There are only six Sun Belt teams in action this week across five games. There are a pair of money games, some intriguing non-conference Group of Five games and one conference game. The conference hasn’t had the start to the season it hoped it would but Saturday brings new opportunities. With that, let’s jump right in.
Texas State at Wyoming
Texas State is capping a grueling non-conference slate with a trip to Laramie to take on the Cowboys. The Bobcats are fresh off a beat-down at the… claws? of the Roadrunners. On paper, it appears the Bobcats are walking into yet another one. However, Texas State has the capability to make this game interesting.
Wyoming came into the season with a considerable amount of hype. I was not a part of that train and so far it appears I made the right choice. Josh Allen has been overrated since day one and the Cowboys haven’t played nearly as well as they were expected too. Wyoming mustered a total of 16 points in games against Iowa and Oregon.
Your future first round draft pick completed 47.4 percent of his passes last week against Hawaii and when you take out the Gardner-Webb game, Allen is completing 49.3 percent of his passes with one touchdown and three interceptions. That isn’t great.
Texas State has a high ceiling defense that comes to play every once in a while. Last week wasn’t one of those times but the Bobcats were stifling against Appalachian State. If that defense shows up on Saturday, Texas State should beat the spread and maybe, just maybe, be in position to win late in the game.
South Alabama at Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech -12.5
South Alabama comes into this game with a pair of banged up quarterbacks and a new play caller. The Jaguars played their first conference game last week and lost in overtime to Idaho. This is a game between two programs heading in opposite directions this year. The Bulldogs are 2-2 with both losses coming against SEC teams while South is 1-3.
Louisiana Tech has had its rushing yardage drop with each game while the passing game has improved since the Mississippi State game. J’Mar Smith leads a balanced offense that can move the football on the turf or in the air.
Jags running back Xavier Johnson finally broke loose last week with 155 yards on 20 carries after not gaining any more than 36 in any previous game. Johnson will be leaned on even further with starting quarterback Cole Garvin out and backup Dallas Davis nursing his own injury.
South Alabama’s best hope is to keep the ball on the ground and control the clock. Otherwise, Louisiana Tech will take care of business and cover the spread.
New Mexico State at Arkansas
The Aggies travel to Fayetteville following a big win against rival UTEP. This will be New Mexico State’s final non-conference game of the season and second against a Power Five opponent. Arkansas is looking to use this game as a regroup opportunity after yet another failure to finish against Texas A&M.
Aggie quarterback Tyler Rogers leads a potent offense that features one of the best G5 running backs in Larry Rose III. At wide receiver, Jaleel Scott has made a case for his spot as the best receiver in the Sun Belt.
The Aggie defense has racked up 12 sacks through four games, one more than they had all of last year. Arkansas’ pass protection has been highly questionable lately, so expect NMSU to bring pressure every chance it gets.
NMSU will give the Razorbacks some trouble early, but Arkansas is much more aggressive and should cover the 17 point spread.
Troy at LSU
The Troy Trojans are entering Death Valley after narrowly defeating Akron at home in a sloppy 22-17 game. LSU fought off a late comeback attempt in order to beat Syracuse last week, 35-26. The Tigers have not lost a home non-conference night game since 2000, when they lost to the UAB Blazers.
Troy finally got the production its been expecting out quarterback/running back duo Brandon Silvers and Jordan Chunn as the two combined for over 450 yards last week. All that yardage was stunted with 16 penalties. Yeah, 16. Along with a missed field goal, extra point and turnover, the Trojans were shooting themselves in the foot all night.
Discipline has been a problem for Troy all season and if the Trojans want to pull off the upset in Tiger Stadium they’ll have to be completely sharp. As for LSU, running back Derrius Guice has been ruled out, along with multiple starters on defense.
Troy’s secondary is talented enough to hold LSU’s receivers without any help from the linebackers, allowing Troy to load the box and focus on the run. However, Neal Brown will need to open up the playbook and try and win the perimeter. This could be a low scoring game, but Troy should cover.
Coastal Carolina at Louisiana-Monroe
Coastal Carolina was embarrassed at home last week when it took a 52-10 beating at the hands of Western Illinois. Louisiana-Monroe on the other hand, outlasted rival Louisiana-Lafayette to notch its first conference win of the season.
The Warhawks benefited from sticking with one quarterback against the Cajuns as Caleb Evans shredded the Lafayette defense to the tune of 343 yards. He also added over 100 yards on the ground with five touchdowns.
Coastal’s offense has been a one-dimensional mess. The Chanticleers are leading the Sun Belt in rushing yards and are averaging 5.48 yards a pop. The pass game, though, is a wreck. Coastal is averaging 105 passing yards a game and have tossed one touchdown against six interceptions.
Coastal’s defense is bottom-half in the conference and may have some trouble with a red-hot Evans. The Warhawks’ defense isn’t superb either, but if this game turns into a shootout, Monroe will pull out ahead and cover with a late touchdown.