Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sun Belt 2017 Projections

The Fun Belt looks like it could be another wild ride to the end in 2017. Who knew that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern would be as good in this league as they are? Now Coastal Carolina comes into the league as Idaho and New Mexico State play their swan songs. This is going to be one insane season.

1. Appalachian State: The Mountaineers have won 21 games the last two seasons, yet remain underrated. A win over Georgia in the opener would change everything. They also avoid playing Troy and Arkansas State.

2. Troy: The Trojans are a team that nobody is talking about. They have serious weapons on offense and an improving defense, and if there is a team that can challenge App State in Sun Belt contention, it's them.

3. Arkansas State: The Red Wolves showed signs of major life last season, and now are a dark horse to push Troy and App State. The problem is that they currently do not have the same kinds of weapons that the leaders do. Still, this is a very good football team right now.

4. Idaho: The swan song begins, as Idaho plays their final season of Sun Belt and FBS football before moving back to FCS football and the Big Sky in 2018. They should have plenty of motivation, especially with four year starter Matt Linehan back at QB.

5. Georgia Southern: The Eagles started out with a bang, and then Willie Fritz left for Tulane. Tyson Summers has not gotten his footing as head coach just yet, and the team is sliding. This may not end well.

6. South Alabama: Joey Jones has one of the more maddening teams in college football. USA beat Mississippi State and San Diego State last season, but then lost some serious head scratching games in Sun Belt play. Consistency is an elusive beast.

7. UL-Lafayette: The Hudspeth star has officially dimmed. Once considered a star prospect at head coach, the Cajuns have slid consistently over the last three seasons.

8. Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers have now entered the FBS fray officially. With several holes on both sides of the football, it could be a bumpy entry, but it's hard to bet against head coach Joe Moglia long term. Former Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell joins the staff as well.

9. Georgia State: The Panthers made a change after a mostly unproductive era under Trent Miles. There is some talent on hand, but Sean Elliott has some serious work to do.

10. New Mexico State: The Aggies are also leaving the Sun Belt after 2017, but will stay on as an FBS independent, which is a terrible move. This program has been awful for decades, and it looks to stay that way.

11. UL-Monroe: Matt Viator is going to build this program up, but it will take some time. Look for small signs of progress in 2017, with a move towards making a bowl in 2018.

12. Texas State: The Bobcats had the worst rushing attack in the nation last season. Everett Withers will struggle to keep them out of the basement this fall.

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