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Sun Belt Selections: We have a showdown in Las Cruces

Fun Belt conference play begins this week.

NCAA Football: Dollar General Bowl-Ohio vs Troy
Troy will need Brandon Silvers to play at a high level on Saturday night.
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

We’re headed into week three in the Fun Belt and we will finally have some conference games to analyze this week. Only Georgia Southern has the week off and it’ll be an action packed Saturday around the league. The conference will have some great opportunities to pick up some nice non-conference wins and we only have two FCS match-ups.

Last week in our picks we finished 6-2 straight up, 3-2 against the spread, and 4-1 versus the total. For the season, we are 16-4 straight up, 7-5-3 against the spread, and 8-7 against the total. That’s not great but it’s not bad. Let’s get on a hot streak and pick some winners this week.!


Game of the Week: Troy (-7, Over/Under 61) at New Mexico State 8:00 PM ET ESPN3

It’s been a hell of a start to the season for Doug Martin’s squad as the Aggies are averaging over 500 yards per game and Tyler Rogers has passed for nearly 800 yards in just two outings. NMSU has receivers making plays all over the field and the defense has been producing some opportunistic plays. The Aggies are starting to show signs that they could be a conference title contender this fall.

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Arizona State
Can Tyler Rogers stay hot against a salty Troy defense?
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Troy enters this after a bounce back performance at home as they dominated FCS Alabama State. So far, it appears that Troy has the best defense in the Sun Belt as the Trojans are only allowing 3.4 yards per rush and five yards per play. The dynamic rushing duo of Jordan Chunn and Jamarius Henderson is going to give Sun Belt defensive coordinators a ton of nightmares. If Neal Brown’s squad gets consistent quarterback play from senior Brandon Silvers this offense should hum.

It’s been a series that has been owned by Troy since Neal Brown arrived on campus as the Trojans have outscored the Aggies by a score of 104-13. NMSU has had a hard time stopping this Air Raid attack from Troy and to that recent history gives them the edge. Tyler Rogers will keep NMSU in the game and Larry Rose III finally gets back on track on the ground. However, Troy will just have too much firepower on offense as the Trojans pull away in the fourth quarter.

Trojans covers and the over hits. Troy 43, New Mexico State 33.


The rest of the Fun Belt...

UL-Lafayette (+23.5, O/U 61.5) at Texas A&M Noon ET SEC Network

This Cajuns offense has been on fire to start the season as they are averaging 46.5 points per game and are posting an explosive 7.2 yards per play. New offensive coordinator Will Hall has gotten quality quarterback play from Jordan Davis and running backs Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas have both posted eye popping numbers. But the defense has been atrocious as they’ve been lit up by Southeastern Louisiana and Tulsa. Texas A&M has had some offensive struggles themselves as they’ve looked bad since quarterback Nick Starkel was knocked out of the UCLA game. But they get healthy here as we’ll have a shootout at Kyle Field.

Cajuns cover and the over hits. Texas A&M 51, UL-Lafayette 33

Coastal Carolina (-1.5, O/U 51.5) at UAB 1:00 PM ET Conference USA Digital Network

The Chants head on the road for the first time this season after a bye last week. They’ll have a difficult challenge this weekend as they’ll be going against a UAB offense that is averaging 34.5 points per game and over six yards per play. The Blazers are doing most of their damage on the ground as sophomore Spencer Brown is averaging eight yards per carry. It’s going to be a battle of running games as both teams are struggling to move the ball through the air. In close battle, I give UAB the edge due to the home crowd.

Blazers cover and the under hits. UAB 27, Coastal Carolina 21.

Idaho (+20.5, O/U 53.5) at Western Michigan 7:00 PM ET ESPN3

The Vandals head on the road for the first time this season after a very disappointing home performance against UNLV. Meanwhile, Western Michigan is looking for their first win of the season after playing both USC and Michigan State close. It’s a little bit of letdown spot for the Broncos and a bounce back spot for the Vandals so this will be closer than most will expect. In the end, the rushing attack from WMU will be too much.

Vandals cover and the over hits. Western Michigan 31, Idaho 26.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Arkansas State (No odds available) 7:00 PM ET ESPN3

After a surprise bye week, the Red Wolves will be playing their home opener against FCS competition. Pine Bluff won’t challenge Blake Anderson’s squad for very long and Justice Hansen has another big day throwing the football around the yard.

Arkansas State 51, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 13

Southern Miss at ULM (+6.5, O/U 58.5) 7:00 PM ET ESPN3

It’s another C-USA and Sun Belt match-up as the Golden Eagles head to Funroe to take on the Warhawks. It’ll be a difficult challenge for Matt Viator’s offense as the USM defense has been really stingy early in the season. USM quarterback Kwadra Griggs will be making his first road start against a shaky defense and that may be the biggest key to the game. Viator will have his team ready, but the USM talent will prevail.

Golden Eagles cover and the over hits. Southern Miss 34, ULM 26

Alabama A&M at South Alabama (No odds available) 7:00 PM ET ESPN3

Joey Jones and his ballclub will be looking for their first win of the season as they host FCS Alabama A&M. Dallas Davis will be making the start at quarterback for the injured Cole Garvin and he should look much better after a full week of practice running with the first team. Look for the Jags to get their running game going and their defense flexes their muscles against an Alabama A&M offense that put up putrid performances against UAB and Vanderbilt.

South Alabama 41, Alabama A&M 13

Appalachian State at Texas State (+23, O/U 48.5)

The Mountaineers head to San Marcos to take on Texas State and I have a feeling this one will be up in the air going into the fourth quarter. The Texas State defense has been very good against the run to this point in the season and that is what the App State offense is built on. The Bobcats hang around but the lack of offense allows the Mountaineers to pull away in the fourth quarter.

Bobcats cover and the under hits. Appalachian State 23, Texas State 9.

Georgia State (+37, O/U 55.5) at #5 Penn State 7:30 PM ET Big Ten Network

The Panthers had a week off to get a lot of mistakes fixed after a bad opening game and now they’ll to challenge a very strong Penn State squad. Saquon Barkley may be the best player in the country and he’ll lead the Nittany Lions to a huge lead early so the starters can rest up for a huge road trip to Iowa next week. GSU will struggle all night to move the football against an underrated Penn State defense.

Nittany Lions cover and the under hits. Penn State 44, Georgia State 6.