Another week of Sun Belt Power Rankings manifests itself. The end of October is starting to bring clarity on what the final outcome of this year’s football season might look like.
If your online sportsbook has championship odds for today’s No. 1 team, I’d be pounding away at them.
1. Troy (6-2, 4-1)
Last Week: Won at South Alabama, 10-6; This Week: Bye
Troy is 4-1 (should probably be 5-0, if not for Hail Mary in Boone) and now has a head-to-head win over its chief divisional rival.
At this point, the Trojans are the definitive favorite to come out of the West. And because the East will continue to beat itself up, Troy is likely to host the conference title game – making it the current de facto favorite to host (and perhaps win) the Sun Belt championship.
2. Coastal Carolina (6-1, 3-1)
Last Week: Bye; This Week: at Marshall
Coastal continues to lurk at the top of the East simply because no one else really looks the part. Perhaps the off week helped them heal up and scheme out some new wrinkles for the November stretch run.
Technically, the Chants need a little help to move back into the driver’s seat in the East, but I’m not sure anyone expects Old Dominion to run the table.
3. South Alabama (5-2, 2-1)
Last Week: Lost to Troy, 10-6; This Week: at Arkansas State
South Alabama is still a championship-caliber squad, but – like Coastal – it now needs a little help to get back into pole position in the West.
Unlike Coastal, it’s very possible that South Al’s key divisional opposition (Troy) runs the table and clinches a spot in the title game.
Finding Some Mojo
4. Georgia Southern (5-3, 2-2)
Last Week: Won at Old Dominion, 28-23; This Week: Bye
Georgia Southern seemed dead in the water just two weeks ago, but the Eagles have put together back-to-back wins over teams that are in the top half of the divisional standings… for now, anyway.
A spot in the title game is likely a stretch at this point, but it can still earn a rivalry win over App and head to a bowl game. That’d be a good year in Statesboro after last year’s campaign.
5. Southern Miss (4-3, 2-1)
Last Week: Won at Texas State, 20-14; This Week: Louisiana
Southern Miss has won four of its last five and is the rightful favorite in college football betting markets against Louisiana on Thursday night.
6. Louisiana (4-3, 2-2)
Last Week: Beat Arkansas State, 38-18; This Week: at Southern Miss
Is it weird that I’m more impressed by Louisiana’s close loss to South Alabama than I am by wins over Marshall and Arkansas State?
7. Appalachian State (4-3, 2-2)
Last Week: Beat Georgia State, 42-17; This Week: Robert Morris
App badly needed to come out of its bye with a big win. Boone had to be collectively rolling its eyes when the Panthers took an early 14-0 lead, but App State responded with four unanswered touchdowns.
The Mountaineers need to enjoy this weekend’s FCS game against Bob Morris, because the final month is brutal. They’ll play road games at Coastal, Marshall and Georgia Southern.
8. Marshall (4-3, 1-2)
Last Week: Won at James Madison, 26-12; This Week: Coastal Carolina
Marshall got its first taste of a Game Day in Harrisonburg – a relatively easy road trip, thanks to Interstate 64 – and it liked what it saw.
Disappointed On Homecoming
9. Old Dominion (3-4, 1-2)
Last Week: Lost to Georgia Southern, 28-23; This Week: at Georgia State
As I explained on my podcast last week, Old Dominion’s status as a 2.5-point favorite in the college football odds market was actually a signal that they were going to lose to Georgia Southern.
10. James Madison (5-2, 3-2)
Last Week: Lost to Marshall, 26-12; This Week: Bye
It was all good just two weeks ago. JMU was undefeated in mid-October; by the final week of the month, the team was dealing with a raft of injuries, and the fan base is experiencing some heavy turmoil as it adjusts to life in the FBS.
A second bye week couldn’t come at a better time. If the Dukes get healthy and score a win at Louisville, an ugly game against Marshall will be long forgotten.
11. Texas State (3-5, 1-3)
Last Week: Lost to Southern Miss, 20-14; This Week: Bye
After losing to Southern Miss, Texas State’s bowl eligibility might just come down to its regular season finale against Louisiana in San Marcos.
12. Georgia State (2-5, 1-2)
Last Week: Lost at Appalachian State, 42-17; This Week: Old Dominion
Hoping to maintain its status as the most up-and-down team in the Sun Belt, Georgia State gave up more than 400 yards of rushing yards to App State.
13. UL-Monroe (2-6, 1-3)
Last Week: Lost at Army, 48-24; This Week: Bye
Not to be outdone by the Panthers, Monroe gave up 441 rushing yards to Army, which averaged a whopping 7.1 ypc against Monroe’s defense.
Thanks for Playing
14. Arkansas State (2-6, 1-4)
Last Week: Lost at Louisiana, 38-18; This Week: South Alabama
Arkansas State has shown some real flashes on offense, but after eight games, we’re getting into “you are what your record says you are” territory.