This Week in the Sun Belt
The second half of the 2018 football season begins this week and the Sun Belt schedule features all ten teams in action between Thursday and next Tuesday. There are four conference games and a pair of non conference games on tap.
GEORGIA STATE (2-4, 1-1)(+14') at ARKANSAS STATE (3-3, 0-2) 6:30pm ESPNU--They aren't happy in Jonesboro. Arkansas State, picked by the coaches to not only win the West Division, but to win the inaugural SBC Championship game, is 0-2 after consecutive losses to Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. If the Red Wolves are going to play on December 1st, they have no margin for error and that includes this game. A win doesn't guarantee Arkansas State anything, and it also doesn't guarantee the wolves will be away from Blake Anderson's door.
COASTAL CAROLINA (3-3) (+3') at UMASS (2-5) 2:30pm (Eleven Sports)--Coastal has dropped their last two after a 3-1 start. They've had to go with their backup quarterback the last two weeks and it's showed. They'll try independent UMASS this week. The Minutemen have lost their last two, to Ohio and South Florida. They are 0-1 against the Sun Belt, having lost to Georgia Southern.
LOUISIANA (3-3, 1-1) (+25') at APPALACHIAN STATE (4-1, 2-0) 2:30pm, ESPN+--The Cajuns have won two straight, but they're stepping up a couple of levels this week. App State will play its first full game without star running back Jalin Moore, but the story for the Mountaineers has been it's defense. App has not allowed a point in the second half in their four wins. That defense will get a test from the Louisiana offense that has scored 114 points in the last two weeks. But the Cajuns will have a tall order with the App State offense.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (5-1) (11') at NEW MEXICO STATE (2-5) 5:00pm AggieVision--If I had told you Georgia Southern would be the first SBC team to become bowl eligible you probably would have taken the bet. And, you probably would have lost. The Eagles have used their run game and solid defense to win five out of six, with their only loss to Clemson. The offense has to be licking its chops looking at an Aggies' defense that gave up 66 points and 759 yards last week.
TEXAS STATE (1-5, 0-3) (+10') at ULM (3-4, 1-2) 6:00 pm ESPN3--Texas State played its best defensive game of the year last week and had nothing to show for it. Their offense just couldn't get untracked against Georgia Southern. Now the embattled Everett Withers and his club head to Monroe and their defense is going to have to step up again against a potentially high powered Warhawks' offense looking to get back to the .500 mark.
TROY (5-2, 3-0) at SOUTH ALABAMA (2-5, 1-2) 7:00, ESPN2--The bad news is Troy suffered a tough loss at Liberty last week. The good news is, it was a non conference game. The Trojans have their goals still in front of them, and Sawyer Smith has an opportunity to take a step forward after the Troy offense struggled after the loss of quarterback Kaleb Barker. South has had its struggles this year, especially offensively, but they'll be ready to play in this one.