The championship game is set, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing that happened this week in the Sun Belt Conference. The weekend was headlined by a beatdown of Coastal Carolina at the hands of James Madison.
Georgia Southern reached bowl eligibility with a double overtime win against Appalachian State, keeping the Mountaineers out of the postseason. Marshall fought off Georgia State for their eighth win. Southern Miss and Louisiana also became bowl eligible while Troy and South Alabama cemented ten-win seasons.
Here were my three most important notes from the last week of the regular season.
Troy Win The West
The Trojans were dominant in a 48-19 road win against Arkansas State to clinch the division.
Troy outscored Arkansas State 34-0 in the fourth quarter to win their ninth-straight game and make their first appearance in the SBC championship game.
The Trojans will host the SBC championship game with the better overall record than the representatives from the East. That’s set to kick on Saturday, December 3 at 2:30 PM CT.
November 26, 2022
Despite a slow first half for the Trojans, Sumrall indicated he had zero doubt his team would win the game.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Sumrall said of his team’s performance in clinching the division. “It’s been a goal since January and I’m proud of them being able to see that goal through. Still got work to do. Not done yet.”
James Madison Win The East...Technically
JMU’s first season in FBS exceeded the expectations of many. The Dukes wrapped things up with an 8-3 overall record and a 6-2 conference record. Because the Dukes have the same conference record as Coastal Carolina, but now possess the head-to-head win over their division foes, they’re technically the champions of the East and are celebrating as such. However, because of the NCAA’s rules surrounding the transition from FCS to FBS, they are not eligible to play in the conference championship game or in a bowl game.
JMU trounced the Chants 47-7 on Saturday. Coastal were once again without Grayson McCall, but the Chants had a worse result than the last few outings without him.
JMU quarterback Todd Centeio finished his college career on a high note with five total touchdowns and 17 completions on 32 attempts for 287 yards. Centeio also rushed for 25 yards on six attempts. It’s clear that Centeio relished the opportunity this season provided him, regardless of postseason possibilities.
“I was written off after last season,” the transfer from Colorado State said postgame. “People told me I wasn’t good. And to come out here and be a part of this team and help this team win in the fashion that I did, I made people eat their words. That’s the best feeling...There’s no doubt that we’re Sun Belt East champs. Everybody in the country knows that.”
#GoDukes pic.twitter.com/Rn6AZa56Wy— JMU Football (@JMUFootball) November 26, 2022
A Change At Texas State
Texas State became the first Sun Belt school of the offseason to make a change at head coach. Jake Spavital was fired on Sunday following a handy loss to Louisiana on the program’s senior day.
Spavital had one year remaining on his five-year contract and will collect a buyout of $400,000.
RELATED: Coaching Carousel: Jake Spavital Out at Texas State
“Jake has been a tremendous member of our Bobcat community for four years, engaging our fans and donors, recruiting tremendous young men to wear our uniform, and acting as a man of integrity and character,” Texas State athletic director Don Coryell said Sunday in a statement. “Ultimately, we simply did not win enough games and make the desired progress for us to believe that the immediate future would be different. On behalf of Texas State Athletics, I want to thank Jake for his service, and we wish him, Mehgan, and their family all the best moving forward.”
Spavital had a slightly different take on the on-field product during his media availability on Saturday evening, preceding the news that he was fired.
“If you look at where we we were in 2019 and where we are now, we’re finally in a place where we can compete,” Spavital stated.
Coryell went on to say in his statement that the search for a new candidate is underway and that there will be no further comment from the university until they are ready to introduce a new candidate.