Arkansas State isn’t hoisting that trophy alone
Arkansas State’s six-game win streak came to an end this week, at the hands of a feisty Ragin’ Cajuns squad. It was a hard-fought game and perhaps unexpected for the Red Wolves, given their opponent’s record, but at the end of the day the Red Wolves lost their bid to go undefeated in conference and fell to 6-5 (6-1).
On paper, the Red Wolves should’ve had this, as their offense gained over 200 yards more than the Cajuns. You can read our recap here, but whatever the reasons, the Sun Belt now has three teams with a single conference loss, heading into their final week.
In terms of conference respectability, this has been great, but in terms of a clear conference winner, we guess we’ll have to settle for co-champs this year, barring some unforeseen complications next week. Thankfully we’ll avoid this mess in the near future as the conference will implement a conference championship game in 2018.
UL-L will never say die
Speaking of the Cajuns, they’ve been the only Sun Belt team to manage a victory over the Red Wolves this season, a trend that’s likely to continue as the Red Wolves head to Texas State next week. The Cajuns, meanwhile, head to 4-7 ULM for an in-state rivalry and conclusion to their regular season.
At 5-6, a victory for ULL means a possible bowl game for a team that was more a victim of scheduling than anything. Despite lofty goals, the Cajuns could not manage wins against the likes of Boise State, Tulane, or Georgia. Still, it’s nice to see this squad swing for the fences, and perhaps next year will see a bit more success earlier in the season.
However it shakes out, 6-6 or even 5-7 is a respectable season for a rebuilding Cajuns squad, and they remain a team to watch in the #FunBelt.
The separation between Best & Worst in the Belt is clear
Parity in this conference seems more or less solid, with every team being within a conference win of the team ahead of it. Non-conference play, however, has been another issue entirely.
Appalachian State and Troy moved to nine wins overall this week, Idaho nabbed its seventh win, Arkansas State holds steady at six. With ULL an uncertainty at 5-6, everything points to a win next week, and 6-6 puts them a full two games ahead of their next closest competitor, with Georgia Southern and ULM both at 4-7.
From there on down, Georgia State, Texas State and NMSU have been absolutely terrible, along with the wild card that is South Alabama (1-6 in conference, 4-0 out of it).
There was a time, barely over a decade ago, when every Sun Belt team would start the season with two or three losses, so overall this has been a season of growth and new high-water marks, with the national waves made by the top of the Belt, particularly Troy. Now the lower half just needs to step up and do the same, since this year’s bowl teams have proven how and where it can be done.