Let’s dive right into the action from this past Sun Belt week..
1. App State (3-0) No movement: The App State faithful won’t call it an upset. They expected to go into Chapel Hill and win. The Mountaineers saw their beliefs come to fruition.
App State got the win by a margin of 34-31, secured by a last-second blocked field goal. In the victory, QB Zac Thomas threw for 224 yards and completed 20 of his 29 pass attempts. Thomas also contributed to the UNC turnover margin by allowing an INT.
RB Darrynton Evans led the ‘Neers on the ground with 78 yards and 3 scores on 19 carries. As conference play begins in the conference this week, App will need to keep its defense in check throughout the remainder of the season.
App will open conference play at home this week against Sun Belt rising star Coastal Carolina.
2. Troy (2-1) No movement: The Trojans traveled to Ohio this past week and got a win after defeating the Akron Zips. As usual, QB Kaleb Barker put on a show, as he threw for 214 yards, 3 scores, and one INT.
Barker completed 27 of his 37 pass attempts. RB DK Billingsly led the Trojans in rushing with a 100-yard game on 22 carries and one score. Several different Troy receivers helped in putting points on the board.
Wideouts Khalil McClain, Bret Clark, and AJ Lewis all found the end-zone. Troy will need to continue to build off of their offensive fire-power as they welcome conference foe Arkansas State to town this weekend for 6 p.m. kickoff.
3. Louisiana (3-1) Up one from No. 4: Louisiana, like Troy, also traveled to Ohio this past weekend to face the Ohio University Bobcats. The Cajuns continue to show that they might have the most loaded backfield in the Sun Belt.
In the 45-25 victory, RB Elijah Mitchell showcased his abilities with 3 scores and 143 yards on 17 carries. Mitchell was also averaging an impressive 8.4 yards per carry.
RB Trey Ragas also had a good day on the ground, with 129 yards on 15 carries and one TD. QB Levi Lewis showed that he can still make things happen through the air with 188 yards and 2 scores, while completing 19 of his 29 attempts.
Louisiana will have the momentum as they travel to Statesboro this week to take on the Eagles of Georgia Southern for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
4. Georgia Southern (1-2) Down one from No. 3: The Eagles had a week off to help nurse the collective morale in Statesboro after the Eagles lost in heart-breaking fashion to Minnesota last week in Minneapolis.
The Eagles will need to have had a good week of preparation as they will welcome a very good Louisiana team into the confines of Paulson Stadium.
The difference in this match-up may very well be the extra time that the Eagles had to prepare for the Cajuns’ high-powered offensive attack.
5. Arkansas State (2-2) No Movement: The Red Wolves got back on track this week and moved to 2-2 on the season after a win at home against FCS Southern Illinois, 41-28. QB Logan Bonner put up big numbers in this contest.
Bonner completed 17 of his 31 attempts and added 320 yards through the air with 4 TDs. Wideouts Omar Bayless and Kyle Merritt each had over 100 yards receiving, with Merritt finding the end-zone twice and Bayless finding the end-zone once.
Arkansas State will open up conference play on the road this weekend at conference power Troy.
6. Coastal Carolina (3-1) Up one from No. 7: The Chanticleers are on a roll after they defeated the Minutemen of UMass this past week. RB CJ Marable continues to be the deciding factor in Coastal’s offense.
Marable had 15 carries for 100 yards and two TDs. QB Fred Payton had a decent outing as well, accounting for 203 yards and score, while completing 16 of his 18 pass attempts, despite giving up an INT.
Coastal will be an interesting team to watch as conference play begins this weekend. They may surprise you at the end of the season. Coastal will open up conference play this week against conference power-house App State in Boone.
7. GA State (2-2) Down one from number 6: After starting off red-hot in week one defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, GA State finds themselves even in the count at 2-2 after a loss at the hands of the Texas State Bobcats.
Although this game was decided in 3 OTs, a loss is still a loss, and it hurts to lose. In the loss, QB Dan Ellington showed some positivity offensively as he threw for 219 yards with 3 TDs. Ellington went 24 of 39 on his pass attempts and gave up an INT.
The Panthers will need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball if they want to stay competitive as they get deeper into Sun Belt play.
8. Texas State (1-3) Up two from No. 10: The Bobcats may have three losses, but those losses may seem less significant as they are now 1-0 in Sun Belt play after an impressive 3 OT victory against the GA State Panthers.
As some of you may remember from my preseason rankings, I felt that this Bobcats team may be a sleeper in the western division, so keep your eyes on TX State as the season progresses.
This win was mainly a product of excellent special teams production, as kicker Joshua Rowland went a perfect 3-3 on FGs and 4-4 on PATs. Texas State will face an FCS opponent in Nichols State this weekend at home.
9. ULM (1-2) Down one from No. 8: The Warhawks took a bruising on the road this past week in Ames at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones.
There aren’t many positives that can be taken away from this loss, except that QB Caleb Evans still threw for 2 TDs and almost 200 yards despite losing 72-20.
ULM’s defense will have to improve if they want to have any shot at competing in the Sun Belt this season. ULM will open up conference play at home this weekend against South Alabama.
10. South Alabama (1-3) Down one from No. 9: The Jaguar’s non-conference schedule has been absolutely brutal.
The Jags have lost to Nebraska, Memphis, and now UAB. South Alabama will need to find a groove somewhere in order to even have a chance at winning a game in the Sun Belt this year.