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Sun Belt Power Rankings: Week 1

Mountaineers impress vs. Penn State to start atop the conference

Appalachian State v Penn State Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

1. Appalachian State

Last week: Lost 45-38 in OT at Penn State; This week’s game: Saturday at Charlotte

The Mountaineers’ comeback from two scores down in the fourth quarter punctuated some of the grit fans can expect this year. It’s a loss, but the confidence boost should prove helpful moving forward.

2. Arkansas State

Last week: Won 48-21 vs. SE Missouri St.; This week’s game: Saturday at Alabama

The Red Wolves look locked and loaded with reigning Player of the Year and Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week Justice Hansen throwing six touchdowns to begin his senior campaign. A trip to Tuscaloosa awaits.

3. Troy

Last week: Lost 56-20 vs. Boise St.; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Florida A&M

I’m not going to overreact to a loss at a very dangerous-looking Boise State squad. Still, the Trojans will need to take better care of the ball (four turnovers) if it wants to avoid a fall on this power rankings.

4. UL Monroe

Last week: Won 34-31 vs. Southeast Louisiana; This week’s game: Saturday at Southern Miss

Caleb Evans was sensational, and the offense was very efficient on third downs (11-for-18). The defense was not. An unnecessary nail-biter, but still a ‘W.’ Get Evans and Company on the field as much as possible and good things happen.

5. Georgia Southern

Last week: Won 37-6 vs. South Carolina St.; This week’s game: Saturday vs. UMass

Shai Werts lead the ground attack with 163 yards and three touchdowns. The defense looked in tune as well. The Eagles will need to show more offensive balance if they want revenge for last year’s loss against the Minutemen.

6. Louisiana

Last week: Won 49-17 vs. Grambling; This week’s game: Off

Billy Napier gets win No. 1 after dismantling an overmatched Grambling team. They will need extra preparation during their off week if they want to make the most of their trip to Starkville to play Mississippi State.

7. Georgia State

Last week: Won 24-20 vs. Kennesaw St.; This week’s game: Saturday at NC State

A touchdown pass to Diondre Champaigne was the difference for the Panthers on Thursday. They will need weapons opposite superstar Penny Hart to kick this offense into high gear. Starting the game down 14-0 this week, however, is ill-advised.

8. South Alabama

Last week: Lost 30-26 vs. Louisiana Tech; This week’s game: Saturday at Oklahoma St.

It’s hard to not blame those four turnovers for why the Jaguars are not 1-0 heading into a showdown with the Cowboys this week. Still, three forced turnovers and a nice second half comeback are quality points of hope for 2018.

9. Coastal Carolina

Last week: Lost 49-15 at South Carolina; This week’s game: Saturday vs. UAB

Joe Moglia’s return to the sideline is perhaps the best thing Chanticleer fans saw this weekend. There were some nice takeaways in small doses. Speaking of which, if they can produce a few takeaways vs. UAB this week, watch out.

10. Texas State

Last week: Lost 35-7 at Rutgers; This week’s game: Saturday vs. Texas Southern

Nowhere to go but up for the Bobcats. With only a defensive touchdown to call their own, the offense must find some continuity.

And fast.