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College Football: Sun Belt Odds

College football will soon be upon us and it’s never too early to look at the conference and division odds

 

This time, we analyze what’s happening in Sun Belt.

Trojans throws as he is pressured during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles California
Harry How/Getty Images/AF

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

Conference Odds: EVEN

The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns are favored to win the conference but it’s worth noting that their schedule is quite tricky. They’ll have to face Appalachian State, face Texas and an upstart Liberty team. However, this is a very talented team and if they can beat everyone on their schedule – including Texas – they could end up in a New Year’s Six bowl. They have that type of potential.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Conference Odds: +150

Coastal Carolina was one of the best stories in college football last season. It was just a few seasons ago that the Chanticleers made the jump from FCS to FBS, and last year, they made national headlines as a team that could have possibly crashed the College Football Playoff. They earned a Power 5 win to start the year by beating Kansas and later stunned BYU in a matchup of ranked, College Football Playoff party crashers. In the end, the Sun Belt championship cancelation hurt their chances, and then a loss in the Liberty Bowl allowed many experts to say “see, I told you they didn’t deserve it”. Nonetheless, this team was money in the bank for college football picks as nobody thought they’d finish No. 14 in the country.

There are 19 of 22 starters back. There are high expectations but by all accounts, they should be able to deliver.

Appalachian State Mountaineers

Conference Odds: +380

Appalachian State had been ruling the Sun Belt before Coastal Carolina arrived. Now we’re not sure if there has been a permanent changing of the guards or whether it was just a one-year one-off. The Mountaineers had won this conference every single year from 2016 to 2019 before the Chanticleers ended the streak last season. A lot hinges on Chase Brice, who is a Clemson Tigers’ transfer. He didn’t do well at Duke last year but now he’ll get an opportunity to pile up the numbers and rebuild his reputation. If he’s the real deal, App State will be one of the top dogs in the Sun Belt. If last year was a telling tale of what’s to come for Brice, the Mountaineers aren’t going to be serious players.

Troy Trojans

Conference Odds: +1400

It’s interesting to note that there are three teams in the Sun Belt Conference who have odds of +380 or shorter to win it. After that, though, there’s a break and it starts with Troy. The rest of the teams are at 14/1 or longer to win this conference.

This will be an important year for the Trojans. They had been one of the conference power houses but have slipped of late. They are just 10-13 in their last 23 games and haven’t made a bowl over the last two seasons. This team doesn’t seem to have many issues on offense and that should continue as they have all five starters on the offensive line back. They also return every starter in their front seven but that might not be a good thing. This defense coughed up 240 passing yards per game while opposing quarterbacks completed 67% of their passes. Unless that changes, this will again be a middling program.

Georgia State Panthers

Conference Odds: +2000

There is some optimism surrounding this Georgia State team as they are viewed as one of the more talented squads in the conference. 10 players have been announced for the All-Sun Belt preseason teams, including five first-team selections. Of course, preseason honors don’t exactly mean much; this team was still pegged to finish third in the Sun Belt East, so that also tells us a little bit.

The main challenge for them is that the Panthers are in a division with Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina. Georgia State might be the value play, though as the gap between the squads might not be as significant as the betting odds suggest. They are coming off a 6-4 season and bring by all 11 starters on offense and nine starters on defense.

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Conference Odds: +2500

Arkansas State is an interesting program to keep an eye on. They always seem to find talented head coaches, who eventually leave the program to go on and do bigger and better things. Those names include Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin. Now they’ve landed Butch Jones, who flopped as Tennessee’s head coach before rebuilding his reputation as one of Nick Saban’s assistants at Alabama.

Jones takes over a team that was 14th in yards per game last season but there is so much to replace. 4000+ yards of offense and more than half of the touchdowns are gone. On defense, 10 of 11 starters are back but the unit was terrible, giving up 27+ points per game in every contest but one. Jones will have this program on the right track eventually but not this year.

Texas State Bobcats

Conference Odds: +2500

Texas State’s college football odds show that they’re at 25-1, so they are no real threat to win the conference. Head coach Jake Spavital enters the year squarely on the hot seat and he better deliver or he’s out. Many people seem to feel that this team could turn the corner, though, and push for a top-three finish in their division. If they do, that’s likely to help Spavital keep his job.

Georgia Southern Eagles

Conference Odds: +2800

Georgia Southern tends to be a thorn in many of the teams’ sides. The Eagles’ odd offense where they run the ball about 80% of the time makes them difficult to prepare for. It’s like when teams have to face Air Force or Army; they’re just not used to scheming for a team that runs the ball that much. There’s no question that Georgia Southern has a deadly ground game but the story is always the same: they can’t always do it against the better teams. And what happens when they fall behind early? The defense usually keeps them in games, though, as they were No. 1 in the conference last season. A big challenge is that they lost a lot of it as their top six tacklers are gone along with their leaders in sacks and tackles-for-loss. It’s hard to have much faith that this team will rise up and be a serious threat in the conference but they’ll definitely pull an upset or two and change the race.

South Alabama Jaguars

Conference Odds: +5000

South Alabama is the second-longest shot in the Sun Belt and much of that has to do with the fact that this team simply doesn’t win many games. They have compiled a total of nine wins over the last three seasons combined. Kane Wommack now takes over the coaching staff and they’ve tapped into the transfer portal hard. This team has just 11 recruited commitments for the upcoming season but 13 members of the roster will come from the transfer portal. Nine are from Power Five programs, so that’s a positive. Jake Bentley will get plenty of attention as he was once the starting quarterback at South Carolina. Pairing with All-Sun Belt receiver Jalen Tolbert should give this offense some pop but it’s hard to get excited about anything else on this roster.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

Conference Odds: +12500

Louisiana-Monroe is the longest shot in the Sun Belt in terms of college football odds and it’s not hard to figure out why. This team posted a donut last year, going 0-10 on the season. Head coach Matt Viator was canned and he’s likely to blame, but he actually did alright with this program. Nobody is expecting them to go bowling year-over-year, but before the bottom fell out last season, the team was a healthy 12-12 from 2017 to 2019. So now where do they go from here? Terry Bowden is in and while that name holds some cache, it’s not what it used to be. And this team has lost a lot of talent due to the coaching change. They probably won’t go 0-fer again but they’re not a team to be betting on the weekly scores and odds. Assume that they’re one of the worst teams in the country for now.

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