How Many Sun Belt Teams Will Go Bowling – From the Bird’s Nest
The Sun Belt Conference has five bowl tie-ins for the 2018 season.
The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Dollar General Bowl (Mobile), the Camellia Bowl (Montgomery) the Cure Bowl (Orlando) and the NOVA Loans Arizona Bowl (Tempe) all have slots reserved for Sun Belt teams.
But there are as many as seven teams that can reasonably gain bowl eligibility.
Georgia Southern and Troy have already qualified. And, technically, no Sun Belt team has been eliminated, although at least one will be out after this weekend.
Here's a look around the league at each team with their remaining games
APPALACHIAN STATE (5-2, 3-1): at Coastal Carolina, at Texas State, Georgia State, Troy
The Mountaineers saw their hopes of winning the East take a big hit with their loss to Georgia Southern, but gaining bowl eligibility shouldn't be an issue. Depending on the availability of quarterback Zac Thomas, App will be favored in all of their remaining games. (The season finale against Troy is in Boone, which should make App the favorite.) We'll keep an eye on what happens in Conway this weekend.
ARKANSAS STATE (4-4, 1-3): South Alabama, at Coastal Carolina, ULM, at Texas State
By any stretch, it's been a disappointing season in Jonesboro, especially after starting 3-1 in non conference play. Those three wins loom large now. Arkansas State will probably be favored in their remaining games, although their trip to Conway and home game against ULM aren't the sure wins many thought earlier in the season. The Red Wolves will be big favorites against South Alabama and Texas State and should get to six wins, and, honestly, probably more.
COASTAL CAROLINA (5-3, 2-2) Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, at South Alabama
The Chanticleers need one win, but the remaining schedule looms. They do get three at home, but they will be against three of the better teams in the league. If they can't get one of those, their fate lies in winning on the road, albeit against a struggling South Alabama team. Not many expected Joe Moglia's club to qualify in their first year of eligibility, but they've got a great chance to play a 13th game
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (7-1, 4-0) at ULM, Troy, at Coastal Carolina, at Georgia State
The Eagles have already qualified but have some bigger fish to fry as they try to clinch the host spot for the Sun Belt title game. That is not to say there isn't a potential land mine or two. While they will be favored at ULM and at Coastal Carolina, both of those teams have some capabilities. Troy certainly won't be easy, even in Statesboro. And, Georgia State has had the Eagles' number the last couple of years...but the Eagles will be a big favorite in that one.
GEORGIA STATE (2-6, 1-3) Texas State, at Louisiana, at Appalachian State, Georgia Southern
The non conference schedule didn't do the Panthers any favors as they went 1-3, with their only win against FCS Kennesaw State. They are a favorite this week, but will be underdogs in their final three games. No one is expecting GSU to run the table, which is what they need to get to six wins.
LOUISIANA (4-4, 2-2) at Troy, Georgia State, South Alabama, at ULM
The Cajuns got a big win Saturday against Arkansas State and control their own destiny in the West Division race. They are an underdog this week, but will be favored in their final two home games, and they close with a toss up game in Monroe. Nothing is certain here, but Louisiana took a big step with their win over the Red Wolves and will be favored to get to six wins.
ULM (4-4, 2-2) Georgia Southern, at South Alabama, at Arkansas State, Louisiana
Winning against Southern Miss early in the season put the Warhawks in good shape...then they took a step back in their game against Georgia State. ULM will be favored against South Alabama. With Georgia Southern coming off a big win and facing Troy next week, ULM might be catching the Eagles at a good time. Arkansas State has shown themselves to be vulnerable, but the Warhawks have not had success in Jonesboro. It's quite possible their final game against the Cajuns could be a must win in order to get to six wins.
SOUTH ALABAMA (2-6, 1-3) at Arkansas State, ULM, at Louisiana, Coastal Carolina
Steve Campbell's first year with the Jaguars has proven to be a difficult one, as wins over Texas State and Alabama State are all they've been able to accomplish. And, there are no sure wins the rest of the way. South should be eliminated from bowl contention after next week.
TEXAS STATE (2-6, 0-4) at Georgia State, Appalachian State, at Troy, Arkansas State
Bobcat fans are split as to whether to fire the head coach or the athletic director after another miserable football season. They did get a win over New Mexico State this past weekend, but, in reality this week is their only winnable game the rest of the year.
TROY (6-2, 4-0) Louisiana, at Georgia Southern, Texas State, at Appalachian State
The Trojans have taken care of bowl eligibility and now look to try and win the East. But they get an improving Louisiana squad before heading to Statesboro for a showdown with Georgia Southern. And, they still have a trip to Appalachian State and they have those tasks without quarterback Kaleb Barker. Still, the Troy defense is among the best in the league and the Trojans feel they can run the table. We'll see.
If all seven teams are able to get to six wins, will there be enough slots to accommodate all of them? Time will tell.