Official 2019 Sun Belt Predictions

Another football season in the Sun Belt is finally upon us as we sit just three weeks away from Louisiana-Monroe kicking off the #FunBelt season on a Thursday night against Grambling.

What will follow will be a year full of surprises, upsets and disappointments. The Sun Belt has entered its Golden Age nearly two decades into existence and can keep it rolling in year two of the championship game era.

Though the conference is coming off its strongest season yet, there were plenty of changes throughout the league that could eventually upset the balance of power. At the very least, they’ve created new storylines to follow in 2019.

Two Sun Belt East powers are under new leadership in Appalachian State and Troy. The West features a new-look Red Wolves coaching staff coinciding with a change behind center and a potential offensive awakening in San Marcos under new head coach Jake Spavital.

After predicting every game involving a Sun Belt team, here is my projected order of finish for the Sun Belt conference in 2019:

East

  1. Appalachian State     11-1, 8-0
  2. Troy                              9-3, 7-1
  3. Georgia Southern      8-4, 6-2
  4. Coastal Carolina        4-8, 2-6
  5. Georgia State              3-9, 2-6

West

  1. Louisiana-Lafayette  7-5, 5-3
  2. Arkansas State           7-5, 5-3
  3. Louisiana-Monroe    4-8, 3-5
  4. Texas State                 4-8, 2-6
  5. South Alabama         1-11, 0-8

OPOY: WR Kirk Merritt

DPOY: LB Akeem Davis-Gaither

East Takeaways

It’s extremely difficult to run the table in the Sun Belt. It’s been done just four times since 2003, twice by Arkansas State (2011 & 2015) and by Troy (2009) and Georgia Southern (2014) once.

The Mountaineers are easily the most talented team in the Sun Belt this year coming off one of the most dominant seasons in Sun Belt history. App State has the vast majority of its team back for another run at a title with only once key difference: the coach.

If App State can pick up where it left off last year, this will be an extremely difficult team to topple.

The bottom of the division will suffer at the hands of the top once again, but I foresee improvements in Georgia State. It may not show in the W/L column this year, but the Panthers should see a massive improvement in points per game. It’s the supremely questionable defense that will keep this team behind in 2019.

West Takeaways

Things are going to look very similar to 2018 in the West this year, except ULM will fall back if it doesn’t steal a game or two. This division will once again be decided by the massively underrated Arkansas State/Louisiana-Lafayette rivalry game.

At the bottom, Texas State will leapfrog South Alabama and leave the Jaguars in the Sun Belt’s cellar. The Bobcats could make an early statement against Wyoming and, with games against Georgia St and ULM on the top half of the schedule, could flirt with bowl eligibility.

South Alabama has too many question marks on its roster to be very competitive in a 10-team league featuring more than a couple bull-market teams. The Jaguars do have several winnable games, however, but they all fall on the road at ULM, Texas St and Georgia St.

Game-by-game

Appalachian State

ETSU W
Charlotte W
at North Carolina W
Coastal Carolina W
at Louisiana-Lafayette W
Louisiana-Monroe W
at South Alabama W
Georgia Southern W
at South Carolina L
at Georgia State W
Texas State W
at Troy W

 

Arkansas State

SMU L
at UNLV W
at Georgia L
SIU W
at Troy L
at Georgia State W
Louisiana-Lafayette L
Texas State W
at Louisiana-Monroe W
Coastal Carolina W
Georgia Southern L
at South Alabama W

 

Coastal Carolina

Eastern Michigan L
at Kansas L
Norfolk State W
at Umass W
at Appalachian State L
Georgia State W
at Georgia Southern L
Troy L
Louisiana-Lafayette L
at Arkansas State L
at Louisiana-Monroe W
Texas State L

 

Georgia Southern

at LSU L
Maine W
at Minnesota L
Louisiana-Lafayette W
at South Alabama W
Coastal Carolina W
New Mexico State W
at Appalachian State L
at Troy L
Louisiana-Monroe W
at Arkansas State W
Georgia State W

 

Georgia State

at Tennessee L
Furman W
at Western Michigan L
at Texas State W
Arkansas State L
at Coastal Carolina L
Army L
Troy L
at Louisiana-Monroe L
Appalachian State L
South Alabama W
at Georgia Southern L

 

Louisiana-Lafayette

Mississippi State L
Liberty L
Texas Southern W
at Ohio W
at Georgia Southern L
Appalachian State L
at Arkansas State W
Texas State W
at Coastal Carolina W
at South Alabama W
Troy L
Louisiana-Monroe W

 

Louisiana-Monroe

Grambling W
at Florida State L
at Iowa State L
South Alabama W
Memphis L
at Texas State W
at Appalachian State L
Arkansas State L
Georgia State W
at Georgia Southern L
Coastal Carolina L
at Louisiana-Lafayette L

 

South Alabama

at Nebraska L
Jackson State W
Memphis L
at UAB L
at Louisiana-Monroe L
Georgia Southern L
at Troy L
Appalachian State L
at Texas State L
Louisiana-Lafayette L
at Georgia State L
Arkansas State L

 

Texas State

at Texas A&M L
Wyoming W
at SMU L
Georgia State L
Nicholls State W
Louisiana-Monroe L
at Arkansas State L
at Louisiana-Lafayette L
South Alabama W
Troy L
at Appalachian State L
at Coastal Carolina W

 

Troy

Campbell W
Southern Miss L
at Akron W
Arkansas State W
at Missouri L
South Alabama W
at Georgia State W
at Coastal Carolina W
Georgia Southern W
at Texas State W
at Louisiana-Lafayette W
Appalachian State L

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