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2023 Sun Belt Conference Football Preview





Predicted Order of Finish


East Division


1. James Madison- the Dukes, who posted an impressive 8-3 record in their FBS debut, have 6 returning starters from last year’s formidable defense led by junior LB’s Jailin Walker and Taurus Jones, 2022 Sun Belt Offensive POY Todd Centeio must be replaced at QB and the schedule includes road trips to Coastal Carolina and Troy OVER/UNDER Total Wins 8.5

2. Coastal Carolina- senior QB Grayson McCall’s (school-record 78 TD passes) decision to stay with the new coaching staff along with a favorable schedule (no Troy, USA) makes the Chanticleers Sun Belt title contenders once again, the defense, which lacked consistency last year, was hit hard by roster turnover OVER/UNDER Total Wins 7.5


3. Marshall- the Thundering Herd defense, which ranked in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed last year, returns both its leading tackler and pass rusher while on offense junior RB Rasheen Ali is fully healthy, sophomore QB Cam Fancher must be more consistent as a passer after an up and down freshman year OVER/UNDER Total Wins 7.5


4. Appalachian State- leading rusher junior RB Nate Noel returns along with the bulk of the O-line that allowed just 18 sacks in 2022, the QB spot is unsettled following the departure of 2-year starter Chase Brice and on defense the Mountaineers must replace sack leader and first-team All-Sun Belt LB Nick Hampton OVER/UNDER Total Wins 6.5


5. Georgia Southern- 6-year senior Tulsa transfer Davis Brin (37 career TD passes) is set to step into the QB spot and will be surrounded by talent at both RB and WR along with 4 returning starters on the O-line, defensively the Eagles couldn’t stop anyone last season and must break in a new coordinator along with 8 new starters OVER/UNDER Total Wins 5.5


6. Georgia State- senior QB Darren Grainger rushed for 734 yards and tallied 18 TD’s last season and 5 out of the Panthers 8 losses were by a combined 18 points, with holes to fill at key positions, including 2-time All-Sun Belt S Antavious Lane, the defense could once again reside near the bottom of the Sun Belt rankings OVER/UNDER Total Wins 5.5


7. Old Dominion- the offense is stockpiled at WR led by junior Javon Harvey (558 yards, 4 TD’s) and junior LB Jason Henderson is back on defense after leading FBS in tackles last season with 186, 2-year starting QB Hayden Wolff transferred, and the Monarchs will be under a third offensive coordinator in 3 seasons OVER/UNDER Total Wins 3.5



West Division


1. South Alabama- the Jaguars return 18 starters from last year’s team that exceeded expectations by winning 10 games and posting a 7-1 mark in Sun Belt play, the secondary needs some ironing out and the schedule is more challenging this season with road games against Tulane, Oklahoma State, JMU, and Troy OVER/UNDER Total Wins 7.5


2. Troy- the Trojans have key pieces back from last year’s defense that finished 8th in FBS in points allowed and have a capable QB in senior Gunner Watson who had four 300 plus yard passing games in 2022, Watson must cut down on his 12 INT’s last year and the O-line must step up its play after allowing 46 sacks OVER/UNDER Total Wins 8.5


3. Southern Miss- the bulk of the defensive front that recorded 44 sacks last year (4th most in FBS) is back and junior RB Frank Gore Jr. (1,382 yards, 9 TD’s) leads the offense, the QB position remains up for grabs and the Golden Eagles must navigate through a schedule that includes road trips to FSU, USA, and Mississippi State OVER/UNDER Total Wins 5.5


4. Louisiana- the strength of the Rajun Cajuns will be the O-line and although QB is unsettled there are veteran options to choose from, the offense, which lacked firepower last year, must replace both its leading receiver and rusher while the defense lost 8 starters including sack leader DE Andre Jones (7.5) OVER/UNDER Total Wins 7.5


5. Arkansas State- HC Butch Jones reunites with Colorado transfer senior QB J.T. Shrout to try to ignite the Red Wolves' sluggish offense from last year and All-Sun Belt sophomore kicker Dominic Zvada returns on special teams, the O-line remains a question after it gave up 38 sacks last year and the D-line must be rebuilt OVER/UNDER Total Wins 4.5


6. Louisiana-Monroe- the Warhawks return senior WR Tyrone Howell, who led the team with 50 catches and 6 TD’s, and drew a favorable conference schedule getting Appalachian State, South Alabama, and Troy at home, the offense was hit hard by the transfer portal losing starting QB Chandler Rodgers along with a pair of RB’s OVER/UNDER Total Wins 3.5


7. Texas State- the offense picked up junior Arkansas transfer and former 4-star recruit QB Malik Hornsby to run the offense and senior DE Jordan Revels earned All-Sun Belt recognition in 2022, a new staff along with massive roster turnover on both sides of the ball all but assures a rebuilding year for the Bobcats OVER/UNDER Total Wins 4.5



Buy- Arkansas State- Butch Jones, who has won at every school he’s coached (89-73), gets the Red Wolves back near .500 in his third year in Jonesboro


Sell- None


Best Bet- Arkansas State OVER total wins


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