This Week in the Sun Belt
Three weeks left in the regular season and both divisions still have plenty of scenarios for the potential champion. Here's what's going on in the league this week.
TROY (7-2, 5-0) (-1) at GEORGIA SOUTHERN (7-2, 4-1) 12:00 ESPN+--Troy fought hard to get a win over Louisiana at home to remain unbeaten, while the Eagles got their nose bloodied in Monroe. Now the two teams fight for at least a share of the lead in the East. Playing in Statesboro will help the Eagles in a must-win situation. Troy's offense under Sawyer Smith has improved each week. Georgia Southern's top notch secondary will have its hands full with Damien Willis. The health of B. J. Smith's ankle could play a part in this one. App fans will be rooting hard for Troy...and they would even if they had nothing at stake.
APPALACHIAN STATE (6-2, 4-1) (-21) at TEXAS STATE (3-6, 1-4) 3:00 ESPN3 May I have your attention, please. Texas State is on a winning streak. The Bobcats have won back to back games for the first time since 2014 and a rapidly improving defense deserves credit. That defense will be tested against an App State offense that should have Zac Thomas back. When he's in the game, App can score. Texas State is going to have a difficult time against the App defense.
GEORGIA STATE (2-7, 1-4) (+14) at LOUISIANA (4-5, 2-3) 4:00 ESPN+--The Panthers are playing a ton of freshmen and redshirt freshmen and it shows in their record. Their pass defense has really struggled and that could mean a big day for Andre Nunez. Meanwhile, Dan Ellington was knocked out of the game last week and his status is up in the air. The aptly named Aaron Winchester will sling it around if Ellington can't go. Cajuns need to be wary of Penny Hart, both as a WR and as a kick returner. He might be the most dangerous player in the entire league. Cajuns control their own destiny in the West.
ULM (5-4, 3-2) (-6') at SOUTH ALABAMA (2-7, 1-4) 4:00 ESPN+--After stumbling during the first half of the campaign, including an inexplicable loss to Georgia State, the streaking Warhawks have won three in a row and control their destiny in the West. The sputtering Jags offense could have some success moving the ball this week, but their defense will have a tough time stopping ULM. The X-factor? ULM is coming off a big win over GS and has Arkansas State next week. Beware the trap.
ARKANSAS STATE (5-4, 2-3) (-6') at COASTAL CAROLINA (5-4, 2-3) 4:00 ESPN+--There is absolutely no room for error for the Red Wolves. The preseason favorite needs to win out and have Louisiana lose a game to get to December 1. First, they have to get bowl eligible. Coastal also is hoping for a postseason game and the winner of this game will be smiling when it's done. A bowl berth would be a great accomplishment for Joe Moglia's team in its first year of eligibility. But this one won't be easy.