Fireside Chats: 2020 Sun Belt Football Midpoint

Grab your beverage of choice, select your favorite chair and get cozy by the fire as Brady and David once again muse about the state of Sun Belt football in the latest installment of our Fireside Chats series – because talking about sports is fun!

Brady Weiler

David, thanks for joining me on this day chock full of college football but chock empty of Georgia State football.

Since we’ve got a month’s worth of games and there’s no bye week for Georgia State after this weekend, I figured this was a good chance to chat about the state of the conference overall this far into the season

David Salmon

Picked as good a time as any. 

Unfortunately some of the more premier Sun Belt games around this time got canned, but there’s still plenty of intrigue throughout the conference. 

How about them Ragin’ Cajuns so far? They have certainly been turning heads this year.

Brady

Obviously Arkansas State and Coastal Carolina also got in on the Big 12 beatdown fun at the start of the season, but the Cajuns certainly have that “We want this bad” mojo going. Beating Iowa State and then overcoming challenges at the hands of Georgia State and then Georgia Southern when they easily could have folded. Billy Napier surely got some offers this offseason to get a P5 gig but he bet on this being his best team at UL and so far, the bet looks pretty good.

On the subject of the Cajuns, while their big showdown with App State had to be pushed back to later in the year, this Wednesday (10/14) will see the most intriguing game of the season to date when surprise East starlets Coastal visit Cajun Field. How do you see that one shaking out?

David

I have been pleasantly surprised with Coastal so far this season, and while they have some claim to the Sun Belt Cinderella story in their own right, I do think their undefeated season comes to an end vs Louisiana. The Cajuns have been very good so far against the pass, and I expect this to be the biggest defensive test that redshirt freshman QB Grayson McCall has faced.

Brady

Cue the fates conspiring against Louisiana now that we both say this, but I will agree and take the Cajuns. They’re still undefeated but it hasn’t felt like they’ve come close to playing their best game – and they had some key players missing against both Georgia schools. I think they take advantage of the midweek spotlight and make a statement and take a step forward.

David

And that isn’t to say I am down on Coastal. I’ll come right out and ask this. Are the Chanticleers better than the Panthers gun to your head?

Brady

Right now, you can’t say otherwise.The results for Coastal speak for themselves. Averaging a cool 44.3 ppg (to GSU’s 40.0) having played one more game, a comfortable win at P5 Kansas and a statement win over Arkansas State last weekend. That’s not to say they’re unbeatable, and we’ll certainly learn a lot when Coastal/UL goes down next week, but they’re rightfully the class of the East through a month of football.

David

Don’t tell App State that. How fun would it be for a change at the top of the East this season? 

Brady

Building off of that, give me your power rankings of both divisions. Use whatever criteria you choose to.

David

That’s actually fairly easy in my eyes. I will start with the West since there’s a clear frontrunner and a lot of meh.

West:

Louisiana

Arkansas State

Texas State

South Alabama

ULM

 

East:

Coastal

App State

Georgia State

Georgia Southern 

Troy

In the East, I wanted to reward the teams that played well despite records, and I think App State has played very sloppy to begin the 2020 campaign. 

Brady

For me…

West:

Louisiana

Arkansas State

Texas State

South Alabama

ULM

East:

Coastal Carolina

App State

Georgia State

Troy

Georgia Southern

We are identical on the West, the East isn’t too far off. I’d actually rate GSU and Troy 3a and 3b since it’s still a little early to tell, but Troy’s loss was overwhelming to (an admittedly very good) BYU and Georgia State took Louisiana to OT so that’s my arbitrary tiebreaker.

And agree on App, it hasn’t felt like their division like it has – to their great credit – every season since the divisional split. Still, they’re tops in the conference across the board (#1 in total offense and total defense by a good bit) and they’ve certainly earned the benefit of the doubt, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve both got our eyes on the team in Boone in 2020.

David

And part of that could be getting their feet underneath them. Who knows what they will look like as the season goes on?

Thinking ahead a bit, who do you think will sit at the top two in both divisions by this time next month?

Brady

So, despite Coastal being #1 in the East right now, I do have App swapping with them in the next month as they hit a favorable stretch (v Arkansas State, @ ULM, @ Texas State) while Coastal has a tougher slate (@ UL, vs Southern, @ GSU). In the West, I’ll stick with the Cajuns. There’s been some improvement all-around there, with the exception of ULM, but it’s still Louisiana’s division for me.

David

I’m going for maximum chaos with my choice. Coastal and App State play more than 31 days from now so technically it will be App State, but I have a feeling Coastal takes that 11/21 matchup in Conway, and leapfrogs them. Will it hold remains to be seen. Louisiana should comfortably win the West, but if a team wanted to make things Spicy and give them a run, I welcome that.

Brady

The truth is, it’s still so early in conference season, maximum chaos/maximum spice is possible. Three teams (as of the writing of this) haven’t even played a conference game yet. Very excited to see how the East shakes out.

David

As am I. Some intrigue in the Sun Belt is always welcome around these parts. When we come back in a month, hopefully the chaos scenarios we spoke of happened in a way that benefits the Panthers. 

Brady Weiler

Programming Director at THERSday Night

Brady Weiler has 61 posts and counting. See all posts by Brady Weiler

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