The Sun Belt has some of the most underrated teams in College Football.
Both Coastal Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette finished inside the final AP Top 25 and Appalachian State received the most votes outside of the rankings.
How will the top of the conference shake out in 2021? Here are two win totals I’m playing, focused on a team that I see as the class of the ‘Fun Belt.’
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Billy Napier’s team has the most returning production in the entire country this season, headlined by the return of two year starter Levi Lewis at quarterback.
Lewis is a capable runner, and while the Ragin’ Cajun must replace their top two running backs, they bring in a Texas A&M transfer Jacob Kibodi. As well, Lewis is a capable runner himself, averaging more than six yards per carry on 55 rushes last season.
In the passing game, everyone is back and Lewis should continue to grow after completing nearly 60% of his passes last season.
The defense returns nearly every starter back on a unit that allowed just over 22 points per game. This could be Napier's best team in four years on both sides of the ball.
The schedule also lends me to this over.
They do go to Austin for a matchup with Texas in Week 1, but do not sleep on ULL pulling an upset against a retooling Longhorns team. This is the same team that beat Iowa State last season with ease in Week 1.
Elsewhere, they get 10 days to prepare for Appalachian State at home in what is the Ragin Cajun's only real test in Sun Belt play.
A late road trip against Liberty, who is off of a bye, will be challenging, but all Napier and his team needs is one of those wins to stay in line for 10 wins.
With as much experience as any team in the country, I expect Louisiana-Lafayette to be back in the Sun Belt Championship game, clearing this win total with favorable odds.
The rush heavy Eagles are going through some changes in 2021, and a tough schedule can lead to them falling to the basement of the conference.
Shai Werts is out at quarterback, and it’s a two man competition between last year’s backup Justin Tomlin and Sam Kenerson, who saw seldom snaps in his freshman season last year. Coach Chad Lunsford didn't commit to Tomlin at Sun Belt media day, and we'll see how that plays out during the early stages of the season.
The lack of confidence in the quarterback is concerning for a team that is typically so reliant on it after the do-it-all Werts led them in rushing last season. He threw for 1,062 yards but ran for nearly as much, 720 yards.
Georgia Southern relied on the run as much as any team in the country. The team ran the second most rushing plays, behind only Army, and were top five in rushing yards per game in 2020.
While Lunsford and the coaching staff bring back a ton of on the defense, how will they keep it up after leading the nation in interceptions; is there some regression in order?
Either way, the schedule doesn’t play into their favor.
Non conference road trips to Florida Atlantic and Arkansas can spell trouble in back-to-back weeks, and then they face ULL at home. The team draws Coastal Carolina at home before a late non conference matchup against BYU at home, but the Cougars are off a bye.
With a ton of toss up games, it’s tough to back the over with some juice considering all the questions surrounding an offense that is so reliant on their quarterback making plays as not only a passer but a runner.
I like the under at even money.