1. Troy (Last Week: 3)
Last week: Won 35-21 at Georgia Southern; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Texas St.
The Sun Belt win streak moves to 12 and the Trojans regain control of their own destiny in the Sun Belt East.
The defense bottled up Shai Werts most of the day. Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week Antione Barker came up with two big sacks and had additional pressures from inside the Eagle backfield.
Quarterback Sawyer Smith continues to look solid, hitting Luke Whittemore for a 29-yard dagger to put the game away.
The Bobcats come calling Saturday.
2. Appalachian State (LW: 1)
Last week: Won 38-7 at Texas St.; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Georgia St.
Zac was back in a big way.
Sophomore quarterback Zac Thomas was efficient (25-for-36) and had 323 total yards and two touchdowns to help seal the game by the end of the third quarter.
The Mountaineers didn’t do anything wrong on Saturday, but Troy’s win and undefeated conference standing is too much to overlook for these power rankings.
If they take care of business against the Panthers on Saturday, consider the following week a conference semifinal matchup against Troy.
3. Georgia Southern (LW: 2)
Last week: Lost 35-21 vs. Troy; This week’s game: Saturday at Coastal Carolina
The defense forced a turnover and the offense made Troy pay early, taking a 14-3 lead.
The offense was flat from there on out, only mustering 291 total yards of offense for the rest of the game.
The bowl-eligible Eagles will need the top 2 teams need to fall for a scenario to play out where they have a chance at the Dec. 1 title game.
4. UL Monroe (LW: 4)
Last week: Won 38-10 at South Alabama; This week’s game: Saturday at Arkansas St.
Caleb Evans is looking like a potential frontrunner for Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.
The quarterback padded his resume against the Jaguars, turning in 367 yards through the air, 54 more on the ground and four combined touchdowns.
A breakout performance from senior D’Marius Gillespie (seven catches, 159 yards and a touchdown) is one more weapon opponents must now gameplan for.
A trip to Jonesboro looms. A win and Louisiana loss would clinch the Sun Belt West.
5. Louisiana (LW: 5)
Last week: Won 36-22 vs. Georgia St.; This week’s game: Saturday vs. South Alabama
Now that’s how you start a game.
Raymond Calais raced 92 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage and the Cajuns blew the game open in the fourth to move to 3-3 in the Sun Belt.
There is a lot of math involved in how Louisiana stays in contention for a Sun Belt West title based on how they play and how stAte and UL Monroe do on Saturday.
A win Saturday would go a long way from eliminating many of those bad mathematical scenarios.
6. Arkansas State (LW: 6)
Last week: Won 44-16 at Coastal Carolina; This week’s game: Saturday vs. UL Monroe
Six of the first seven offensive drives for stAte resulted in a touchdown. The only empty drive was a missed 32-yard field goal.
The Red Wolves looked balanced with the ball. And the defense seems to be solidifying down the stretch.
Is it too late?
The Red Wolves need to contain Caleb Evans or they can wave goodbye to the championship game.
7. Coastal Carolina (LW: 7)
Last week: Lost 44-16 vs. Arkansas St.; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Georgia Southern
A pair of ill-timed turnovers and a defense that couldn’t get off the field this past weekend were the culprits in a blowout loss.
At 5-5, the Chanticleers have chance No. 2 of 3 to get bowl eligible.
The face the Eagles at perhaps the best possible point in the season to play them, but will need to connect on some big offensive plays to keep pace.
8. Texas State (LW: 8)
Last week: Lost 38-7 vs. Appalachian St.; This week’s game: Saturday at Troy
Willie Jones III fumbled and was knocked out of the game on Texas State’s first drive of the game.
The Bobcats never got any traction after that.
After that first drive, Texas State ran 56 plays for 176 total yards the rest of the afternoon.
The defense will have their hands full on Saturday with a trip to Troy.
9. Georgia State (LW: 9)
Last week: Lost 36-22 at Louisiana; This week’s game: Saturday at Appalachian St.
Give the Panthers credit for sticking right with the Cajuns into the fourth quarter.
The offense going 2-for-13 on third downs was the main problem (even if they converted three fourth downs on some of those drives).
Louisiana seemed to wear down the Panther defense late in this game. Convert more of those third downs on offense and they could give the Mountaineers a scare on Saturday.
10. South Alabama (LW: 10)
Last week: Lost 38-10 vs. UL Monroe; This week’s game: Saturday at Louisiana
Allowing that touchdown just before halftime was a back-breaker for the Jaguars.
The offense was smothered in the second half, coming up with only 39 total yards in the final two quarters.
However, don’t tell the Jaguars they have nothing to play for.
They can still impact the Sun Belt West race with a win against Louisiana this weekend.