Best Sun Belt NCAA Football Odds Teams In 2015

Posted by Alex Murphy on August 25, 2015 in

Partly because of the many changes in the conference composition and mainly because of the understandable obsession on the Power Five Conferences, the Sun Belt Conference has not received its deserved share of media attention, making it difficult for NCAA Football bettors to know what to expect from the conference. Well, with the little—but loud—voice we have here, we are going to change that, starting by taking an in-depth look at the teams that are likely to be the best in the Sun Belt Conference in 2015. In turn, this should give you a chance to place some well-advised wagers on some these hot College Football betting odds favorites and solid darkhorses.

Which Will be the best Sun Belt Teams In 2015?

Georgia Southern

If there’s ever something like a storybook start in the FBS, Georgia Southern certainly had one last year. In their first year of transitioning from an FSC level to an FBS conference, the Eagles flew past their established Sun Belt counterparts, delivering a flawless 8-0 record in Sun Belt play, a 9-3 overall record and an outright clinching of the conference title. The Eagles, however, didn’t participate in a bowl game, as the NCAA rules prohibit teams from taking part in Bowl games during their transitioning seasons. Entering their second year and being eligible for the Bowlanza, you can be sure that Georgia Southern will be fired up to give another solid performance for a chance to claim a Bowl title. To champion their bid, the Eagles are returning 5 offensive starters and 8 defensive starters, which should encourage efficiency on both sides of the ball. In terms of losses, the team will be without 6 offensive starters and 3 defensive starters from last season, including OLs Garrett Frye and OL Manrey Saint-Amour, along with LB Edwin Jackson. Still, this is a Georgia Southern team that led the entire nation in rushing offense, averaging 381.1 YPG, and was 10th-best in scoring (averaging 39.1 PPG). And more importantly, the key tenets of that offense–RB Matt Breida (1,485 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2014) and QB Kevin Ellison (1,096 rushing yards, 1,001 passing yards and 17 total touchdowns in 2014)–are back in the 2015. In the defense, standout defensemen DL Jay Ellison and DB Matt Dobson are also back to lead the team. So even with their player losses, the team still has the ingredients needed to easily repeat as Sun Belt champions.

Louisiana Lafayette

To understand the pedigree of the Ragin’ Cajuns Football team and what they bring to the betting boards, here is a little something about them and their 2014 season. During the 2014 preseason rankings, they were favored to win the Sun Belt, but when the season began, things started on a very wrong note, a 1-3 record in the first four games, including double-digit losses to Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, and Boise State. However, in Week 5, they beat Georgia State 34-31 and went on to win seven of their next eight games, finishing the season on an 8-4 mark (7-1 in the Sun Belt). This earned them a second position in the Conference (behind Georgia Southern) and a chance to go bowling. Expectedly, they seized the opportunity, defeating Nevada 16-3 to win their fourth straight New Orleans Bowl, giving them a 9-4 overall mark. Mind you, this is a school that had never been to a bowl game just five years ago. Even more notably, since Mark Hudspeth arrived in Louisiana in 2011, the team has finished with 9 wins every season. So although the battle between Brooks Haack and Jalen Nixon doesn’t hold much promise at QB, and the team returns just 11 starters, the worst-case scenario for this team will probably be another 9-win season and a fifth straight bowl. If things can click in time for the new season and the team can avoid injuries, reaching the elusive 10-win mark should be possible for Hudspeth, possibly with an outright Sun Belt title to their name.

Arkansas State

The Red Wolves have been a serious team in the Sun Belt over the recent years, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a good team once again in 2015. Last year, things didn’t go too well and they finished with a 7-6 overall mark with a 5-3 record in Sun Belt play, which was indeed short of their expected standard. Nonetheless, Arkansas State has the pieces required to make a serious breakthrough in 2015. Offensively, the Wolves arguably have the best QB in the conference in Fredi Knighten and a solid backup in highly-rated incoming freshman quarterback D.J. Pearson. Starter Knighten and his backup will be leading an explosive offense that had 73 plays from scrimmage longer than 20 yards last year. Not to mention, Arkansas State will be having a total of nine starters from last year’s offense, including RB Michael Gordon, who is coming off a productive season and tipped to be huge once again in 2015. Defensively, the team will be equally dangerous, featuring a scary duo of pass rushers in Chris Stone and Ja’Von Rolland-Jones—arguably the best two-man pass rushing havoc-wrecking duo in the league. Added to a returning second year coach that proved capable of sticking it against the big boys, this Arkansas State team could be on its way to a flawless conference record, or at least 9 overall wins and a good bowl game, at worst.

Best of the Best Sun Belt 2015 Regular Season Predictions

•    Conference Title: Georgia Southern (10-2, 8-0)
•    The Remaining Competition: Louisiana Lafayette (9-3, 7-1), Arkansas State (9-3, 7-1)

Best of the Rest Sun Belt 2015 Regular Season Predictions

Appalachian State

Have tons of potential, and if they can continue from their solid 2014 finish (five straight wins, including a win over Louisiana-Lafayette), then they should be strong contenders for the Sun Belt title.

Predicted Finish: 8-4 (6-2).

Texas State

After finishing 5-3 in the league last year and losing two games to Southern and South Alabama by a combined total of just seven points, there’s no doubt that this Texas team could be a big sleeper title contender in the Sun Belt. This is mainly because the Bobcats return with solid starters, including QB Tyler Jones, giving them a chance to make some noise and frustrate a couple of the so-called top teams in the conference.

Predicted Finish: 7-5 (5-3).