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Anybody’s guess: Sun Belt football title up for grabs with 9 midseason contenders

By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — At this point, it is anybody’s guess as to which teams will be vying for the Sun Belt Conference Championship in early December. Upsets in a couple of key matchups raised havoc among the early contenders.

Marshall (4-3 overall, 1-2 in Sun Belt) put more doubt in James Madison’s (5-2, 3-2) inaugural FBS season’s “Cinderella story” with a 26-12 win over the Dukes. The Thundering Herd was led by Khalan Laborn’s 151 yards rushing on 30 carries, with 2 TDs, while wide receiver Corey Gammage hauled in 5 passes for 107 yards and a TD.

Meanwhile, Georgia Southern (5-3, 2-2) breathed new life into its title hopes by upsetting Old Dominion (3-4, 2-1), 28-23. The Eagles’ Jalen White ran for 138 yards and a TD in carrying the ball 30 times, while Gerald Green added 91 yards rushing on 12 carries. Georgia Southern won in spite of Old Dominion’s Hayden Wolff completing 23 of 40 passes for 328 yards and a TD.

While Coastal Carolina has the weekend off before its Oct. 29 trip to West Virginia to play Marshall, then host Appalachian State on Nov. 3 in another nationally televised game on ESPN, the Chanticleers currently sit nervously atop the Sun Belt East Division standings with a 3-1 SBC record. Close behind is Old Dominion (2-1) and James Madison (3-2), but Georgia Southern (2-2) and Appalachian State (2-2) may still have something to say about who becomes the East Division representative if they can win out, depending on the leaders’ mix of wins and losses for the rest of the 2022 campaign.

In the Sun Belt West Division, Troy (4-1) is the decisive leader to date, but Southern Miss and South Alabama also only have one conference loss, both with 2-1 conference records. At 2-2, Louisiana may still be in the hunt, but needs to win out and get some help in handing losses to the leaders.

To date, only Coastal Carolina and Troy have the required six wins to become bowl eligible, although Georgia Southern and James Madison in the East and South Alabama in the West are just one win away.

Upcoming Matchups

    • Oct. 27 – Louisiana @ Southern Miss
    • Oct. 29 – Old Dominion @ Georgia State
    • Oct. 29 – Robert Morris @ Appalachian State
    • Oct. 29 – South Alabama @ Arkansas State
    • Oct. 29 – Coastal Carolina @ Marshall
    • Nov. 3 – Appalachian State @ Coastal Carolina
    • Nov. 5 – James Madison @ Louisville
    • Nov. 5 – Marshall @ Old Dominion
    • Nov. 5 – Georgia State @ Southern Miss
    • Nov. 5 – Troy @ Louisiana
    • Nov. 5 – Texas State @ ULM
    • Nov. 5 – South Alabama @ Georgia Southern

Regular season ends on Nov. 26.

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