Another week has come and gone and now it’s time to reassess the Sun Belt. There was plenty of action this past weekend and the big dogs are starting to separate themselves from the pack. There are now only a few teams that have a legit shot at a league title and we’re starting to see who has a real shot at making a bowl appearance come December.
Not much has changed in our rankings, but there is still plenty to learn about each squad in the Fun Belt. Here is how each team stands going into week nine.
1.) Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-2, beat Coastal Carolina 37-29)
Last Week: 1
App State improved to 4-0 in conference play as they outlasted Coastal Carolina in Boone. The narrative that the Mountaineers play down to their competition continued on Saturday as Coastal did just enough to make App State sweat. In the victory, Taylor Lamb became the program’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes as he tossed for two scores and 427 yards. The Mountaineers again struggled to run the ball and their defense was lit up 332 yards passing on just 29 attempts. App State will head on the road this week and their secondary will get another test against an excellent UMass passing game.
2.) Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-2, beat UL-Lafayette 47-3)
Last Week: 2
The Red Wolves hosted the Cajuns on Thursday night and beat the absolute crap out of Mark Hudspeth’s squad. As you may remember, UL-Lafayette upset Arkansas State in November last season and ruined Arkansas State’s unblemished conference record. This offense continues to put up monster numbers but it was refreshing to see that defense come alive. Defending Sun Belt player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones has re-emerged in Sun Belt play and he posted 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in the blowout win.
3.) Troy Trojans (5-2, won at Georgia State 34-10)
Last Week: 3
It was a long week for the Troy offense and they responded on Saturday afternoon. Brandon Silvers threw for 335 yards and the ground game manufactured 122 yards with Jordan Chunn sitting out with injury. The defense continued their solid play in a much needed bounce back performance for the Trojans.
4.) New Mexico State Aggies (3-4, Idle)
Last Week: 4
NMSU received a much needed bye week after playing seven straight games that included two Power Five opponents and four different one possession games. The Aggies were really banged up and should be healthy for this week’s showdown against Arkansas State in Las Cruces. Expect a lot of points.
5.) South Alabama Jaguars (3-4, beat ULM 33-23)
Last Week: 5
Everything about the matchup with ULM said the Jags were going to stumble, but instead they played one of their best games of the season. Dallas Davis threw for over 300 yards as the South Alabama offense had their best performance of the uyear. The defense was shredded on the ground but kept ULM out of the endzone the entire second half. The Jags head on the road to take on Georgia State this Thursday in a game that may be a must win if they want to get back to the postseason.
6.) Georgia State Panthers (3-3, lost to Troy 34-10)
Last Week: 6
The Panthers had their three-game winning streak snapped as Troy clobbered them at home. Georgia State remains winless in their new digs as the offense was smothered by Troy’s defense. Troy quickly made Georgia State one-dimensional and the rushing attack is still struggling. ESPN will be coming to town on Thursday night and a win over South Alabama could be a huge momentum boost for this program.
7.) ULM Warhawks (3-4, lost at South Alabama 33-23)
Last Week: 7
The defensive issues continue for the Warhawks as they were lit up by a South Alabama offense that had really struggled to this point in the season. This group may be the worst in the country and they are wasting an exciting offense. The Warhawks ran for 307 yards this past week but this passing game struggles when they don’t hit on big plays. ULM will have solid chance to escape this rut when they travel to Idaho this weekend.
8.) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (3-4, lost at Arkansas State 47-3)
Last Week: 8
After lighting up defenses in the first month of the season, the Cajuns have come crashing down to earth. UL-Lafayette has scored 24 points or less in their last three games. The defensive improvements went out the window as they were lit up by Arkansas State. The Cajuns get a much needed bye week before heading to South Alabama.
9.) Idaho Vandals (2-5, lost at Missouri 68-21)
Last Week: 9
It appeared that Idaho let Appalachian State beat them twice as they went to Columbia and were lit up by Drew Lock and the high octane Mizzou offense. The Tigers hung 34 points on the Vandals in the first quarter and this game was over before it started. If the Vandals can’t bounce back and beat ULM this weekend, this season will go down the drain very quickly.
10.) Texas State Bobcats (1-6, Idle)
Last Week: 10
The Bobcats had a much needed week off after suffering four consecutive losses by at least 17 points. It appears freshman Willie Jones III will be the quarterback moving forward and the young gun played very well in the loss to UL-Lafayette. The Bobcats head to Coastal Carolina this week and if they can’t pick up a win here they’re likely looking at another winless year in the Sun Belt.
11.) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (1-6, lost at Appalachian State 37-29)
Last Week: 11
The Chants recorded another competitive loss as they played the Mountaineers to a tight football game in Boone. It’s been a year of moral victories for interim head coach Jamey Chadwell as this program is struggling to make the transition to the FBS. Quarterback Tyler Keane has come alive lately and this passing game is really putting up some numbers. The Chants will have a great chance for their first Sun Belt win when Texas State comes to Conway this Saturday.
12.) Georgia Southern Eagles (0-6, lost at UMass 55-20)
Last Week: 12
We all knew it was just a matter of time, but Georgia Southern finally decided to end the Tyson Summers era this week. It’s been a brutal 2017 for the once prestigious program as the Eagles have given up at least 35 points to all of their FBS opponents. We’ll see if they can be rejuvenated by interim head coach Chad Lunsford.