Considering we are halfway through the regular season, and we now have not one, but two teams in Appalachian State and Troy on the cusp of being bowl eligible, now would be as good of time as any to project the likelihood of postseason play and potential destinations for the Sun Belt schools
THE (ALMOST) LOCKS
Appalachian State (5-2)
Its almost a guarantee at this point, as the Mountaineers are one win away from the coveted six wins it requires to become eligible. Although the Mountaineers have not made winning look super easy this season, the schedule remains favorable. Currently at 4-0 in Sun Belt play, any bowl destination is in play as there is so much football left to be played.
Very similar to Appalachian, the Trojans will be bowling this season barring a complete collapse. Their next four opponents are a combined 4-23 and all sit at the bottom of the Sun Belt standings. They’ll get Georgia Southern this weekend, just days removed from firing their head coach, albeit, they have yet to beat the Eagles in Sun Belt play. A date at Arkansas State on the last weekend of the regular season will determine where each team likely lands in late December.
Arkansas State (4-2)
Red Wolves fans are mad online for the consideration of even putting them as the third “almost lock” to make a bowl. However, they are a win behind Troy and Appalachian. Ark. State might have just put Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth directly on the hot seat with a 47-3 drubbing on Thursday night. Getting to six wins is likely, but their path is tougher than the two schools previously mentioned. New Mexico State and South Alabama await the Red Wolves in the next two weeks.
MAYBE WE’LL GET THERE
Georgia State (3-3)
The Panthers are the leaders by default of the middle of the Sun Belt. They are halfway there as far as wins are concerned, and have three home games remaining. South Alabama and Appalachian look like their biggest concerns going forward. Besides that, they play a very favorable load in Idaho, Texas State and Georgia Southern.
South Alabama (3-4)
Perhaps the hottest team in the middle, South Alabama has consecutive wins over Troy and UL-Monroe to catapult the Jaguars into the conversation. Their path is difficult, needing three wins in their last five games, and they have to deal with Georgia State, Arkansas State & New Mexico State. They’ll likely need to beat one of those schools as Louisiana and Georgia Southern appear to be likely wins.
Another team in need of three wins and only five chances to pull it off. The Cajuns looked terrible last Thursday night against Arkansas State and have absolutely zero wins of any quality. They face South Alabama this weekend in what is basically a must win game to keep any hopes alive. They face App State, Ole Miss and New Mexico State down the stretch and have quarterback concerns going forward.
New Mexico State (3-4)
The path for the Aggies seems likely, but like many others, they need three wins in five games. The toughest remaining tests are Arkansas State, who they will have had two weeks to prepare for, and South Alabama at the end of the season, which appears to be a make or break game for both programs to become eligible. They have zero bad losses, and as much offense as anyone in the conference.
IT AIN’T HAPPENING
They looked better two weeks ago, but have since lost two straight, and find themselves in a perilous position. They have four games left for certain and are in need of three wins between the likes App State, Ark State, Auburn and Idaho. The Warhawks have made some strides in 2017, but aren’t there yet on the defensive side of the ball.
SNOWBALLS CHANCE IN STATESBORO
We could probably give Idaho (2-5) a better chance of reaching the postseason than their three other counterparts in this section, but they have three road games remaining, in games they will not be favored. The Vandals are not going 4-1 to end the season.
Texas State, Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern all have six losses. The Eagles just fired their coach. Texas State has lost six in a row and Coastal Carolina, is getting better, but they are not there and will not get there, even if they were eligible to go bowling.