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Sun Belt Selections: Showdown in Monroe

Can ULM get off to a 2-0 start in conference play?

Coastal Carolina v Wisconsin
Coastal makes their Sun Belt debut on Saturday night.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It’s Friday and that means it’s time to release our picks for the Fun Belt this weekend. Half the league has a bye so there is not much to select from this week as it’s going to be a pretty quiet weekend in the Fun Belt.

But don’t get to sad because we have some weekday football on the horizon. For the year with our picks, we are 31-8 straight up, 16-12-3 against the spread, and 16-15 against the total. It was a pretty mediocre week but we’re looking to bounce back in week five.

Game of the Week: Coastal Carolina at ULM (-7.5, Over/Under 52.5) 7:00 PM ET ESPN3

The Chanticleers will finally be playing their first conference game since joining the FBS and they should be fired up for this road trip. Meanwhile, it appears ULM has found their quarterback of the future and the schedule is setting up for Matt Viator’s club to make a run in Sun Belt play. Who will come out on top?

Coastal is coming off a brutal loss to FCS Western Illinois as they were stomped 52-10. Things were ugly from the jump for Jamey Chadwell’s squad as they easily played their worst game of 2017. Quarterback play remains a big issue for this group as Chadwell has played three guys and they’re still looking for answers.

This attack is led by their running game as Osharmar Abercrombie is leading the team in rushing. However, depth is there as Coastal has two reserves that are averaging over six yards per carry. Coastal has been able to consistently pick up big plays on the ground and if they can manufacture anything in the passing game this offense could really get rolling.

CCU is playing a lot of young guys on defense and therefore you’re seeing a lot of mistakes being made. Rookies by the names of Amir Howard, Silas Kelly, and Tarron Jackson have all been making plays all season and the future is bright for this unit.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Memphis
Can Caleb Evans stay hot against Coastal Carolina?
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Over in Louisiana, Caleb Evans put on a monster performance in the double overtime victory over UL-Lafayette. The sophomore was responsible for six touchdowns and ran for over 100 yards to go with 343 passing yards. He is the future.

This is an offense that lives off of explosive plays and there are plenty of wide receivers that can stretch the defense vertically. Evans gives the offense a nice dynamic running dimension and his emergence should start to open up running lanes for Derrick Gore.

The defense still has glaring issues as they are giving up big plays at an alarming rate. The defense has made strides since last season but there is still a lot for this group to work on. Linebackers David Griffith is a name you need to know but ULM is still searching for answers at multiple positions.

These two programs are meeting for the first ever time and I’m expecting a very competitive game. Coastal Carolina has to bounce back after their brutal performance last week while ULM probably dips a bit after being sky high off of the UL-Lafayette win. Expect points on explosive plays on Saturday night.

Chanticleers cover and the over hits. ULM 33, Coastal Carolina 30.

The rest of the Fun Belt...

New Mexico State (+17, Over/Under 61.5) at Arkansas Noon SEC Network

It’s an early start in Fayetteville as NMSU will take on the Hogs. The Aggies are fresh off an excellent win over rival UTEP while Arkansas was dealt a crushing defeat to Texas A&M in overtime last Saturday. It’s a tough spot for NMSU as they are sky high but will be facing a pissed off Arkansas squad. Points will be scored but the Hogs will win big.

Hogs cover and the over hits. Arkansas 44, New Mexico State 23.

Texas State (+16.5, Over/Under 45.5) at Wyoming 4:00 PM ET Facebook Live

In their big rivalry game against UTSA, the Bobcats came up short as they were dominated by the Roadrunners. The defense has played well in spots but the offense has some big issues. Josh Allen is a future first round pick but there is no doubt they’ve been playing some bad offense. However, I believe they break out of the slump here and the Cowboys will win big as Texas State slumps after two huge home games.

Cowboys cover and the over hits. Wyoming 33, Texas State 14.

Troy (+20.5, Over/Under 48.5) at #25 LSU 7:00 PM ET ESPNU

The Trojans head to Death Valley for the second season in a row but this time they’ll be taking on the Tigers. After a slow start, Troy is beginning to show some signs of life on offense as Brandon Silvers and Jordan Chunn are starting to heat up. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Ed Orgeron as the Tigers have not played well. To pull off this upset, Troy needs to connect on some vertical passes and I don’t think they can do it.

Trojans cover and the under hits. LSU 31, Troy 13.

South Alabama (+12.5, Over/Under 55.5) at Louisiana Tech 7:00 PM ET ESPN3

The Jags head on the road after a brutal home loss to Idaho and they are in desperate need of a win. Louisiana Tech returns back to Ruston after a heartbreaking loss to South Carolina. Both of these teams have offenses that are struggling so expect this to be a defensive dominated game that could be determined by a late turnover.

Jags cover and the under hits. Louisiana Tech 23, South Alabama 20.