When college football regular-season win totals get posted, you know that the season can’t be too far away and that the merits of various teams are going to be weighed and discussed. Let’s look here at the Sun Belt Conference and how the various teams are expected to stack up.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Expected wins: 10 [Over -115, Under -115]
Coastal Carolina burst onto the scene a year ago as a legitimate threat to reach the College Football Playoff, and the Chanticleers have the potential to be a top-10 team again this season. They return 19 starters, including the most important and most talented players.
Coastal Carolina is seeing unprecedented college football odds for a team from the Sun Belt Conference and its regular-season win total is set at 10. The Chanticleers would have to run the table in the Sun Belt to accomplish this feat, but that seems possible.
Quarterback Grayson McCall leads an offense that scored over 37 points per game a season ago, and Coastal Carolina also features a terrific defense. A non-conference matchup with Buffalo could prove to be challenging, but Coastal Carolina had little trouble with conference opponents a season ago.
If anything, the regular-season win total might be a bit low. Upsets can always happen, but this team should be great in 2021.
Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Expected wins: 9½ [Over -105, Under -125]
Louisiana should be the clear favorite to win the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference and it might not be challenged. The Ragin’ Cajuns feel like the biggest threat to Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Conference, but it’s hard to see them even being on that same level.
Right now, the college football lines for regular-season win total have it set at 9.5 for Louisiana Lafayette, and that feels a little high. This team is set to take on Texas and Liberty in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and those are big challenges.
Louisiana has the offense to compete with any team in the Sun Belt, but it could ultimately be the defense that determines the fate of the season. The Ragin’ Cajuns could win the Sun Belt with a few losses, but getting 10 wins would be quite an impressive achievement.
Appalachian State Mountaineers
Expected wins: 9 [Over -105, Under -125]
It wasn’t long ago that Appalachian State was one of the most popular college football picks to be a surprise team each year, but this league has simply caught up to the Mountaineers. The regular-season win total for Appalachian State is still set at nine, but the Mountaineers will have to play exceptionally well to get to that amount.
The Mountaineers have a challenging non-conference schedule that will see them square off against Miami (Fla) and Marshall . Going 1-1 in these games could keep Appalachian State on a path to win at least nine games, but it will be tight.
Quarterback Chase Brice is expected to start at quarterback and he could provide a huge boost on offense. He will have plenty of help as Appalachian State was one of the best rushing teams in the country in 2020.
Getting stops will be a big key for the Mountaineers as this conference is loaded with some great offenses. Projecting Appalachian State to win nine games feels a bit high as there are two better teams in the conference.
The Mountaineers are going to be in every game they play, but they now must find a way to come on top in those games.
Expected wins: 7 [Over -115, Under -115]
Troy has not shied from playing solid teams in the non-conference and the 2021 schedule is loaded. The Trojans are set to take on Liberty in Week 2 and a matchup with South Carolina looms later.
With the expected win total set at seven, all the Trojans really need to do is to beat the teams in the bottom half of the Sun Belt. That might be easier said than tone, but Troy has put some solid teams on the field in recent seasons.
Troy has the weapons to become a great offensive team but it struggled with turnovers last season. This is usually one area that is hard to predict, but it will be the difference in the Trojans challenging for the conference crown or finishing in the middle of the pack.
Georgia State Panthers
Expected wins: 5 [Over -125, Under -105]
Georgia State played much better in 2020 than the scores and odds might indicate and finishing 6-4 felt like a disappointment. The Panthers lost close games against both Louisiana and Appalachian State in 2020, and they will be looking to do something about that this season.
Georgia State had an incredibly young roster last year and quarterback Cornelious Brown IV could emerge as one of the best players in the league. The Panthers have the ability to score with some of the best Sun Belt teams, but Georgia State can also shut down opponents.
Conference games against Georgia Southern and Troy will likely determine bowl eligibility for Georgia State this season. It will also have an impact on the regular-season win total. Right now, the Panthers are expected to win five games, but that number feels a little low.
There will still be some growing pains for Georgia State with a relatively young roster, but the Panthers have proven that they can compete with the best teams in the league. Now they have to prove it on the field, both in conference action and non-conference action.