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Three Things We Learned From The Sun Belt - Week 8

Troy now has a strong lead in the SBC West and Khalan Laborn is having an incredible individual season.

NCAA Football: Troy at Appalachian State Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

As Louisiana gets ready to face off against Louisiana on Thursday night, we should review the previous week of Sun Belt action to see what insights can be gained.

There was an early start with a decisive Wednesday Appalachian State win over Georgia State powered by their aggressive and impressively effective run game. Troy followed that with a low-scoring victory over South Alabama on Thursday.

Then on Sunday, ULM couldn’t finish the mission against a surging Army team, Marshall handed James Madison a second consecutive loss, Georgia Southern held on against Old Dominion, Louisiana had little trouble with Arkansas State, and Southern Miss picked up an important road win against Texas State.

Here’s what we learned from the eighth week of Sun Belt football.

Khalan Laborn Makes History

Khalan Laborn has been far and away the best running back in the Sun Belt and one of the best running backs in all of FBS this season. The sixth-year transfer from Florida State became the first Marshall player to total 1,000 yards in only seven games with his performance against James Madison this week.

Laborn is second in all of FBS with 1002 rushing yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with 12. Against JMU’s highly coveted rush defense, Laborn turned in 151 yards with two touchdowns.

“For us to come out today and run the ball efficiently, hats off to the coaches, hats off to the players, really good job,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said to the media following that performance.

Troy Now Leads The West

In an incredibly important game against South Alabama, the Troy Trojans came through with a 10-6 victory that put them in great position to win the Sun Belt West.

Despite a tough day in this game, Troy’s rushing attack has now put up five straight games with at least 100 yards and the offense itself is fourth nationally in pass plays of at least 30 yards per game (2.4) and is averaging 4.6 pass plays of at least 20 yards per game.

“We got grit,” head coach Jon Sumrall said of his team after the victory. “I don’t know if we know how to play offensive football and score points yet, but we dang sure got grit and toughness. These kids, over and over again, have found a way to answer the bell and get themselves off the mat and go play really hard each and every week.”

Now the owners of a five game winning streak, bowl eligibility, and a 4-2 record in conference play, the Trojans are on a bye until they travel to Louisiana on November 5.

The Top Passing Offense Is...Georgia Southern!

After watching decades and decades of Georgia Southern running the triple option, it’s still strange to see the Eagles slinging it around to the extent that they are. Even so, they’re doing it very well, all things considered.

Clay Helton’s team are 5-3 and through eight games, they’re leading the Sun Belt in completions (232), passing attempts (375), total passing yards (2704), and passing yardage per game (338). In their most recent contest against Old Dominion, Kyle Vantrease 22-of-27 for 192 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Vantrease is second only to Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. in passing yardage and passing yardage per game in all of FBS.

Were this matchup against Old Dominion not the first time that the Georgia Southern defense has held an opponent to less than 30 points all season, or if the offense had been a bit less careless with the ball all season, Georgia Southern may be higher in the SBC standings.