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Three Things We Learned From The Sun Belt - Week 4

As conference play intensifies, here’s where we see the cream of the crop start to rise to the top.

NCAA Football: James Madison at Appalachian State David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing I’m certain of in the Sun Belt at the moment, it’s that I’m getting less and less certain who’s going to win the league at this point.

A quick note from the editor: Apologies that this is a bit late this week. Life has been a bit crazier than usual this week.

Coastal Carolina remain undefeated, but there could be further issues ahead. South Alabama flexed their strengths in a home win against Louisiana Tech. Then, Texas State ran away with a victory against FCS Houston Christian.

Aside from that, there were surprises aplenty. James Madison came through with a big victory against Appalachian State, Old Dominion picked up their first conference win against Arkansas State, and Troy beat Marshall while holding the Herd to just seven points.

In the rivalry games of the weekend, Southern Miss churned out a victory against an undefeated Tulane team, and ULM shocked Louisiana in Monroe.

Specifically, Here’s what caught my eye from this past week.

Centeio is an Offensive POTY Candidate

With a record of 3-0, James Madison have been largely unfazed by the transition to FBS thus far. The Dukes lead the SBC in scoring offense despite playing in fewer games than most of the league.

A huge part of the team’s success has been due to the play of quarterback Todd Centeio. Centeio is also yet to throw an interception this season. Centeio was named Sun Belt offensive player of the week last week after completing 17 of 29 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns in their win over App State. Centeio also ran for 88 yards and a touchdown in that game.

Centeio is tied with App State quarterback Chase Brice for most passing touchdowns in the league with 11, currently. His numbers would likely be even more inflated had he played the second half against Norfolk State, but the Dukes showed their opponents mercy in that game after leading 35-0 at the half.

All together, the Dukes are top ten in the FBS in 11 statistical categories.

NCAA Football: James Madison at Appalachian State David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Miss Retakes A Historic Rivalry

We haven’t seen the Battle for the Bell in a few years, but its return was a welcome sight. 2022 marked the first time the game was played in Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, but it was the 33rd time overall that the Green Wave and the Golden Eagles squared off.

Southern Miss had lost the last two meetings, but they ended that streak on Saturday thanks to a great night by their defense and solid outing by quarterback Zach Wilke. Wilcke completed 17 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns on the evening.

USM’s defense had four sacks to bring their total to 14 for the year…Redshirt junior defensive back Eric Scott Jr. had an interception return for a touchdown that proved to be what put a Tulane victory out of reach.

After a performance like this, it makes you wonder what Will Hall’s squad have up their sleeve for the next few weeks. They’re on a bye in week five, but head to Troy on October 8.

McCall’s Leg And Coastal’s Other Injuries

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Army at Coastal Carolina Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Grayson McCall exited Coastal Carolina’s win over Georgia State last week with a sprained ankle. McCall didn’t do much at practice this week, but Jamey Chadwell has stated that he is expected to play.

That’s not entirely surprising given the competitive nature that McCall has shown the last few weeks. But if he is indeed playing with a sprained ankle, it stands to reason that will effect how the typically mobile quarterback approaches certain situations against Georgia Southern this week.

McCall is not the only injury the Chaticleers are dealing with at the moment. Running backs Reese White, Braydon Bennett and Aaron Bedgood will all be out. Star cornerback D’Jordan Strong is also questionable for this game.