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Sun Belt Will Claim NY6 Bowl Spot This Season

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

In 2018 App State finished with a 11-2 overall record. Losing a season opening overtime thriller to Penn State in Happy Valley, they then beat their next 5 opponents by an average of 36.4/ppg. The Mountaineers did drop a tough game in Statesboro to their rivals, Georgia Southern, 34-14, but looked to atone for that loss by beating their next 6 opponents by an average of 21.5/ppg, include their bowl game against MTSU.

2019 saw a return from most of that App State roster and a slightly better overall record of 13-1.

Once again, the Mountaineers would drop a game to Georgia Southern, 24-21. Ruining their best hopes for a NY6 bowl bid, even with two victories over power five programs, North & South Carolina, on their own home fields.

Enter the Covid year and 2020 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. In what seemingly came from nowhere, Grayson McCall led the Chanticleers to national prominence by starting the year beating power five opponent, Kansas 38-23 (their first ever P5 victory at home).

The winning would continue as a last second date would be scheduled with then undefeated BYU. A great battle from both sides until Coastal put the game away late to win 22-17. Covid (cough, cough) would cancel the Sun Belt championship game that could have been enough to vault Coastal into the NY6 over Cincinnati, had they won. Coastal would finish the year 11-1.

In 2021 the Ragin Cajuns would spice things up and become the Sun Belt’s number one contender. Louisiana would suffer a season opening defeat to Texas 38-18, but then rattle off 12 straight wins, including a second victory over App State in the Sun Belt championship game (their first since the championship game began). It would have been difficult for the Cajuns to jump an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcat team (who would be the first ever G5 rep in the CFP), but the Cajuns would settle for a bowl matchup with Marshall. Now a conference foe, but in C-USA at the time, the Cajuns would win 36-21 finishing with a record of 13-1.

Similar to the Cajuns of the previous season, the Troy Trojans would suffer defeat to open the 2022 campaign. Losing 32-10 at Ole Miss. Unlike Louisiana, the Trojans would win only one game before losing again. An absolute heartbreaker of a hail mary would push App State just past the Trojans in Boone, 32-28. Troy could have easily crumbled after that defeat and beginning their season 1-2. Instead, they pushed on, winning 11 straight games to cap the year. The last victory likely being the biggest, as they took on a ranked UTSA team down in Orlando, winning a surprisingly tight defensive

battle, 18-12. Troy would finish with a 12-2 overall record.

So that puts us here, in 2023. The AAC of old is gone. C-USA has been piecemealed back together with teams making the jump up from FCS. The MAC hasn’t been in the conversation for years and the Mountain West champs have suffered at least 2 losses (or more) in 9 out of the last 10 seasons. Enter the Sun Belt. With additions of Southern Miss, Marshall, James Madison, & Old Dominion, this conference has gone the opposite of the others and gained strength. They are now in prime position for their top team to ascend the G5 mountain top and claim their first ever appearance in the NY6 bowl game. From the West side, be on the lookout for Troy & South Alabama. Over in the East, keep tabs on Coastal Carolina & Marshall. And be certain not to count out previous champions App State & Louisiana, as they look to get back to their winning traditions & championship banners. Oh, you want the hidden gem that’s not so obvious?

Take a chance on Southern Miss looking pretty good after this season is all

said and done. They’ve got 2 ranked teams in the first 3 weeks, they win those, and the Golden Eagles just may be back!

1 comment

1 Comment

Robert Crosetto
Robert Crosetto
Jun 11, 2023

I‘m hooked on the “Fun” Belt. Been to a few games over the last few seasons and hitting at least 2 more in 2023. Speed kills, and this conference has plenty of that. Preparation against P5 squads is impressive too.

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