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Sun Belt Selections: Modern Day Hate

Time to pick some winners!

Saturday is a huge moment for Shawn Elliott.
Georgia State Athletics

We were perfect on our total picks last week as the unders came in at a high clip. Other than that, it wasn’t great as we were 3-3 against the spread and only 2-4 straight. However, we are still picking winners on a consistent basis.

For the season, we stand at 44-17 straight up, 28-23-2 against the spread, and 33-20 on over/unders. It’s been a solid year but with an entire month of football remaining, it’s time to get on a heater.

With five conference games on the slate for this weekend, it’s going to be a wild weekend in the Fun Belt.

Game of the Week: Georgia State at Georgia Southern (+4, Over/Under 51.5) Saturday 3:00 PM ET ESPN3

The series some have called “Modern Day Hate” will be occurring for the fourth time ever as the Panthers will be making the trip to Statesboro. Georgia State has won back-to-back games in this rivalry and currently leads the series. Can Georgia Southern continue the current streak on the underdog pulling the upset?

Georgia State has been one of the better stories in college football this season as new head coach Shawn Elliott has the Panthers in position for their second bowl berth in program history. The Panthers currently sit at 4-3 with four games remaining and wide receiver Penny Hart has been doing most of the damage.

The sophomore has emerged as one of the best receivers in the Group of Five this season. The Buford, Georgia native has 53 receptions for 685 yards and seven scores. Offensive coordinator Travis Trickett has used Hart in the running game as well as he is everything for this offense. If opponents slow down Hart, Georgia State really struggles.

Conner Manning is giving the Panthers strong quarterback play as the senior is averaging 244.4 passing yards per game. When given time to throw, the pocket passer has been able to make teams pay.

The Georgia State ground game has been a chore this season but the team is coming off one of their best outings of season putting up 114 yards in the win over South Alabama. Glenn Smith has emerged as Georgia State’s top rusher and the converted receiver is an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield.

They’ll be going up against a Georgia Southern defense that is one of the worst in the FBS. Opponents are averaging 40.9 points per game against the Eagles. Southern is giving up nearly seven yards per play and nothing has really gone well for this unit.

Chris DeLaRossa has played very well from his linebacker position as he leads the team in tackles. Corner Monquavion Brinson has emerged as a playmaker as he has three interceptions and seven pass break-ups.

Georgia Southern v Indiana
Shai Werts is still Georgia Southern’s best option at quarterback.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

There is now at quarterback battle in Statesboro as both Kado Brown and Shai Werts received snaps in the loss to Troy. Both players have struggled with ball security. To me, Werts gives the Eagles the best chance at winning as he is an excellent runner when he is not taking sacks or fumbling the football.

After a slow start, running back Wesley Fields has got it going the last few weeks as he’s scored three touchdowns and has averaged at least four yards per carry in the last four games. For this offense to score points, Fields must be successful.

The defense for Georgia State has really come on as of late as this front seven is doing an excellent job against the run. Three of the last four opponents have rushed for under 120 yards as the Panthers 3-4 scheme is causing a lot of problems for opponents. Julien Laurent remains one of the best nose tackles in the Group of Five and he’s been very productive producing five non-sack tackles for loss. Linebackers Ed Curney, Trey Payne, and Michael Shaw have all been excellent.

The pass defense, meanwhile, has been a letdown this season. The Panthers are not getting the play needed from corners Jerome Smith and Chandon Sullivan. However, safety Bryan Williams has been excellent as he leads the team in tackles and has recorded four interceptions.

For the first time in this series, Georgia Southern will have the chance to play spoiler as they will be an underdog on Saturday afternoon. However, it’s hard for me to see the Eagles having much rushing success against this Georgia State front seven. Georgia Southern puts up a great effort, but the Panthers pull away in the fourth quarter.

Panthers cover and the over hits. Georgia State 33, Georgia Southern 24.

The rest of the Fun Belt...

Idaho at Troy (-17.5, O/U 51) Thursday 9:15 PM ET ESPNU

ESPN is back in Troy and the Trojans will be looking to deliver a better performance this time around. The Trojans have been playing excellent defense all season long and they should perform well against this Idaho offense. If Brandon Silvers and this passing game gets rolling, this one could get ugly quick.

Trojans cover and the under hits. Troy 34, Idaho 13.

Appalachian State at ULM (+9.5, O/U 61.5) 3:00 PM ET ESPN3

Points will be scored in bunches at Malone Stadium on Saturday afternoon. App State continues to play to their competition while ULM is still putting up gaudy offensive numbers. The ULM defense is really struggling and I believe we’ll see Taylor Lamb outduel Caleb Evans.

Warhawks cover and the over hits. Appalachian State 38, ULM 30.

New Mexico State at Texas State (+10, O/U 57) 3:00 PM ET ESPN3

After a hot start, the Aggies have suffered some blows lately at they now sit at 3-5 and need some wins to break that bowl drought. They’ll be heading on the road to take on a Texas State squad that finally recorded a win in the Sun Belt. This one goes down to the wire, but NMSU finds away to pull it out.

Bobcats cover and the under hits. New Mexico State 27, Texas State 24.

Coastal Carolina (+23.5, O/U 59.5) 4:00 PM ET SEC Network

It’s been a rough year for the Chanticleers as they’ve lost their last seven outings after beating UMass in the opener. The Chants have blown many winnable games but they’ve been pretty competitive against top notch competition. However, after getting blasted by Texas State I’m not sure we’ll see a spirited effort this Saturday. This one gets ugly.

Razorbacks cover and the over hits. Arkansas 44, Coastal Carolina 17.

UL-Lafayette at South Alabama (-5.5, O/U 53) 4:00 PM ET ESPN3

Two middle of the road Sun Belt teams will meet in Mobile on Saturday afternoon in a must win situation. Both programs have a chance at a postseason appearance but they must get this win. A week after being held to negative yards, I believe Xavier Johnson will have a monster performance. South Alabama will be able to force some turnovers as they pick up a much needed win.

Jaguars cover and the under hits. South Alabama 27, UL-Lafayette 17.