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Sun Belt Weekend Primer

By Southern Pigskin Staff
SouthernPigskin.com
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Three Sun Belt teams will face SEC opponents this weekend.

Georgia Southern at Georgia Tech:

While Georgia Southern regained its confidence after a huge win last week, the Eagles are in for a tough game Saturday against a confident Yellow Jacket football team. Georgia Tech is off to a 2-0 start. However, the Yellow Jackets have not proven themselves against a viable team. Quarterback Justin Thomas has 297 passing yards and two touchdowns already this season, but he is in for his first defensive test after two effortless wins over Wofford and Tulane. The Eagles' triple option offense has two great rushers in Matt Breida and Kevin Ellison, who have combined for a total of 271 yards so far this season. This will be a close game that surprises many this weekend.

Prediction: 24-21 Georgia Tech

Air Force at Georgia State:

Teams like Air Force are always frightening, and can pull an upset at any time. This weekend, the Falcons will not need any luck in defeating a weak Georgia State football team. Georgia State snapped its losing streak by beating an unimpressive Abilene Christian team the first game of the season. That one-point win does not prove that they will have a successful season this year, however. Air Force running back Jacobi Owens has already rushed for over 300 yards this season, and he should have no problem this weekend against a Panther defense which has already allowed 71 points in two games. While this game may not be a complete blowout, it should be a decisive win for Air Force.

Prediction: 42-28 Air Force

Arkansas State at Miami:

The matchup between both of these 1-1 teams would not be one I would suggest watching. Arkansas State relies on its star quarterback, Fredi Knighten, who has almost thrown for 400 yards already this season. While this may work against non-BCS teams, he will struggle against a talented Hurricanes football team. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown for 351 yards and running back Duke Johnson has rushed for 187 yards on the season. Miami is a .500 football team, but it has played as expected, losing to Louisville and beating Florida A&M in its first two games. This matchup should go as planned for the Hurricanes in a decisive win against Arkansas State.

Prediction: 42-21 Miami

Louisiana at Ole Miss:

Louisiana was expected to be the top team in the Sun Belt Conference this year. After a Week Wwo loss against Louisiana Tech, the expectations for the Cajuns have dropped slightly. Quarterback Terrance Broadway will still be the leading component in Louisiana’s offense, but it doesn’t matter how well this team competes, the Cajuns will lose against a surprisingly strong Rebel football team. Ole Miss is the wild card pick this year in the SEC West. The Rebels have an outstanding defense led by the Nkemdiche brothers, and a solid offense led by quarterback Bo Wallace. Ole Miss is fighting for a spot in the SEC Championship Game, and this matchup is merely a bump in the road for the Rebels.

Prediction 41-14 Ole Miss

Mississippi State at South Alabama:

When neighboring southern states such as Mississippi and Alabama play each other in football, a great matchup is expected. This is not the case here. Mississippi State is trying to stay competitive with its in-state rival Ole Miss, and it is off to a great start so far. The Bulldogs are 2-0 and are led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who has thrown for nearly 500 yards and eight touchdowns. South Alabama would have a successful season by remaining a contender in the Sun Belt. The Jaguars have only played one game, but they put together a strong performance when running back Jay Jones ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns. This game is already considered a Bulldog win in sports fans' eyes.

Prediction: 35-17 Mississippi State

Western Michigan at Idaho:

This is another matchup between Sun Belt and MAC teams, just like we saw last week in the game between South Alabama and Kent State. Idaho lost last week in a nail biter against UL Monroe. Western Michigan running back Jarvion Franklin has put up impressive numbers with 163 rushing yards on only 19 carries, but his offensive performance is rivaled by Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan, who has already thrown for 324 yards and three touchdowns. The Sun Belt has proven to be a stronger conference than the MAC this year, and this matchup between two middle-of-the-conference teams should go in the stronger conference’s favor.

Prediction: 34-28 Idaho

Abilene Christian at Troy:

Both of these two teams, at 0-2, have had a rough beginning to their seasons. Troy has had a more difficult schedule so far, after playing a talented ACC team in Duke last Saturday. The Trojans were at one point up by a score of 14-3, which proved that they have the ability to compete with a team in a BCS conference. Quarterback Brandon Silvers has had his trouble putting the ball in the end zone, but he has already thrown for an impressive 322 yards this season. Abilene Christian gave Georgia State its first win in 13 games in the first game of the season, and is not expected to beat a more talented Troy team.

Prediction: 24-14 Troy

UL Monroe at LSU:

These two football programs enter the game off to a 2-0 start. The only difference is LSU is an SEC football team with an achievable goal in making it to the College Football Playoff, while UL Monroe is trying to exclusively prove that it can be on top of the Sun Belt. Last weekend, LSU demolished a non-BCS team in Sam Houston State by a score of 56-0. LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings has already won the starting job and has put up outstanding numbers: 427 passing yards and five touchdowns. It is not expected that LSU will put up those kind of numbers against a much more talented UL Monroe team, but it is still expected to be a blow out.

Prediction: 45-17 LSU

New Mexico State at UTEP:

New Mexico State is off to a strong start at 2-0. However, a 1-1 football team in UTEP is still favored over the Aggies this weekend. The Miners lost a close game against a BCS conference team in Texas Tech last weekend. The struggle that the Miners are facing as of now is the quarterback position. UTEP only averages 116 yards passing per game. That is where a hot New Mexico State team can take advantage of the Miners. The Aggies are not struggling in the passing game with quarterback Tyler Rogers already having 399 passing yards under his belt. This game should be a close one, but I don’t see an upset occurring here.

Prediction: 24-21 UTEP

Navy at Texas State:

Navy seemed to be a very dangerous football team after giving Ohio State a run for its money in Week One. That performance was dampened, though, by the fact that Ohio State was demolished in Week Two by Virginia Tech. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds has proved to be a threat on his feet with 215 yards rushing. At the same time, he has been a disappointment with a ridiculously low passing total of 50 yards. Texas State has put up impressive numbers statistically in both rushing and passing, with quarterback Tyler Jones throwing for almost 300 yards and four scores. However, that shouldn’t make a difference over a dominant Navy football team.

Prediction: 27-14 Navy

The Sun Belt Weekend Primer was written by Southern Pigskin's Jackson Schroeder.