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Three Things we learned from the Sun Belt in Week 9

Georgia Southern continues to fall, Arkansas State continues to rise, and we’re already looking forward to Coastal Carolina

NCAA Football: Idaho at Arkansas State
Watch out: Arkansas State is 3-0 in conference play.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t know who’s winning the conference, but it’s not Georgia Southern

In this week's battle between last year's Sun Belt powers, Appalachian State soundly thumped the Eagles 34-10. The loss brings the Eagles to 4-4 (3-2) on the season, making a conference title extremely unlikely since three other teams, including the Mountaineers, all sit undefeated atop the conference standings.

The Eagles looked lifeless on Saturday, scoring the opening ten points in the first quarter, then not scoring again for the rest of the game. Two quarterbacks combined for a whopping 94 passing yards for the Eagles, with three interceptions in there for good measure. The rushing core was lifeless as well, finishing with a sum total 65 yards on the day. The Mountaineers were indeed dominating, but you don’t see stats like this unless both sides are working equally hard to make the Eagles look terrible.

It seems the talent did indeed travel west in the off-season, as last year's coach Willie Fritz is having a respectable first year with Tulane, as meanwhile Southern lags way behind and is running the risk of irrelevancy at this point. Will current head coach Tyson Summers be able to turn things around in another year or two? Not if this week was any indication.

Arkansas State is still a threat, thanks largely in part to QB Justice Hansen

Despite the quality of their season so far, nobody really anticipated the Red Wolves having much of a problem with ULM this week. And they did not disappoint, putting up 434 yards of offense and socking away the Warhawks 51-10.

And so at the end of Week Nine, Red Wolves QB Justice Hansen sits atop the conference in QB rating (147.5), 8th in passing (1324 yards, but with over 40 fewer passing attempts than anyone else in the top ten), and with a 3-0 record in conference play.

After a rough start to the season, it’s good to see a strong arm keeping the Red Wolves competitive, as the team could very easily work their way back to a winning record, with games against Georgia State and New Mexico State over the next two weeks. On November 17th they head to Troy which could just be the #FunBelt game of the year, seeing as the Red Wolves don’t play App State, until this conference gets around to adding a championship game.

The Chanticleers are gonna fit right in

We haven’t had much to say about the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers yet this season, as they’ve been playing a full-FCS schedule in their mandatory year as an FCS Independent before matching up with some Sun Belt teams next year. But checking in, we see they moved to 6-2 this week, with those two losses coming by a combined total of TWO points. Yes, those two losses were a 1-pt loss to Jacksonville State back on Sep. 17, and then another 1-pt loss to Charleston Southern on Oct. 1.

That’s an impressive run at any level of the college football hierarchy, and with a win this week over Presbyterian, the Chanticleers would technically be bowl eligible if they were playing at the FBS level.

It will be some time before we learn how well these players will do against the top of the Sun Belt, but in a year of nothing but non-conference games, they’ve been dominating. We eagerly await to see them join the conference ranks next year, particularly in the final year of a surprisingly competitive NMSU and Idaho.