Sun Belt. Miles' secret coaching strategy is "THROW THE DANG BALL," as Georgia State is led by super-QB Nick Arbuckle, who's only tossed the pill for 4,167 measly yards and 26 sorry TDs.
(DELTED SECTION WHERE SUN BELT HEAT MISTOOK SAN JOSE STATE FOR SAN DIEGO STATE)
Sun Belt Heat Index: 57% because the Panthers are 100% legit!
Adjusted Chance for Winning: 100%
R&L Carrier New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4), December 19th, 8:00PM CST on ESPN
Chance For Winning (ESPN FPI): 44.6%
On paper, the Bulldogs and the Red Wolves are strikingly similar. A-State posts 42 ppg while surrendering 28. Louisiana Tech puts up 37 per game and gives up 27. What differs is the execution. The Bulldogs grab the majority of their yards through the air via the arm of transfer QB Jeff Driskel (3,575 yds, 24TDs), while the Red Wolves dish out a more balanced air/ground attack.
A-State also must stop Arkansas native Kenneth Dixon, who's punched it into the end zone 17 times and is only two scores away from breaking Keenan Reynold's all time record of 85 rushing TDs (though that record isn't set in stone yet). Mission accepted! Colonel Blake Anderson and his Howling Commandos are authorized to fire up the Heat! Sorry, Bulldogs. You're just hot dogs to the Sun Belt.
Sun Belt Heat Index: 44.4% based exclusively on this savage Tweet from Coach Anderson:
Adjusted Chance for Winning: 100%
Georgia Southern (8-4) vs. Bowling Green (10-3), December 23rd, 7:00PM CST on ESPN
Chance For Winning (ESPN FPI): 37.4%
Bowling Green won the MAC, and was rewarded with a trip to Mobile and a shot at Georgia Southern, pairing two teams that cannot differ more on the field. For example, the Falcons average 376 yards passing. The Eagles average 62 yards! What Georgia Southern brings to the gridiron is the nation's number one rushing attack and 21st ranked defense.
Ball-control will be key to the Willie Fritz-less Eagles, who must find some way of containing BG's all-world QB Matt Johnson (4,700 yds, 43TDs). But if there's one thing Georgia Southern knows in its heart, it's that Georgia Southern is the best! Bring your air attack, Falcons! The Eagles will bury it in the fairly new turf of Ladd-Peebles stadium.
Adjusted Chance for Winning: 90,037.4%