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Sun Belt Weekend Primer

By Jackson Schroeder
SouthernPigskin.com
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Coming off of a big win over Arkansas State, Louisiana hopes to keep its momentum rolling this weekend against South Alabama.

Georgia Southern at Troy:

This matchup ended up just as we all expected. Georgia Southern jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never turned back. Eagles star quarterback Kevin Ellison once again took the spotlight. Ellison rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Backup quarterback Favian Upshaw also had some success. Upshaw proved that he is a strong backup, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown. Troy had only 154 total offensive yards and didn’t score its first touchdown until there was only 1:18 left in the fourth quarter. This Georgia Southern squad continues to be very impressive, and is on a strong track to win the conference in its first year.

Score: 42-10 Georgia Southern

UL-Monroe at Texas A&M:

ULM started off strong with a 3-1 record. However, since then they have lost three straight, and have dropped to 2-2 in the Sun Belt. Warhawk quarterback Pete Thomas has continued to be impressive, and is definitely the most prominent player in their offense. Thomas has thrown for 1,562 yards and seven touchdowns this season so far, but he shouldn’t expect any large offensive numbers this Saturday against an SEC defense. Texas A&M started off the season very strong, but just like ULM, the Aggies have lost their last three games. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill has stepped up and filled Johnny Manziel’s shoes very nicely. Hill has thrown for 2,649 yards and 23 touchdowns for Texas A&M. I predict the Aggies breaking their losing streak this Saturday against a struggling Sun Belt team.

Prediction: 45-7 Texas A&M

Georgia State at Appalachian State:

This is a matchup between two struggling football programs. Georgia State is 1-7 and hasn’t won since week one, although the Panthers are way better than their record shows. Three of Georgia State’s losses have been decided by only three points. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle has been consistently impressive. Arbuckle has thrown for 2,472 yards and 16 touchdowns so far this season, and those numbers have Georgia State ranked at 15th overall in passing nationally. Appalachian State is coming off of a 53-14 win over Troy last week, but lost to a Big South team in Liberty the week before. The Mountaineers have been very off-and-on so far this season. Running backs Marcus Cox and Terrence Upshaw have been very effective and have led the Appalachian State rushing game to a 23rd ranking in all of college football. Georgia State is hungry. The Panthers are tired of losing, and they are going to pick up an upset win this weekend.

Prediction: 35-28 Georgia State

Texas State at New Mexico State:

Texas State is a solid middle-of-the-conference team in the Sun Belt. The Bobcats stand at 4-3 overall, 2-1 in the conference, and have lived off of their running game. Running back Robert Lowe has rushed for 529 yards and four touchdowns, and teammate Terrence Franks has rushed for 454 yards and six touchdowns. New Mexico State has lost six straight, and in the past two games has lost to previously-winless teams in Troy and Idaho. Quarterback Tyler Rogers has been moderately effective, throwing for 1,755 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season. The Aggies are getting into the tougher games on their schedule, and after losing the easy ones, I don’t expect them to win again.

Prediction: 24-7 Texas State

Arkansas State at Idaho:

Arkansas State is still in contention in the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves are 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the Sun Belt. Dual-threat quarterback Fredi Knighten has thrown for 1,635 yards and ten touchdowns, and has rushed for 394 yards and seven touchdowns. Arkansas State ranks 27th overall in rushing yards, and has had a good amount of offensive success this season. Idaho, on the other hand, is just trying to improve its 1-6 record. The most promising player for the Vandals is quarterback Matt Linehan, who has thrown for 1,908 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Arkansas State should improve its conference record to 3-1 this weekend against Idaho.

Prediction: 34-17 Arkansas State

South Alabama at Louisiana:

South Alabama has had a lot of success in the Sun Belt this season. The Jaguars stand at 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Sun Belt. They are led by their 28th-ranked defense. South Alabama is on a four-game winning streak, but will be seriously tested against a hot Louisiana team on Saturday. Louisiana is 4-3 overall and 3-0 in the Sun Belt. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won their last three after starting the season 1-3. The Louisiana running game, led by running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris, is ranked 26th in the country and has played a major role in the team's recent success. This weekend’s matchup will play a huge role in both of these teams' seasons.

Prediction: 23-17 South Alabama

Jackson Schroeder - Jackson Schroeder is a huge sports fan who intends on staying in the sports broadcasting and journalism field. He is an undergrad journalism major at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and a graduate of Savannah Country Day School in Savannah, Georgia. At Savannah Country Day, Jackson played three sports: football, baseball, and wrestling. He has decided to not pursue any sport in college, and take the academic route. Jackson will cover the Sun Belt Conference for Southern Pigskin.