Several teams were on bye last week, but that didn’t stop the Sun Belt from playing another really exciting weekend of football.
Newcomer James Madison remains undefeated, both in the standings and in the college football betting odds market. The Dukes also cracked the AP Top 25.
Troy and South Alabama are on a collision course that will likely decide the western division.
Let’s rank some teams!
Hello From the AP Poll
1. James Madison (5-0)
Last Week: Won at Arkansas State, 42-20; This Week: at Georgia Southern
Five games removed from FCS Football, James Madison continues to make its case as the best team in the Sun Belt. Quarterback Todd Centeio ranks 8th in QBR among all FBS quarterbacks, and JMU ranks second in the nation in total defense.
Sun Belt Favorites
2. Coastal Carolina (6-0)
Last Week: Won at Louisiana-Monroe, 28-21; This Week: Old Dominion
I feel like I say the same thing about Coastal Carolina every week. In four of its last five games, Coastal Carolina has either won a one-possession game or needed a fourth-quarter score to take the lead. Or both!
And yet… the Chants are 6-0. It’s tough to be negative about an undefeated team in mid-October.
3. Troy (4-2)
Last Week: Beat Southern Miss, 27-10; This Week: Texas State
Troy has officially entered conference contender status after dispatching Southern Miss.
4. South Alabama (4-1)
Last Week: Bye; This Week: UL-Monroe
South Alabama has played fewer conference games than the other key western division contender, but it could be better suited for the long haul with a timely bye. Next week’s game against Troy could very likely decide the division.
5. Marshall (3-2)
Last Week: Bye; This Week: Louisiana
Marshall still hasn’t beaten an FBS team (or covered one of its college football spreads) since its Week 2 win in South Bend.
Ironically, a visit from the reigning conference champs might be just what the doctor ordered on Wednesday night. Louisiana might very well be the worst team in the conference.
6. Old Dominion (2-3)
Last Week: Bye; This Week: at Old Dominion
Coastal Carolina is letting teams hang around, and a stingy, rested ODU defense might just keep the Monarchs in the game for a second signature win.
That said, I’m having a really hard time believing that ODU’s offense could keep up with Grayson McCall.
Power Poll Rewind: Revisit Last Week’s Rankings
7. Southern Miss (2-3)
Last Week: Lost at Troy, 27-10; This Week: Arkansas State
I still like Southern Miss as a top-level team in the western division, but the Golden Eagles will need a little help from South Alabama to re-enter the title conversation.
Somebody Buy These Kids a Beer
8. Georgia State (2-4)
Last Week: Beat Georgia Southern, 41-33; This Week: Bye
When it comes to NCAAF odds, Georgia State remains one of the most confusing teams to handicap. That said, it’s nice to see the Panthers put together a small winning streak here after they remained competitive against tough competition throughout the first few weeks of the season.
9. Texas State (3-3)
Last Week: Beat App State, 36-24; This Week: at Troy
The college football odds over at the BetMGM online sportsbook pegged App State as a -1100 moneyline favorite in San Marcos. That makes Saturday’s result one of the biggest conference upsets of the year.
Good for the bobcats, who now have a real shot at bowl eligibility out of the west.
Better Luck Next Time
10. Appalachian State (3-3)
Last Week: Lost at Texas State, 36-24; This Week: Bye
I don’t want to overreact to a bad loss, but have we considered the possibility that App State just isn’t that good?
11. Arkansas State (2-4)
Last Week: Lost to James Madison, 42-20; This Week: at Southern Miss
Arkansas State may have lost to JMU at home by multiple scores, but ASU quarterback James Blackman was arguably the most impressive player in the entire game. As long as he’s around, the Red Wolves are going to have a shot at toppling pretty much any team who comes to town.
More from Jonesboro: 6 Observations from JMU’s 42-20 Win Over Arkansas State
12. Georgia Southern (3-3)
Last Week: Lost at Georgia Southern, 41-33; This Week: James Madison
I’m not one for talk of curses, but the Husker Hex is piling up quite a resume.
13. ULM (2-4)
Last Week: Lost to Coastal Carolina, 28-21; This Week: at South Alabama
Casual fans may not notice much of a change with the Warhawks, but Louisiana remains much more competitive in losses than it has in recent years.
14. Louisiana (2-3)
Last Week: Bye; This Week: at Marshall
By the time Louisiana takes the field on Wednesday night in Huntington, it’ll have been more than a month since the Cajuns’ last win.