The Sun Belt Conference might be one of the frustrating conferences in college football.
They were responsible for three major upsets last week. Appalachian State had a major upset over Texas A&M – so much an upset that ESPN chose Boone, North Carolina, to be the location of this week’s College Gameday – and shook a lot of things up. Marshall, meanwhile, took advantage of a struggling Notre Dame squad and sent them to the locker room with an embarrassing defeat. Then, Georgia Southern upset Nebraska so badly that they fired coach Scott Frost, buying out his $16 million contract rather than waiting mere weeks when it would be trimmed in half.
But, those aren’t the only three teams to look at. The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have the longest win streak in the country, traveling to pick up their 16th win this weekend against Rice. Coastal Carolina routinely makes waves, too. Liberty is no slouch. It’s a conference that does good things, but man they simply can’t break into the big leagues.
Here are the top games for the week.
#1 Georgia at South Carolina
It’s GAMEDAY!! pic.twitter.com/XTQH6q0bGd
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 17, 2022
It would not be unheard of to see South Carolina make a solid attempt at an upset, but that would require Georgia’s offense to collapse a bit. Not sure that the Gamecocks have the defensive capabilities to pressure Stetson Bennett to the point that he’s off his game. One of the biggest worries for Georgia going into the season this year, though, was their defense, and while they’ve stood up to some challenges already, this may be their biggest test yet.
#2 Alabama vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Alabama needs a dominant performance across the board after last week’s near-loss to Texas. Bryce Young proved he is one of the best (if not the best) quarterbacks in the nation, but the collapse of Alabama’s offensive line under pressure and their defense’s struggles to contain the Longhorns’ offense revealed some weaknesses. That, and the team’s lack of discipline led to the most penalties in the modern era, which is a huge black eye on an otherwise disciplined record under Nick Saban. They are easy to frustrate, and some team will take advantage of that soon.
#12 BYU at #25 Oregon
here on business 💼 pic.twitter.com/iZVYuWUrQE
— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) September 17, 2022
BYU has had a stellar start to the season while Oregon has been on a slide since their Week 1 loss to Georgia. Now, the Ducks are looking for an upset of their own, and BYU might offer the opportunity. BYU went 5-0 against the Pac-12 last season, but injuries to star receivers Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua have had the team worried. Still, they are both reportedly on the mend and it’s expected we’ll see them play. Oregon, meanwhile, has beaten 29 non-conference visitors in a row. A win in Eugene might just help push BYU into the Top 10, depending on how the rest of the Top 25 slate goes today.
#13 Miami at #24 Texas A&M
The Aggies are looking to make a statement today after being upset by App State last week. Miami comes in 2-0 with wins against teams that really didn’t challenge them. This will be the best test of their No. 13 spot in the Top 25. The Aggies, under Jimbo Fisher, do have a lot of work to do. They couldn’t get anything going offensively last week, and that’s a problem for an SEC that has anti-Alabama ambitions next month. Miami could really use an SEC win, on the road, to really get this season going.
Texas Tech at #16 North Carolina State
Notes on Saturday's game ⬇️https://t.co/eJYadL2iNx
— NC State Football (@PackFootball) September 15, 2022
Texas Tech upset Houston. They have some momentum. They also have the personnel to do the same here. NC State, meanwhile, started the season with their highest-ever pre-season ranking (No. 12) and found themselves slipping after a narrow win over East Carolina. However, they have Devin Leary at quarterback, and he is certainly capable of making things happen out on the field.
Appalachian State vs. Troy
"We skipped a couple classes, but we have class every day. We don't have GameDay every day."
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 17, 2022
Sun Belt, Fun Belt, baby. This conference game should be good, because while App State can have stellar non-conference upsets, there is also a different challenge when it comes to conference games. Troy used to be the dominant name in the conference, but App State has been stealing headlines, and other teams have overtaken Troy in recent years. App State is just talented and has the most electric charisma you’ll see in any team right now.
Other Stories Of The Week
SEC action as LSU takes on Mississippi State, Notre Dame hosts a must-win game against the Cal Golden Bears, and Kansas goes out against Houston to prove that they aren’t just a basketball school. There are a lot of great games to keep an eye on today, and the potential for even more upsets. The most exciting game of the week is probably BYU at Oregon, but it’s really hard to limit that label to just one game.