How Many Sun Belt Teams Will Be Bowl-Eligible? – From the Bird’s Nest
Last year, the Sun Belt Conference had seven bowl-eligible teams.
Unfortunately for them, only two, Louisiana and Arkansas State, played a 13th game.
So, what about this year?
Well, the number of bowls has expanded to 38 this year, meaning there will be eight more slots open. (The Miami Beach Bowl, the Bahamas Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl and the Camellia Bowl are the newcomers). That will make it more likely that teams that finish 6-6 will be playing somewhere after the regular season ends.
As of now, the Sun Belt does not have a bowl eligible team. South Alabama's win over Troy last night puts the Jaguars one win away.
Here's a look at the teams and what they'll have to do in order to be playing after December 1.
SOUTH ALABAMA (5-2)(4-1)--The Jaguars may be just one win away, but South Alabama will be favored in just one game the rest of the season. Road Trips to Louisiana and Arkansas State are next, and the Jags close with two non-conference games...South Carolina on the road and Navy at home. The Jaguars are capable of winning one or more of those, but their best bet to get to six is a home game against Texas State on November 15th.
LOUISIANA (4-3, 3-0)--The Cajuns got by a big hurdle Tuesday night against Arkansas State and will probably be favored in the rest of their games. The Cajuns will be big favorites over New Mexico State and Appalachian State. They'll also be a big favorite against Troy, but the Trojans will play their best game of the season, hoping to send Larry Blakeney out a winner. South Alabama will pose a challenge at home and the game at ULM is no gimme. But, all told, Louisiana is in pretty good shape, even though three of their last four are on the road.
ARKANSAS STATE (4-3, 2-1)--The Red Wolves got plenty of big plays from their offense but gave up a bunch defensively in their loss to Louisiana Tuesday night. The Red Wolves should be favored in the rest of their games. A-State has three of their last five at Centennial Bank Stadium. A road trip to Idaho is next, and Appalachian State and New Mexico State are down the road. The two toughest tests are South Alabama in Jonesboro on November 8th, and a road trip to Texas State the following week. Blake Anderson's team will have no problem being eligible.
TEXAS STATE (3-3,1-1) and ULM (3-3, 2-1)--I'm putting these two together because they mirror each other. They're playing TONIGHT at Malone Stadium in Monroe. The winner gets to four wins on the season. ULM has four of its last five games on the road, but that includes trips to App State and NMSU; games in which the Warhawks will be favored. If Texas State wins, they'll be two wins away as well, and they still have games versus New Mexico State and Georgia State (again, both on the road.) What about the loser? Well, they've got work to do. The loser gets loss #4. ULM still has road games at Texas A&M and at Georgia Southern. They get Louisiana at home. They'll be underdogs in all of those. Texas State still has Georgia Southern and Arkansas State in San Marcos and a road trip to South Alabama.
APPALACHIAN STATE (2-5, 1-2)--App has Georgia State and Idaho at home, both certainly winnable. But the Mountaineers would still have ULM (home) and Arkansas State and Louisiana (road). They'd have to win two of those. Not likely. That loss to Liberty just might be the difference.
NMSU, Idaho and Georgia State all have six losses already and they aren't going to come close to running the table. Troy has already lost seven games and will not play after November 29th.
But hey, wait, what about Georgia Southern??
Glad you asked.
The Eagles (5-2, 4-0) still have to go to Navy, but will be favored in their other four games. They should wind up with eight or nine wins...who knows...maybe ten. But the Eagles are in the second year of transition from the FCS to FBS. What does this mean? It means they are eligible to win the Sun Belt Championship, but not eligible for a bowl game
Well, a lot has to happen. First, there have to be bowl slots available after all eligible bowl teams have been placed (that's 6-6 or better). But could be folks waiting in line ahead of the Eagles.
UCLA in 2011 and Georgia Tech in 2012 both won division titles with 6-6 records but lost their championship game to finish 6-7. Both went to bowl games. This scenario gets priority after the 6-6 teams have been placed.
The second tier is for teams that are 6-6, with two wins over FCS opponents, even if those FCS schools offer few, if any, scholarships. So yes, a win over Princeton would count.
The third priority would be a 6-7 team that played a 13 game regular season schedule. That would be teams that played at Hawai'i that chose to play 13 games. This year, those teams are Washington (5-2), Utah State (4-3) and UNLV (2-5) and, of course, Hawai'i (2-5).
After all those teams are slotted, if there are any slots left, then Georgia Southern will play in a bowl.
So, how many will be bowl eligible? Who knows. Arkansas State and Louisiana will get there. South Alabama should. So should the Texas State-ULM winner. But after that, hwo knows. One of those four will look for an at-large shot. The other three will play in the three Sun Belt designated bowls (New Orleans, Camellia, Godaddy.)