Week Eight Sun Belt Preview

They don’t call it the Funbelt for nothing, folks. South Alabama kicked off last week with a Wednesday upset over Troy that set the stage for a weekend crammed with upsets across the board. Georgia State opened Saturday with a surprising 47-37 win over Louisiana-Monroe while Idaho held Appalachian State against the wall before collapsing late. When the dust of trap week settled, only three teams emerged with a perfect conference record still intact.

Idaho (2-4, 1-2) at Missouri (1-5, 0-4)

Spread: Mizzou -14.5

The Vandals held a 20-0 lead on Appalachian State early in the third quarter last week but could not hang on to the upset bid. Running back Aaron Duckworth had his second 100 yard rushing performance of the season but disappeared in the fourth quarter.

Missouri hung with Georgia early last week but ran out of steam in the second quarter, losing 53-28. It was the fourth time the Tigers have allowed over 40 points in a game this season.

Idaho is in danger of falling to an underwhelming 2-5 record after winning nine last season. Quarterback Matt Linehan has had a rough go at it the last few weeks, completing just 53.7 percent of his passes the last three games. Paul Petrino’s offense hasn’t played up to expectations this season as the Vandals are currently sitting at ninth in the Sun Belt it total offense.

The spread sits at Missouri by two touchdowns but I would not expect this game to be that close. Yes, the Tigers lack a competent defense but so do the Rajin Cajuns and Idaho somehow scored just 16 points against them. On the other side of the ball, Missouri has the potential to go over 30 on any given day behind quarterback Drew Lock. Idaho leads the Sun Belt in pass defense but has yet to face an offense with a decent quarterback and athletic wide receivers.

 

Troy (4-2, 1-1) at Georgia State (3-2, 2-0)

Spread: Troy -7.5

Troy and Georgia State are in two different spots here midway through the season. The Trojans are searching for answers after falling to South Alabama while the Panthers are hoping to compound its win over the Warhawks with a top tier Sun Belt win.

Troy’s season-long problems were magnified significantly last week. Despite South playing its usual brand of bad football, the Jaguars won by double digits thanks to a plethora of Troy mistakes. The Trojans are the second worst team in the conference when it comes to converting yards into points. Troy’s yards per six points is 124 while the only team worse is 1-6 Texas State.

The Panthers are returning home for just their second game inside Georgia State Stadium this year. Shawn Elliot’s squad is a much different looking team from the first home game when they lost to Tennessee State. Quarterback Conner Manning and wide receiver Penny Hart are quickly becoming the most dangerous duo in the conference with Hart now leading the Sun Belt in receptions with 42.

The Milwaukee Brewers gave up just 4.3 runs a game this season which was a top ten mark in baseball. However, the Brewers scored just 4.52 runs per game which was 10th worst. Troy is a lot like that. If the Trojans resolve their discipline issues, Troy should win. If not, Georgia State’s offense will make them pay a bit more than South Alabama’s did.

 

Georgia Southern (0-5, 0-2) at UMASS (0-6)

Spread: UMASS -7

There are zero wins and 11 losses between these two teams but one will leave with a check in the win column. You can find the full preview of this game here.

 

Coastal Carolina (1-5, 0-3) at Appalachian State (4-2, 3-0)

Spread: App St -23.5

The Mountaineers barely escaped with their third conference win of the season as they continue to find ways to finish games. After failing to top Wake Forest, Appalachian State has outlasted New Mexico State and Idaho in what were more than likely the Mountaineers’ toughest games left on the schedule.

Coastal Carolina hasn’t lived up to expectations so far, taking unexpected losses to UAB and Western Illinois so far and sporting an abysmal 1-5 record.

It hasn’t always been pretty for the Mountaineers’ offense but the defense has done enough to push them over the top. Appalachian State is second in the Sun Belt in scoring defense and are sound at defending both the run and pass. Defensive lineman Tee Sims leads a team that is tied for first in the conference with 19 sacks. Sims has 4.5 sacks to go along with 7.5 sacks thus far.

Coastal Carolina fans had flashbacks to last year’s quarterback debacle when starter Tyler Keane was knocked for the game in the second quarter followed by his backup Dalton Demos getting hurt as well. Junior Kilton Anderson stepped in and finished the game. While Keane will make the start this week, interim coach Jamey Chadwell says to expect Anderson to make another appearance.

The Chanticleers have found ways to be effective on offense but the defense has been more than rough. Coastal is last in the conference in sacks with seven and have given up at least four touchdowns in every game this season and seven touchdowns twice.

Appalachian State hasn’t been particularly amazing on offense but a fully healthy Jalin Moore has helped as of late. The defense is opportunistic but Coastal has affinity for finding yardage and are bound to put up more than a couple of scores. The Mountaineers gave up 31 points to the last good offense it faced despite registering six takeaways against New Mexico State. Appalachian State should win, but take Coastal against the 23.5 point spread.

 

Louisiana-Monroe (3-3, 3-1) at South Alabama (2-4, 1-1)

Spread: USA -4.5

The Warhawks are looking to bounce back after a loss to Georgia State while South Alabama wants to capitalize on its big win at Troy. For the preview of this game, click here.

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