Why Sun Belt teams make the College Football Playoff

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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Yes, you read the title right. No, we don’t believe the Sun Belt makes the playoff. It will make more sense later in the series. Overall, it’s tough for any Group of 5 team to make the playoff. You have to play a tough nonconference schedule to have a chance, but even that isn’t enough. So, let’s think about it as explaining why these G5 teams will make a New Year’s Six (NY6) bowl game. Also, if you missed our Preseason Position Previews, be sure to check them out!


Sun Belt West

Texas State Bobcats

Saying the Bobcats are going to make an NY6 game is like saying Takeoff is the best member of Migos. Since joining the FBS ranks, the Bobcats have produced a 27-57 record, and it’s going to be a while before they’re a great team. New head coach Jake Spavital works with a good amount of returning experience, but the goal for this team might be winning four games. It’s too bad the Bobcats don’t have a Quavo or Offset to help them out. Quavo could actually help at quarterback.

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

The artist formerly known as Lousiana-Lafayette ditched part of it’s name. So, now they’re just Louisiana. In their first year as a one-name-first-name school, the Ragin Cajuns made it to the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. That was also in Billy Napier’s first year. Who’s to say they won’t do it again? NY6 is questionable with games against Mississippi State and Ohio, and they get the top three teams from the East division as well.

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Have you ever heard a bad song by Zac Brown Band? Probably not. What about Arkansas State having a bad season in the last few years? Coincidence? It’s safe to say they’ll be a solid team again if not in the running for a conference title. Besides a game against Georgia, every game is winnable for the Red Wolves. If they finish 12-1, they’ll give themselves a chance to play in the NY6 bowl game.

UL-Monroe Warhawks

ULM’s offense goes as far as Caleb Evans takes them. Without him, things go wrong. Take Adam Levine out of Maroon 5 and the same thing happens. Evans has potential greatness in him, but is it enough greatness to beat the likes of Florida State, Iowa State and Memphis? Not to mention facing Arkansas State, Appalachian State, and in-state rival Louisiana. The Warhawks only won two of the last ten meetings with the Ragin Cajuns.

South Alabama Jaguars

Team USA (no not that one) was successful early on, but has faded as of late. Kind of like The Game. Sure there are moments of success and relevancy (like wins against Mississippi State and San Diego State in 2016), but it’s mostly disappointment. Hate it or love it, this is how they do. A trip to Nebraska in Week 1 and hosting Memphis two games later will tell us all we need to know about this team.

Sun Belt East

Appalachian State Mountaineers

What did Beyonce say? Who runs the Belt? (‘Neers). Until further notice, this is the team to beat in the conference. All the Mountaineers have done is win 30 games and three conference championships over the last three years. Returning production doesn’t appear to be lacking either. Quarterback Zac Thomas an running back Darrynton Evants give the Mountaineers a dangerous combination, and receiver Corey Sutton is arguably the best at his position in the conference. There’s not a more talented team in the Sun Belt, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns.

If you’re betting money, it’d be easy to take the Mountaineers to win the conference, but were not talking about that. Getting to the NY6 presents a challenge. Bringing in a new head coach in Elijah Drinkwitz will be a transition, but it’s the schedule that will be tough. The Mountaineers must fend off both Troy and Georgia Southern within their own division, but also navigate games against North Carolina, South Carolina, and Charlotte. No one would be surprised if they pulled off upsets against the Carolinas, but it’s tough to see this team going undefeated (which they need to do for the NY6).

Troy Trojans

Troy is to Appalachian State what D12 was to Eminem. No matter what the Trojans have done lately, they can’t top the Mountaineers. Ok, so maybe that’s a stretch, but you get it. Troy did share a league title in 2017 with the Mountaineers, so there’s not a huge gap. They do, however, find themselves with a new head coach. Chip Lindsey takes over for Neal Brown (who went to West Virginia), and finds a big obstacle in front of his team. The schedule isn’t awful (game against Missouri will be rough), but new weapons at receiver must be found. They also must find a way to beat Georgia Southern and App State to play for a conference title.

Georgia Southern Eagles

Georgia Southern: the Rihanna of college football. You get a lot of repetition, but you also can’t stop watching. They also do quite a bit of winning, and return 14 starters to a team that won double digit games last year. In addition to facing Arkansas State, App State, and Troy, the Eagles make trips to LSU and Minnesota. This team can win the conference, but won’t be heading to an NY6 game.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

So far, the Chanticleers have missed life in the FCS. Kind of like the Jonas Brothers without Nick, Fifth Harmony without Camila, or NSYNC without Justin Timberlake. With Joe Moglia gone, Jamey Chadwell takes over again. Besides Kansas (if that counts), the Chanticleers won’t face an FBS team, so a bowl game is within site. That’s about as high as the ceiling goes though.

Georgia State Panthers

Is there a better school to host a bunch of rappers than Georgia State? Georgia State’s right in Atlanta, and there are a ton of artists with roots from the area. Granted it, it would take some serious cash, but it could work. Bring in guys like Ludacris, Future, and 2 Chainz (among many others) to games and I guarantee it’s the most lit atmosphere in all of college football. Only problem is the product on the field won’t match the expectations. This year especially.


The Sun Belt’s representative is probably coming from the East. Appalachian State appears to be the team to beat, but Georgia Southern and Troy are nipping at their heels. Arkansas State has a nice schedule, but the road goes through the Mountaineers until further notice.

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