It just had to end this way.
For the third time in five seasons, it appears we will have co-champs in the Sun Belt in the final year before the league starts having a conference championship game. App State is one win away from recording back-to-back conference titles, Arkansas State is looking to grab its sixth conference crown in seven seasons, while Troy is looking for its first championship since 2010.
It’s going to be a wild weekend in the Fun Belt to close out the 2017 regular season and here is how each team stands in the pecking order going into December.
1.) Troy Trojans (9-2, beat Texas State 62-9)
Last Week: 1
Troy played its best offensive game of the year on senior day as they stomped Texas State at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Brandon Silvers threw for 380 yards and four scores as the Trojans accumulated 641 total yards on the day. The defense continues to be outstanding and Neal Brown’s squad will hit the road for Sun Belt game of the year in Jonesboro on Saturday night.
2.) Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-3, won at ULM 67-50)
Last Week: 2
The Sun Belt’s top offense continues to roll as the Red Wolves dropped 67 points in the road win over ULM as Justice Hansen threw for 520 yards and four touchdowns. The defense remains an issue as the Warhawks posted 590 total yards. Arkansas State was able to force four turnovers and that ended up being the difference. Blake Anderson’s squad will need to play their best game this Saturday night against Troy.
3.) Appalachian State Mountaineers (7-4, won at Georgia State 31-10)
Last Week: 4
In the biggest game of the season, App State played its best game of the year as they went on the road and smothered Georgia State. Jalin Moore looked like his old self as he ran for 239 yards on 32 carries as the Mountaineers controlled the game throughout. The App State defense dominated for 60 minutes as they held a potent passing attack to just 201 yards. Now App State is home win over UL-Lafayette away from a conference crown.
4.) Georgia State Panthers (6-4, lost to Appalachian State 31-10)
Last Week: 3
In the biggest game in program history, Georgia State fell short and there will be no conference championship this season. The Panthers couldn’t stop the run and the passing game could never get going in the loss to Appalachian State. Its been a great first season for Shawn Elliott and Georgia State has a great chance to end it on a high note when Idaho comes to Atlanta this Saturday.
5.) New Mexico State Aggies (5-6, beat Idaho 17-10)
Last Week: 5
The Aggies were without star quarterback Tyler Rogers last week but they found away to get a win as they knocked off Idaho. It was the best defensive performance of the season by NMSU as they held the Vandals to only 215 total yards and forced three turnovers. Now Rogers should be ready to go on Saturday as the Aggies host South Alabama looking for the much needed sixth win.
6.) ULM Warhawks (4-7, lost to Arkansas State 67-50)
Last Week: 7
ULM’s offense continues to post huge numbers as they are now averaging over 36 points per game. Quarterback Caleb Evans has been outstanding all season and he should receive votes as the Sun Belt player of the year next preseason. However, the defense has really held this group back and it did again in the loss to Arkansas State. The Warhawks gave up over 700 yards as it will be likely back-to-back 4-8 seasons for Matt Viator.
7.) UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (5-6, lost to Georgia Southern 34-24)
Last Week: 6
The Cajuns entered senior day only needing one victory to reach bowl eligibility in consecutive years. However, Georgia Southern had other plans as the Cajuns were upset at home. UL-Lafayette was never really in the game as they fell into a 17-0 early as Georgia Southern ran for nearly 400 yards. Now with a road trip to Appalachian State, it’s looking like a 5-7 season and Mark Hudspeth may be on the hot seat entering 2018.
8.) South Alabama Jaguars (4-7, Idle)
Last Week: 8
South Alabama enjoyed their final bye week of the season as they will close the year taking on New Mexico State in Las Cruces. It will be the final game for head coach Joey Jones and I think we should see a spirited effort from this Jags club.
9.) Georgia Southern Eagles (2-9, beat UL-Lafayette 34-24)
Last Week: 12
The road win over UL-Lafayette landed Chad Lunsford the full-time job in Statesboro as the Eagles rolled at Cajun Field. Wesley Fields led the way with 186 yards on 23 carries as the Eagles ran all over the Cajuns. This has been a different team since Lunsford took over and they will be looking to carry some momentum into 2018 season.
10.) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-9, Idle)
Last Week: 11
The Chants were off this past week and they will host Georgia Southern on Saturday afternoon in the season finale. It has been a rough first year in the FBS for this program but a win on Saturday would give Coastal something to build off of.
11.) Idaho Vandals (3-8, lost at New Mexico State 17-10)
Last Week: 9
The offense was absolutely dreadful in the road loss to New Mexico State as the Vandals only accumulated 215 total yards and only came away with 10 points. It’s been a very disappointing season and it comes to an end with the road trip to Georgia State this weekend.
12.) Texas State Bobcats (2-10, lost at Troy 62-9)
Last Week: 10
After two seasons, Everett Withers is now 4-20 as the head coach at Texas State and only has one conference win. The Bobcats were mauled by Troy on the road and this is a program that will have some big questions to answer this offseason.