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2018 S&P+ Projections: Here’s how the computers are calling for the Sun Belt to play out

Per the numbers, there is a clear upper class in the Fun Belt.

Dollar General Bowl - Appalachian State v Toledo
App State will be the favorite to three-peat in the Sun Belt.
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

SB Nation’s own Bill Connelly has released his S&P+ projections for 2018 and much like we did for the C-USA, we’re here to breakdown how the computers see the upcoming football season shaking out.

Earlier this offseason, we released an early addition of power rankings for the league and you’ll see that S&P+ disagrees with us a bit on quite a few teams.

2018 S&P+ Projections

Rank Team Recruiting Impact Returning Production Weighted 5-year Proj. S&P+
Rank Team Recruiting Impact Returning Production Weighted 5-year Proj. S&P+
63 Appalachian State 109 34 51 1.8
66 Arkansas State 89 41 81 1.4
78 Troy 97 55 93 -1.1
106 Georgia Southern 106 104 67 -8.5
107 ULM 102 95 122 -9.1
109 South Alabama 118 101 90 -9.5
113 Georgia State 94 109 121 -11.1
118 Coastal Carolina 128 113 99 -12.1
121 UL-Lafayette 120 119 95 -13.3
123 Texas State 100 122 128 -14.6

Clear Upper Class

Much like in 2016 and 2017, the conference title will be a three-team race as Appalachian State, Arkansas State, and Troy appear to be heads and shoulders above the rest of the conference. Each program has a star coaching the team and even though two four-year starting quarterbacks have been lost, it’s not expected for either team to slip up much.

Floor is Rising

More likely than not, the Sun Belt will again be considered the worst conference in college football again in 2018 but there is no doubt this league is improving. With Idaho and New Mexico State now no longer in the fold, this is a 10-team league that appears to have a bright future.

Everett Withers and Texas State should take a big leap in year three, while expectations are high for new coaches Steve Campbell and Billy Napier at South Alabama and UL-Lafayette. respectively. The league is slowly improving and that is a good thing.

Sophomore Slump

Shawn Elliott did a remarkable job in his first season at Georgia State as the Panthers made it to the postseason and recorded their first bowl win in program history. However, this was a team that appeared to overachieve as they were excellent in one-possession games. The Panthers actually were pretty bad in home games and could be due some bad bounces. They also will have to replace quarterback Conner Manning. It could be a disappointing year in Atlanta.

Is Georgia Southern a sleeper?

It was a brutal season in Statesboro, so things cannot get much worse as Chad Lunsford takes over as the full-time head coach for the Eagles. Lunsford made two really good coordinator hires and with some talent returning we may be sleeping on the Eagles in 2018.