Believe it or not, November is here and the Sun Belt title race is starting to take shape. As we enter the final five weeks of the season, four Sun Belt teams have no more than one conference loss as the race for the league crown is wide open.
After a non-conference upset, we have a new top dog and Georgia State keeps hanging around. This is going to be a fun month.
1.) Arkansas State Red Wolves (5-2, won at New Mexico State 37-21)
Last Week: 2
In their biggest road challenge of the conference season, the Red Wolves went to Las Cruces and dropped the hammer on New Mexico State. Arkansas State outscored the Aggies 30-7 in the second half as Justice Hansen threw for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Sack specialist Ja’Von Rolland-Jones is starting to turn the corner as he recorded multiple sacks for the third time in four games. The Red Wolves will be a heavy favorite in their November Sun Belt games, but all eyes will be on the matchup with Troy in December.
2.) Troy Trojans (6-2, beat Georgia Southern 38-16)
Last Week: 2
Troy returned home for homecoming this past Saturday as they handed Georgia Southern another loss. The passing game again had some struggles as Brandon Silvers only threw for 102 yards. The ground game picked up the slack as Josh Anderson ran for 96 yards and Jamarius Henderson chipped in 77 yards with Jordan Chunn missing his second consecutive game. The defense continues to play well and the Trojans will host Idaho this Thursday night.
3.) Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-3, lost at UMass 30-27, 2OT)
Last Week: 1
The Mountaineers have been playing with fire all season and they were finally burned on Saturday. App State’s passing offense was pitiful against a bad UMass secondary and that was the biggest reason the Mountaineers took a loss. If they were going to get upset, however, this was the spot as it happened outside of Sun Belt play. We’ll see if this is the wakeup call that this App State squad needed.
4.) New Mexico State Aggies (3-5, lost to Arkansas State 37-21)
Last Week: 4
With the loss to Arkansas State, the Aggies finished 0-for-3 against the Sun Belt’s big three and they’re now 1-3 in the league. However, the schedule gets really soft for NMSU starting this week and the Aggies have a great chance to close the season with four consecutive wins. After a hot start, quarterback Tyler Rogers is beginning to struggle as he’s thrown 10 interceptions in four Sun Belt games.
5.) Georgia State Panthers (4-3, beat South Alabama 21-13)
Last Week: 6
On Thursday night, Georgia State finally picked up their first win in their new stadium as their defense dominated South Alabama. The GSU front seven held South Alabama to only 41 rushing yards as South Alabama was held out of the endzone for nearly 58 minutes. Now Shawn Elliott will look to pick up the biggest win of his tenure when the Panthers travel to Statesboro this Saturday.
6.) South Alabama Jaguars (3-5, lost at Georgia State 21-13)
Last Week: 5
After consecutive Sun Belt wins, the South Alabama offense fell apart against Georgia State as Dallas Davis struggled throwing the football and Georgia State held star running back Xavier Johnson to negative-three yards on seven carries. No player for South Alabama ran for more than 11 yards and the Jags really wasted a good performance by their defense. Now it’s going to be very difficult for South to get back to bowl eligibility. The home game against UL-Lafayette is a must win on Saturday.
7.) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (3-5, Idle)
Last Week: 8
The Cajuns spent the past week at home licking their wounds after being crushed by Arkansas State. UL-Lafayette will head on the road again to face a South Alabama squad who is coming off a very tough loss. With remaining road games against Ole Miss and Appalachian State, this is a must win for Mark Hudspeth if this team is going to make it back to the postseason.
8.) Idaho Vandals (3-5, beat ULM 31-23)
Last Week: 9
Behind a 28-point first half, the Vandals bounced back from the beating suffered against Missouri to pick up a big Sun Belt win against ULM. Matt Linehan played his best game of the year as he passed for 360 yards and three touchdowns. Things got scary in the second half as ULM made a comeback, but the Vandals were able to hold on. Paul Petrino’s squad has a huge challenge this week as they head to Troy on Thursday night.
9.) ULM Warhawks (3-5, lost at Idaho 31-23)
Last Week: 7
The slide for the Warhawks continues as their defense is getting blasted by everyone the play. For the third consecutive game, the Warhawks gave up over 30 points and this is a real issue again for Matt Viator’s program. Caleb Evans continues to give ULM solid play at quarterback as the offense is still putting up numbers. With remaining games against Appalachian State, Auburn, and Arkansas State, the Warhawks may not win another game for the rest of the year.
10.) Texas State Bobcats (2-6, won at Coastal Carolina 27-7)
Last Week: 10
Everett Withers finally picked up his first Sun Belt win as the Bobcats went on the road and crushed the Chanticleers. Coastal’s only score came on a scoop-and-score in the first quarter as the Bobcats held them to 183 total yards. Offensively, Texas State played their best game of the season as the Bobcats acquired 32 first downs and passed and rushed for over 200 yards each. This was a victory the program really needed.
11.) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (1-7, lost to Texas State 27-7)
Last Week: 11
It’s just been a rough year for the Chants as they are winless in Sun Belt play and a 1-11 season is a real possibility. Coastal’s offense has been a mess all season while the defense has not been able to stop anyone. The Chanticleers head to Arkansas this weekend before closing out the year with Troy, Idaho, and Georgia Southern.
12.) Georgia Southern (0-7, lost at Troy 38-16)
Last Week: 12
The Eagles move on from Tyson Summers, but the results remained the same as they were smothered by Troy. Georgia Southern played two quarterbacks and the results were mixed. The ball security appeared to be better and their pass defense really showed out against Troy. This weekend when Georgia State comes to Statesboro it will be a big moment for the program.