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Sun Belt Bets to Take and Avoid

Gamble at your own risk, but some of these picks are rock solid.

Courtesy of the Arkansas State Athletic Department
Courtesy of the Arkansas State Athletic Department

Odds are as published by Sports Betting Dime and the DraftKings Sportsbook; they are accurate as of July 8, 2021.

College football doesn’t start for another couple months, but gambling on college football in a year-round game. With a (hopefully) corona-free season on the horizon, Vegas has established its odds for the 2021 Sun Belt season.

sunbelt odds 7/8/21

Team Odds
Team Odds
Louisiana +125
Coastal Carolina +200
Appalachian State +400
Troy +1600
Georgia State +1800
Arkansas State +2500
Texas State +2500
Georgia Southern +3300
South Alabama +5000
ULM +10000
Odds via Sports Betting Dime and DraftKings Sportsbook; accurate as of July 8, 2021

Louisiana is the Vegas favorite. Billy Napier is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns; Louisiana is correspondingly coming off its third consecutive season with a positive record for in-conference matchups. They’ve got 20 returning starters per Athlon Sports including the most solid O-line in the Sun Belt and an elite group of defensive backs. At +125 odds you’re earning $125 for every $100 you bet. Seeing that Louisiana should be one of the best Group of Five programs in the country, they are the strong chalk choice.

Coastal Carolina is the easy bet of the season. A successful win triples your bet at +200 odds; a line incredibly in the bettors favor, considering the Chanticleers will be contending for a high-profile Bowl game appearance again. Their 2020 season featured upsets over the Big 12’s Kansas Jayhawks and No. 8 ranked BYU. Coastal Carolina finished 14th in the AP Poll, next to programs like Indiana and North Carolina. The roster has seen no heavy-impact changes since then. Betting Coastal Carolina is betting on the best team in the conference, regardless of odds. As mentioned, your $100 bet wins you $200; great value for the best Sun Belt team.

At first glance, +400 Appalachian State looks like a steal, but stay away from the Mountaineers bet. Yes, they went 6-2 against Sun Belt opponents in 2020, and they are returning 17 starters. But they are without a quarterback or offensive line. Transfer Chase Brice is the likely starting QB; last season he turned the ball over 22 times while playing for Duke. That, in combination with an offensive line bringing in three new starters and one returning guard moving to center, spells trouble for App State. Without perhaps the two most important parts of a football team, the Mountaineers might not even make the conference championship game.

Outside of those three programs, you start to fall into teams that are dark horses, not teams that will reliably win you money.

Avoid Georgia State, Georgia Southern, and Troy at all costs. All three play in the Sun Belt’s East Division alongside Coastal Carolina and App State.

With that said, Arkansas State is a great value bet. +2500 odds bring you $25 for every dollar you put on the line. This upcoming season is the first for head coach Butch Jones; Jones was previously an assistant at Alabama. Jones has also coached at, and won conference titles with, Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

An anecdote about Butch Jones: in his first season with Central Michigan, he won the MAC. In his second with Cincinnati, he won the Big East. Jones wins rings with Group of Five programs and does so quickly.

In 2020 Arkansas State led the Sun Belt in total offense but could not convert their yards into points; an issue easily corrected with strong coaching. The defense, however, was porous; The Red Wolves allowed the second-lowest yards per game in the Sun Belt.

Interestingly, two of the four conference championships Jones has won as a head coach came with teams that allowed more yards than they gained.

While they will have to surpass odds-on favorite Louisiana in the West Division, Arkansas State could surprise some folks. A bet for them is the highest value Sun Belt bet you may ever get.