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Sun Belt Selections: Las Cruces Shootout

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NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Nebraska
Justice Hansen has the Arkansas State offense humming.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to an unexpected sickness, we had to skip out last week and I need to offer you my sincerest apologies. I know you missed this advice and were lost without it.

For the season we stand at 42-13 straight up, 25-20-2 against the spread, and 27-20 against the total. That’s winning some money.

It should be another crazy week in the Sun Belt and we are here to tell you how it is going to go.

Game of the Week: Arkansas State at New Mexico State (+3.5, Over/Under 70.5) Saturday 8:00 PM ET ESPN3

What was an after thought at the beginning of the season is now a game that has conference title implications as the Red Wolves will hit the road for their biggest Sun Belt challenge until they host Troy on the first weekend in December. Both squads enter this contest averaging over 30 points per game and we should see points put on the board.

Blake Anderson’s club has been dominant ever since Sun Belt play started as they have scored over 40 points in each win as their passing game is slicing up opposing defenses. After a slow start, the defense is beginning to come around and defending conference player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones is starting to wreak havoc once again.

Justice Hansen is playing excellent football as the junior quarterback has thrown for 21 touchdowns in six games and is averaging 310.3 passing yards per game. Hansen is averaging 8.3 yards per pass attempt and this offense has been near unstoppable whenever he is in the lineup.

The running game has struggled a bit, but it hasn’t mattered since the passing game has been so lethal. The receiving corps in Jonesboro are extremely deep as the offense has seven players that have received between 20 and 41 targets. Tight end Blake Mack leads the team in receptions and touchdowns, but Justin McInnis and Chris Murray have emerged as the big play receivers.

For New Mexico State’s defense, the Aggies are improved from last season but they still have a long ways to go. Opponents are averaging 5.6 yards per play and 31.4 points against the Aggies. NMSU is giving up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground but their pass defense has been very stingy. The Aggies have recorded 10 interceptions and only one opponent has passed for more than 300 yards. This will be a very fun matchup.

On the other side of the football, Tyler Rogers has been excellent this season as he averaging 356 passing yards per game and over seven yards per attempt. The senior has been sharp but he’s had interception issues the last few games including throwing six to the bad guys against Appalachian State.

Jason Huntley is a future star. Remember where you heard it first.

Jaleel Scott has emerged as NMSU’s top target as the senior has 41 catches for 595 yards and seven touchdowns. Jason Huntley is one of college football’s best kept secrets as he’s recorded 63 touches, is averaging 7.4 yards per carry, and 12.1 yards per grab. Huntley is also a weapon as a kick returner and the sophomore is the future in Las Cruces.

Larry Rose III got off to a slow start but he’s been very productive when able to go. Rose took the Georgia Southern game off and had the bye week to get healthy. The senior could have a breakout performance on Saturday and will have a nice matchup against a leaky Arkansas State defense. For the year, Rose is averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

The Arkansas State defense has disappointed many to this point in the season. The unit has played better once Sun Belt play started, but there are still worries.

Opponents have ran for 197 yards or more twice on the Red Wolves but it has taken a lot of carries. The passing defense has been better as they’ve recorded six interceptions.

After a very slow start to the season, Ja’Von Rolland-Jones has turned it on as the defensive end has posted 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He’s once again emerged as a monster and will be a pain in the butt for NMSU this weekend.

It’s a huge spot for New Mexico State and they should be refreshed coming off of the bye. Arkansas State is due for a letdown after posting three straight blowouts to begin conference play. The defenses in both sides come to play and this is a lower score than most expect. Tyler Rogers avoids the turnover bug and the Aggies pull off the upset.

Aggies cover and the under hits. New Mexico State 34, Arkansas State 30.

The rest of the Fun Belt...

South Alabama at Georgia State (PK, O/U 49) Thursday 7:30 PM ET ESPNU

On Thursday night in downtown Atlanta, the winner will stay in the Sun Belt race while the loser may not have enough wins at the end of the season to go bowling. This is a huge game as both quarterbacks, Dallas Davis and Conner Manning, are playing very well at the moment. Georgia State’s brutal special teams play continues to perform poorly and this could hold them back.

Jaguars cover and the under hits. South Alabama 23, Georgia State 20.

Appalachian State (-4, O/U 55) at UMass 3:30 PM ET Eleven Sports

After beginning Sun Belt play 4-0, the Mountaineers will play their last non-conference game of the season as they head to Amherst to take on the Minutemen. UMass has a really good offense behind quarterback Andrew Ford and tight end Adam Breneman. Taylor Lamb and the App State offense will need to play well, something they have yet to do on the road. I believe the Mountaineers put it all together this week.

Mountaineers cover and the over hits. Appalachian State 41, UMass 23.

Georgia Southern at Troy (-26, O/U 50.5) 3:30 PM ET ESPN3

Chad Lunsford will make his debut as the interim head coach for Georgia Southern as the Eagles look to move beyond the Tyson Summers era. Troy enters this one coming off of a huge win against Georgia State and they haven’t had any success against Georgia Southern since the Eagles entered the league. This one is much closer than you expect.

Eagles cover and the over hits. Troy 34, Georgia Southern 17.

ULM at Idaho (-3, O/U 61.5) 5:00 PM ET ESPN3

Two teams heading in the wrong direction will meet in the Kibbie Dome needing a much needed win. ULM let two winnable games against Georgia State and South Alabama slip away as their defense has been exposed. Idaho is coming off an absolute soul crushing defeat against Missouri where they gave up five touchdowns in the first quarter. I like the Vandals to bounce back at home a little more than I do ULM after losing consecutive close games.

Vandals cover and the under hits. Idaho 31, ULM 27.

Texas State at Coastal Carolina (-8, O/U 53)

The two winless teams in the conference will meet in Conway to determine who will finish last in the conference this season. Coastal Carolina has been scoring points but just can’t seem to stop anyone. Texas State has been getting stops but just can’t put points on the board. I believe Coastal and their offense get over the hump as the program gets their first Sun Belt victory.

Bobcats cover and the over hits. Coastal Carolina 34, Texas State 28.