This Week in the Sun Belt – From the Bird’s Nest
Just two weeks left in the regular season and nothing has been decided as far as the match up for the inaugural Sun Belt Championship Game (Dec.1, 11am, ESPN) is concerned.
And, two more teams can become bowl eligible this week which would bring the number to a record seven teams.
Three of the contenders are double digit favorites, which makes this week a bit of a trap game for all three. But no one is expecting any of them to lose.
Here's what's on tap:
GEORGIA STATE (2-8, 1-5) (+28') at APPALACHIAN STATE (7-2, 5-1) 1:30, ESPN+--Panthers have struggled mightily down the stretch and the loss of Dan Ellington surely hasn't helped. Ellington should be back this week...but Zac Thomas is back for the Mountaineers and that doesn't bode well. for GSU. We'll forgive the Mountaineers if they're looking ahead a bit to next week. It probably won't matter. At least it isn't supposed to snow.
ULM (6-4, 4-2)(+8) at ARKANSAS STATE (6-4, 3-3) 2:00 ESPN+--This is the feature game in the league this week, between two teams that can still win the West Division. A ULM win sets up a showdown with Louisiana next week (provided the Cajuns take care of business against South Alabama). If the Red Wolves win, they would still need for Louisiana to lose a game. A ULM loss eliminates them unless Arkansas State loses at Texas State next week, and no one is counting on that to happen. Both teams have dynamic quarterbacks and this could come down to which QB makes the fewest mistakes.
TEXAS STATE (3-7, 1-5) (+23') at TROY (8-2, 6-0) 2:30, ESPN+-- The Bobcats are improving on both sides of the football, especially defensively. And, on offense, their two quarterback system has improved. But they're taking a big bite this week against a Troy team that has gotten over the loss of their starting quarterback. We will forgive Troy if they're looking ahead to next week, but it's not likely they'll pay a big price if they are.
SOUTH ALABAMA (2-8, 1-5) (+17) at LOUISIANA (5-5, 3-3) 4:00pm, ESPN3--Sure, next week's game against ULM is big, but so is this one for the Cajuns. South Alabama has struggled offensively all year and Evan Orth isn't listed in their two deep for this game after being knocked out of their last contest. Meanwhile, the Cajuns' ground game, featuring three running backs who are over 600 yards for the season, will be primed to try and chew up more real estate.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (7-3, 4-2) (-7) at Coastal Carolina (5-5, 2-4) 4:00, ESPN+--It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Eagles were poised to crack the Top 25, but losses at ULM and at home against Troy have put somewhat of a damper on what has been a terrific bounce back season for the Eagles in Chad Lunsford's first full year as head coach. Coastal is still poised to become bowl eligible with a win. But the injuries at quarterback have stymied them the second half of the season. If the Eagles are over their disappointment, they should be okay. The Chants, meanwhile have a lot to play for.