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Sun Belt Primer

By BJ Bennett
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A week one look at the Sun Belt Conference.

The new-look Sun Belt Conference is ready to debut with a fascinating collection of games in late August. By adding Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Idaho and New Mexico State, the league has remade itself with a broader national reach. Here are some leading storylines for week one.

Early Entry
Georgia State will open the FBS college football season Wednesday night, while two conference teams will be in action Thursday night: Louisiana-Monroe hosting Wake Forest and New Mexico State hosting Cal Poly. After going 0-12 in 2013, success would bring validation to the Panthers. The Warhawks beat the Demon Deacons last season and have a good chance to duplicate that feat for an encore. Even though Wake Forest isn't expected to contend in the ACC, a victory over a major conference opponent always helps. Thursday night will be the Aggies' debut as a Sun Belt team.

History, Revisited
Memories of the famed 2007 pairing will be stirred when Appalachian State returns to the Big House to meet Michigan. The 34-32 Mountaineer victory stands as one of the great upsets in college football history as the Wolverines were ranked 5th in the national polls at the time. Appalachian State will head north as a new member of the Sun Belt. Georgia Southern, also moving up from the FCS Southern Conference, will open its new era with a road trip to North Carolina State. It will be the first game for the Eagles since beating Florida 26-20. 

Troy's In-State Tussle
The Trojans have an early statement game against nearby foe UAB, a series they have dominated in recent years. Despite that success, Troy is a slight underdog to the Blazers this August. Overall, consistency is what the Trojans are looking for. Opening the season with a win is a step in the right direction. This game also impacts recruiting in the state of Alabama.

Full Schedule
Georgia State vs Abilene Christian, Wednesday
Louisiana-Monroe vs Wake Forest, Thursday
New Mexico State vs Cal Poly, Thursday
Appalachian State at Michigan
Arkansas State vs Montana
Georgia Southern at North Carolina State
Idaho at Florida
Louisiana vs Southern
Texas State vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Troy at Alabama-Birmingham

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports