2020 Football Preview – Sun Belt Conference Handicapping
Looking for 2020 Sun Belt Conference Predictions? Since arriving in the Sun Belt Appalachian State has yet to have a losing season and has won 10+ games in four of six seasons. They are once again replacing their coach but there are still a lot of reasons to like the Mountaineers to repeat this season.
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Louisiana Lafayette broke through with 11 wins last season and almost lost their coach in the process. However, with Billy Napier still in tow they look like the only team that could really give App State a run for their money. There is a lot in place there.
Troy had been the name brand program for a while in the Sun Belt but the result, and the odds show that they have slipped coming into this season. Don’t get pulled in by the recognition. This team is not that good this season.
Most leagues have a decent sleeper option but I am not sure that exists in the Sun Belt this season. I suppose circumstances might reveal someone but after the top two it is really hard to make a case.
2020 Sun Belt Conference Predictions: Appalachian State -167
Even though the Mountaineers will have yet another new head coach this season don’t expect too much to change this season. They will once again be one of the best rushing teams in the nation thanks to three returning all-conference players on the offensive line.
Also back is senior quarterback Zac Thomas. He does not put up the greatest stats in the App State offense but it would be hard to find a more dependable quarterback. He runs the ball well and makes the plays that the system requires. They might open things up a little with all of the experience around him but either way they are set.
This was the top defense in the conference last season. The secondary was especially good last year but there is going to be some turnover in that unit and even more at linebacker. Junior Shaun Jolly was a real difference maker last year with 5 interceptions but teams might be able to avoid him this season. I am confident the defense gets better as the season progresses.
2020 Sun Belt Conference Predictions: Lousiana Lafayette +300
Not that long ago Mark Hudspeth led the Ragin’ Cajuns to four straight 9-4 seasons so success down in Lafayette is not a complete surprise. Still, last season was a record-breaking campaign they will look to try and build upon.
It helps that Levi Lewis is considered the best quarterback in the league. He is not intimidating physically at 5’11 but he threw for over 3000 yards last season and threw just four interceptions. When your QB is mobile and makes good decisions you avoid the costly mistakes that can sink a team in any given game. Eight starters return on offense so you can expect them to keep rolling.
While offensive improvement stole the show last season the defense was also very good. Most of that unit returns and they have a dynamic force in the middle with linebacker Joe Dillon. For the Cajuns success has been keyed by getting over on Arkansas State, who they get to host this season.
2020 Sun Belt Conference Predictions: Arkansas State +1600
The Red Wolves are good, just not next-level good. Last year they had a strong offense and they can expect that to continue in 2020 even though there is some controversy at quarterback. They have all five starters returning on the offensive line, though they need that unit to improve.
Last year Arkansas State had one of the worst defenses in the nation. That said, they still lose a number of players on that side of the ball and some continuity might have been a benefit this season. It is their deficit on defense that primarily push them to non-contender status.
2020 Sun Belt Conference Predictions: Georgia Southern +1600
The middle can be a little squishy in the Sun Belt but Georgia Southern is an interesting team this season. That is because of their commitment to the running game and overall continuity amidst upheaval. No team has less passing offense last season and even if that continues this year the team can have a lot of success.
Shai Wirts is super experienced and the backfield around him racked up a ton of yards last season. They are looking to replace a couple of guys up front but they should be able to plug and play with their offense. This team overperformed with 7 wins last season.
On defense Georgia Southern is solid and they get help from an offense that generally does not produce a lot of three and outs. The strength is the linebacking corps led by Rashad Byrd, in fact all three linebackers are likely to get all-conference consideration…the three R’s, Rashad, Reynard Ellis and Randy Wade. All upperclassmen too. That group could lead to significant improvement.
2020 Sun Belt Conference Futures Betting Odds
- Appalachian State -167
- Louisiana Lafayette +300
- Arkansas State +1600
- Georgia Southern +1600
- Georgia State +1600
- Louisiana Monroe +2000
- Texas State +2500
- Troy +2500
- Coastal Carolina +3300
- South Alabama +5000
2020 Sun Belt Conference Predictions: Louisiana Lafayette (Bet Now at any of our Reviewed Online Sportsbooks!)
This conference reminds me a lot of the Mountain West with Appalachian State filling the Boise State role. In that league I could not get past the favourite but I can here. Lafayette is a nice value play.
It is too bad the Mountaineers are not even money because then I would definitely split my money but the oddsmakers are not dumb. App State is not a bad play but I think the Cajuns have enough to make them a little less than a sure thing so I don’t want to pay the premium.
The rest of the league is filled with fun but flawed teams. One thing that might be interesting to watch this season is whether it is helpful for teams to avoid getting beaten up by the big boys in non-conference play. Though those games offer profile building, and money, sometimes teams get so beat up they are not what they want to be in the conference. There are no excuses this season.
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