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Sun Belt Selections: Hump Day Football

Arkansas State and Georgia Southern go at it on Wednesday night.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Indiana
Can Werts and Georgia Southern find some weeknight magic at Paulson Stadium?
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We’re coming off, quite possibly, the best week of selections as I went 4-1 straight up, 3-2 against the spread, and 5-0 on the total. For the year, our record is 35-9 straight up, 19-14-2 against the spread, and 21-15 in the over/under.

If you follow that advice you are in the green. You can thank me later.

We are now in week six of the Sun Belt football season and there is finally some Fun Belt midweek action. Arkansas State and Georgia Southern will get us started tonight and we’ll then have four conference games on Saturday. It’s going to be another wild weekend.

Let’s get to the picks!

Game of the Week: Arkansas State at Georgia Southern (+8.5, Over/Under 55) Wednesday 8:00 PM ET ESPN2

In our first Fun Belt midweek game of the year, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern will be battling it out in Statesboro. These two programs met around this time last year and the Red Wolves would need a second half comeback to knock off the Eagles.

This is only the third meeting between these two programs and only the second when both were members of the Sun Belt. Both appear to be trending in different directions as the Red Wolves are a legit conference title contender and the Eagles may be the worst team in FBS.

It’s been a tough schedule in the first month of the season for Blake Anderson’s squad as the Red Wolves have dropped hard fought road games to Nebraska and SMU. The much hyped home game against Miami was canceled due to Hurricane Irma and, therefore, the Red Wolves are entering October with a 1-2 record.

Arkansas State v Nebraska
Will Justice Hansen play this week?
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Justice Hansen has been the story of the season for the Red Wolves as the junior quarterback has been locked in to start the season. The Oklahoma native is completing just under 70% of his passes and has tossed for 10 scores with a 7.4 yards per attempt average. He has been excellent to start the season and may be the most improved player in the conference.

The run game has also taken a big jump forward behind the five new offensive line starters. Warren Wand has looked much better running the football as he has 215 yards on 35 carries. Over half of Wand’s runs have gone for more than five yards as this run game looks much, much better.

It’s still too early to make a definitive statement about the Arkansas State defense as they’ve only played three games. However, it’s been ugly to start the season as the Red Wolves are finding themselves behind the chains as well as giving up a lot of big plays. Defensive back Justin Clifton currently leads the team in tackles, but defending Sun Belt player of the year Ja’Von Rolland-Jones has yet to make an impact.

Its been a rough start to year two for Tyson Summers as the return to the option has resulted in the Eagles having one of the worst offense in the FBS. Southern is off to an 0-3 start and will be making their home debut on Wednesday night.

Redshirt freshman Shai Werts really struggled to start the season, but he began to show some signs of life in the second half against Indiana. Werts completed two long touchdown passes against the Hoosiers and that would finally give this offense some life.

But this offense will go as the running game goes and it has been brutal to start the season. Backs Wesley Fields and L.A. Ramsby are both struggling as the offensive line is having a hard time creating running room. Werts currently leads the team in rushing and that is not a good thing. When not taking sacks, Werts has been effective but this is an offense that doesn’t do anything well at the moment.

The offense gets all of the negative attention, but the defense has been pretty bad this season. Southern has given up big plays on the ground and has struggled to slow down opposing passing attacks. Tyson Summers came to Statesboro as a defensive coordinator so you would’ve expected for this unit to be the strength of the team.

Safety RJ Murray leads the team in tackles while freshman Rashad Byrd has been a pleasant surprise. Defensive end Logan Hunt is the team’s best player and he is someone Arkansas State must account for. The junior has six tackles for loss and two sacks in only three games.

It’s a unique spot for Georgia Southern as things tend to get weird on weeknights and the bounces seem to go to the home dog more often than not. Justice Hansen hurt his back against SMU and was pulled early in the second half. His status for tonight is up in the air. Freshman Logan Bonner stepped in and did not play against SMU.

Georgia Southern may have a legit shot if Hansen cannot go.

Can the Eagles find enough offense? My answer is no as Arkansas State’s defense will play their best game of the season and will be the biggest reason the Red Wolves win by double-digits.

Red Wolves cover and the under hits. Arkansas State 30, Georgia Southern 14.

The rest of the Fun Belt...

ULM at Texas State (+5.5, O/U 56.5) 3:00 PM ET ESPN3

The Warhawks head to San Marcos after a very solid home win against Coastal Carolina and the schedule is setting up for Matt Viator’s squad to enter November in contention for a conference title. ULM received solid play from all three phases in the home win over the Chants. Meanwhile, it appeared Texas State ran out of gas against Wyoming after two huge home games versus Appalachian State and UTSA. Texas State bounces back and plays well, but a ULM non-offensive touchdown will be the difference.

Bobcats cover and the over hits. ULM 33, Texas State 27.

New Mexico State at Appalachian State (-10.5, O/U 55.5) 3:30 PM ET

The Aggies are nearing the end of a brutal stretch where they face New Mexico, Troy, Arkansas, Appalachian State, and Arkansas State in eight weeks. Tyler Rogers has done it all for the Aggies and they’ll need another big performance from the senior quarterback. App State enters Saturday off a bye week and should be refreshed and rejuvenated as they attempt to make a run at a conference title. App State’s ability to shut down the NMSU rushing attack will be the difference.

Mountaineers cover and the under hits. Appalachian State 34, New Mexico State 23.

UL-Lafayette at Idaho (-7, O/U 64) 5:00 PM ET ESPN3

The Cajuns and Vandals are both coming off bye weeks and will meet up in the Kibbie Dome on Saturday afternoon. UL-Lafayette has not been able to stop anyone and it is unsure if quarterback Jordan Davis will get the start. Idaho returns home after the huge overtime win over South Alabama in Mobile an will need a win if they’re going to get back to the postseason. At this point, you can’t expect anything from the UL-Lafayette defense and the Idaho defense will make just enough plays to win a high scoring game.

Vandals cover and the over hits. Idaho 45, UL-Lafayette 34.

Georgia State at Coastal Carolina (+2, O/U 49) 6:30 PM ET ESPN3

We’re entering October and GSU has only played three games due to an early bye and Memphis canceling on the Panthers so they could keep their game with UCF. Shawn Elliott will be looking for his first Sun Belt win coming off a shutout peformance against Charlotte. The passing game came alive for the Chants last weekend and wide receiver Malcolm Williams was a monster against ULM. Turnovers are a concern for Coastal, but they are the better team in this match-up and are catching points at home.

Chanticleers cover and the over hits. Coastal Carolina 31, Georgia State 21.