The Sun Belt Conference certainly isn’t going to produce a national champion, or even a top 25 team, but it very well could be the most competitive conference in the country. Compared to other mid-major conferences, the Sun Belt has a chance to be the toughest in the nation. There are no Boise State’s in this conference, but there are 4-5 teams that could compete with some middle-of-the-pack major college teams. The conference championship will be up for grabs. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the 2015 Sun Belt Conference season.
There are 4-5 teams that should feel pretty good about their chances heading into the fall. Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Appalachian State have the best shot to win the league. Georgia Southern won the league last year with a perfect 8-0 conference record. It’s going to be much more difficult for the Eagles to run the table this year because they only return 4 starters on offense, with just 1 offensive line starter back. Georgia Southern got great production last year from running back Matt Breida, but with a brand new offensive line, it won’t be easy for him to match his 1,400+ rushing yards he achieved in 2014.
Arkansas State struggled down the stretch last year, but they have a shot to put up historic numbers on offense. They bring back 9 offensive starters from a team that ranked 18th nationally in scoring. That includes senior quarterback Fredi Knighten and 1,000-yard rusher Michael Gordon. The Red Wolves have the most offensive experience in the league and should have a balanced, potent attack. But what will keep Arkansas State from competing on a national level is their defense, or lack of defense, we should say. They will have one of the worst defensive teams in the country. Arkansas State faces one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, but they have a shot to win this conference.
Remember Dennis Franchione? He’s still a pretty good football coach and has done wonders for the Texas State football program. You can’t count them out. They lack proven big playmakers, but they’ll be the best coached team in the conference. Franchione is 36-34 at a never-has-been program. For Texas State to contend for the conference title, Coach Fran is going to need to find some playmakers on defense. Other than cornerback David Mims II, the Bobcats defense isn’t looking so hot.
Like every mid-major conference every year, there are a bunch of teams that virtually have no chance to compete for anything of significance. This year, in the Sun Belt, the teams that aren’t worth paying attention to except for betting purposes are South Alabama, ULM, Troy, Idaho, New Mexico State, and Georgia State. If you happen to be an alumnus of any of these schools, we’re sorry to tell you that 2015 isn’t going to be a year that is going to make you proud to be an alumnus.
We’ve covered every team, which means there are no “others” in the Sun Belt. Either your team will be good enough to contend for the conference title or they’re going to be terrible.
- Sun Belt Champ: Georgia Southern
- Sun Belt Offensive POY: Fredi Knighten, QB Arkansas State
- Sun Belt Defensive POY: Doug Middleton, CB Appalachian State