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Three Things we learned about the Sun Belt in Week 11

Troy is back with a vengeance, Arkansas State recovers their season, and Louisiana won’t stay down for long

Troy v Georgia Southern
Troy and first year coach Neal Brown are 5-0 in the Sun Belt.
Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages

The Troy Trojans are the best team in the Sun Belt

We suspected this, of course, when they came this close to knocking off Clemson earlier this season (a feat finally accomplished by Pitt this week), but judging by the way the Trojans continue to eat up conference opponents, Neal Brown may be seeing a significant pay bump— not to mention some new scenery— sooner rather than later.

The Trojans knocked off the Mountaineers of Appalachian State this week, the odds-on favorite to win the conference since... well, since they joined in the first place. This one went down to the wire, as it was tied at halftime, and the margin was only four going into the 4th. In the end, though, Troy emerged victorious to remain unbeaten in conference play.

This sets up a show-down with suddenly surging Arkansas State in just five days, another team tearing through the conference despite a much rougher start. If Troy can take care of business there, however, they’re set— a loss the following week to Texas State seems unlikely, and the following week to Georgia Southern only slightly less so, due to the season the Eagles are having. Troy’s first conference title since 2010 is within reach.

And speaking of Arkansas State...

Arkansas State is the clear runner-up

What a difference conference play can make, eh? The Red Wolves entered conference play 0-4, including a loss to FCS Central Arkansas. We have no idea what head coach Blake Anderson said to the team after that game, but they haven’t lost since then, currently standing at 5-4 (5-0) heading into Thursday’s match-up with the Trojans.

Win or lose Thursday, a bowl game is now extremely likely for the Red Wolves, as they do not play Appalachian State this year. Following the Troy game, their final two match-ups of the season are ULL and Texas State, both of which now seem very much within reach.

A tie for second place in the conference is now the worst-case scenario for the Red Wolves. They’ve showed us all they’re still serious contenders in the conference and, despite any early-season woes, could be a serious challenger in whatever bowl game they draw, though it looks like it might not be one close to home. The Texas State and UL-Lafayette games may be the last chance for fans to see them locally, for some time.

And speaking of UL-Lafayette...

Don’t give up hope on the Louisiana schools just yet

UL-Lafayette (or just UL, if they had their way) managed to beat Georgia Southern this week, bringing them to 3-3 in conference, and 4-5 overall. A bowl game isn’t likely here, but this is encouraging for the future after the season they’ve had. Historically, the Cajuns have had a great program, and probably won’t be down for very long.

Meanwhile, the Warhawks of UL-Monroe won yet again, slightly more unusual for them, knocking off Georgia State to reach 4-6 (3-3) on the season. Second-year coach Matt Viator continues to make noticeable strides, and looks to finish the year respectably, with a probable loss next week to App State, and a season finale against ULL that could go either way.

Any way you shake it, this has been a competitive season in Sun Belt football, and with the membership shrinking after next season, the competition won’t be letting up one bit.