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Sun Belt Power Rankings: Week 3

Troy takes down the Cornhuskers; Florence messes with the schedule; South Alabama comes from behind to win conference opener.

Troy v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

1. Troy

Last week: Won 24-19 at Nebraska; This week’s game: Saturday at UL Monroe

Down goes Power-5: Take-2.

To be fair, the opponent this time around (Nebraska) was not as daunting as last year (LSU), with the Cornhuskers still looking like a team trying to find their identity. However, this Troy win was more of the dominant-from-kickoff-to-buzzer.

Neal Brown is once again a name that will be tossed around as the heir apparent in a dozen or so ailing power programs.

Regardless, Caleb Evans and Marcus Green await next week. Trojan fans will remember the letdown against South Alabama last year after the big LSU win.

Coach Brown may bring that up during practice this week.

2. Appalachian State

Last week: Postponed vs. Southern Miss; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Gardner Webb

The Mountaineers get an unexpected week off with the hurricane slamming the coast.

Dropping Appalachian State was not an easy decision, as they hung right with a much better Big Ten program than Troy did. But there will be plenty to say about who is better than who later this season.

In the short term, a game against FCS squad Gardner Webb will be the final warmup before conference play begins.

3. Arkansas State

Last week: Won 29-20 at Tulsa; This week’s game: Saturday vs. UNLV

Justice Hansen and his arm was good (20-for-33, 191 yards).

Justice Hansen with his legs was great (14 carries, 80 yards and a touchdown).

But the Red Wolves’ defense was even better. stAte’s D-unit caused three turnovers, including a pick-six from Demari Medley.

Despite the score getting closer, a nice put away, 13-play drive that spent the final seven minutes and 56 seconds was an impressive finish.

4. UL Monroe

Last week: Lost 48-10 at Texas A&M; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Troy

The Warhawks got an angry bunch of Aggies last Saturday following a heartbreaking loss to Clemson.

A blocked field goal return for touchdown by Texas A&M in the second quarter hurt. An offense that was shut down in the second half kept the contest (only 24-10 at halftime) from getting interesting.

The Warhawks welcome Troy to campus on Saturday. A win would go a long way towards competing for a Sun Belt title.

5. Georgia Southern

Last week: Lost 38-7 at Clemson; This week’s game: Off

Clemson may have an entire defensive front that gets drafted high in the next two seasons.

Too much speed and talent up front to run a successful option attack against. However, the final score was not indicative of how well Georgia Southern played. The Eagle defense was impressive early on, forcing two turnovers and keeping the #2 team in the country off the board in the first quarter.

However, when your receiver (Obe Fortune) leads the team in passing for the game (40 yards) based on one trick play, wins become tough.

Some rest for the Eagles this week before the Red Wolves come to town.

Georgia Southern v Clemson
Coach Chad Lunsford was positive following a road loss at Clemson.
Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

6. Louisiana

Last week: Lost 56-10 at Mississippi St.; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Coastal Carolina

Competing with the Bulldogs was always going to be tough.

The defense looked overmatched against Mississippi State, who methodically wore down the Cajuns, scoring touchdowns on their first seven drives of the game. Allowing eight of 11 third down conversions will do that to you.

The offense looked OK between the 20s, but kept things conservative for quarterback Andre Nunez (21-for-29, 224 yards passing, one touchdown, one INT).

Their conference opener this week against Coastal Carolina may be the most intriguing on the in-conference slate.

7. Georgia State

Last week: Lost 59-22 at Memphis; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Western Michigan

After stopping the Tigers on three-and-out for their first possession, the Georgia State special teams unit allowed a fake punt conversion. They would score a few plays later on the same possession.

Panther mood: Deflated.

The Panthers never seemed to recover, with Memphis snow-balling the momentum downhill and into 59 points.

A winnable game looms on Saturday against Western Michigan.

8. Coastal Carolina

Last week: Won 58-21 at Campbell; Saturday at Louisiana

Yes, it was Campbell, but heck yes, it was impressive.

With only three days to truly prepare, the Chanticleers voluntarily hit the road and despite a sluggish start, wore down the Camels. They amassed 574 yards of total offense, including 333 on the ground behind the legs of Kilton Anderson, Torrance Marable, Marcus Outlow and Bryce Carpenter.

A short week now yields a slightly longer respite before a trip to Louisiana.

9. South Alabama

Last week: Won 41-31 vs. Texas St.; This week’s game: Saturday at Memphis

Say hi to your Sun Belt conference leaders at 1-0.

Evan Orth (24-for-33, 266 yards, two touchdowns) delivered with two fourth quarter touchdowns, but it was Jalen Thompson who made the play of the game with an interception and return that set the Jaguars up for a late put-away score.

South Alabama may have their first “W”, but they must play with more discipline. Three turnovers and 15 accepted penalties against them for 143 yards worth of yards from those penalties will not lead to many more “W”s.

10. Texas State

Last week: Lost 41-31 at South Alabama; This week’s game: Saturday at UT-San Antonio

It was right there.

Right.

There.

The Bobcats lead by a couple of scores in the third quarter, but 25 unanswered points doomed the Jaguars to yet another week in the power rankings’ basement. The unraveling negated a very efficient first half on both sides of the ball.

An in-state rumble with the Roadrunners is on deck.