Week six was a full slate of league play in the Sun Belt Conference. With the regular season halfway over for some teams, we’re starting to see who really is who.
Coastal Carolina are going bowling and improve to 6-0 after picking up their first win at ULM in three attempts. Troy played just a bit better than Southern Miss to stay in contention for the West. Texas State beat Appalachian State in a San Marcos shocker. Georgia State won the latest chapter in their rivalry with Georgia Southern. Plus, people are really starting to notice how good this James Madison team is.
These were my most notable notes from the Sun Belt slate this weekend.
State Not Southern, Once Again
The clash between the Panthers and the Eagles gave us just about everything we want in a good rivalry game. That included a lot of points, a lot of penalties, and a lot of jawing. The Panthers ended up making it three-straight wins in their battle with the boys from Statesboro. The final score was 41-33.
The GSU defense forced a school-record five turnovers and tied their program record for interceptions with four. Offensively, the Panthers had their run game working as Jamyest Williams and Tucker Gregg combined for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Darren Grainger also ran for 70 yards while passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
The frustrating thing about this, if you’re a Panthers fan, has to be the fact that they have begun to play their best football now that the season is half over. Georgia State still has the likes of Appalachian State and James Madison on their schedule, making a bowl berth an incredibly difficult task.
Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Bobcat Stadium
Texas State is 3-0 at home to start the season. That’s the first time since the 2012-2013 season. With a record of 3-3, the Bobcats are off to their best start since the 2014 season. They finished 7-5 that year.
The latest victim of Texas State’s home cooking was a shocked Appalachian State team, who pick up their second conference loss of the season. Layne Hatcher was 26-of-26 passing with 281 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. App State had little offensive momentum until there was far too little time left on the clock. The Bobcats came away with a 36-24 victory in front of the largest crowd the Bobcats have drawn for a conference game.
It was the closest thing the Bobcats have to a signature win in the Jake Spavital era.
“If I could take a picture of it and frame it, I would want to see that moment every day,” Spavital said postgame. “We haven’t had that here; I mean we have but not like this. Fans and everybody in there, I couldn’t ask more, and I appreciate it.”
James Madison Are Ranked
The Dukes needed just five weeks of playing in FBS to crack the AP Top 25. Sunday’s poll put the Dukes at #25 after their latest victory over Arkansas State.
It’s not just that JMU seems to be having little issue adjusting to the Sun Belt, it’s the way they’re doing it so far. JMU has held an opponent to 20 or fewer rushing yards three times this season. They continue to lead the league in scoring offense and defense and have allowed only five sacks on the year. Despite playing in only four games, running back Percy Agyei-Obese has one of the highest rushing averages in the league with 88.5 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry.
It’s a damn shame that the Dukes are ineligible for postseason play this year while the complete the mandatory FBS transition period. Who knows how this season could end, otherwise.