NCAAF – Sun Belt Division Odds: Appalachian State, Louisiana Favored for Title

Not Much Has Changed in Race for Sun Belt title

Can anybody prevent another Appalachian State-Louisiana title showdown? There have been three Sun Belt football championship games and in each one of them, Appalachian State faced off against Louisiana. Appalachian State won the titles in 2018 and 2019 while Louisiana capped a dominant season with an eight-point win over Appalachian State in 2021. Let’s take a look at the Sun Belt Division odds.

Coastal Carolina did break through to win a division title in 2020 and would have played Louisiana in the 2020 title tilt, but the game was called off due to the global pandemic.

According to the NCAAF Sun Belt odds, Appalachian State is listed at +125 to win the East Division title followed by Coastal Carolina (+275), Marshall (+325), and Georgia State (+450).

In the West Division, Louisiana is the overwhelming favorite at -140. Troy (+425), South Alabama (+550), and Southern Mississippi (+800) are the teams expected to pose the biggest threat to Louisiana’s bid for a fifth straight division title.

Seven teams have expected regular-season win totals that would make them bowl eligible in 2022 so that could be a step up after just four Sun Belt teams posted winning records a season ago.

The season kicks off on Sept. 2 when Old Dominion faces Virginia Tech. Other showdowns to keep an eye on include North Carolina facing Appalachian State as well as Troy playing at Ole Miss, Georgia State meeting South Carolina, and UL Monroe going up against Texas during Week 1 of the college football season.

Here’s a look at the top contenders in the college football Sun Belt heading into the 2022 season.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (+225 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

Appalachian State hasn’t led the Sun Belt in rushing offense since 2017. The return of Nate Noel (1126 yards) and Camerun Peoples (926 yards and 14 touchdowns) could give the Mountaineers a chance to lead the way on the ground, especially with offensive lineman Cooper Hodges leading the way.

Chase Brice threw for 3337 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2021 so it won’t be all about the running game.
Trey Cobb (75 tackles), Nick Hampton (68 tackles), and Steven Jones (51 tackles, five interceptions) return to lead the defense. They are major reasons why the Sun Belt Division odds favor Appalachian State to win the conference title even if the odds moved slightly from +200 to +225.

The odds are at -125 for the Mountaineers to go over the expected regular-season win total of 8.5.

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (+325 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

Head coach Billy Napier and two offensive linemen made the move from Louisiana to Florida. Still, there is more than enough talent for Louisiana to repeat as division and conference champions.

Eight of the top 15 players in catches a season ago were either freshmen or sophomores. Chris Smith is one of the Sun Belt’s top running backs and he has a chance to go over 1,000 yards. He could have even more opportunities after Montrell Johnson also headed to Florida.

Speaking of transfers, leading tackler Lorenzo McCaskill is transferring to Kansas.

Defensive linemen Zi’Yon Hill and Andre Jones return after combining for 12.5 sacks last season. If they get some help, this is a team that could make a run at the conference title even with the coaching change.

The Sun Belt title odds have dropped from +275 to +325 over the last month. The odds are almost the same for Louisiana to finish either over (-120) or under (-110) 8.5 wins.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (+425 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

Coastal Carolina is picking up steam as a challenger to the usual Sun Belt heavyweights with championship odds jumping from +550 to +425 in the last month. The odds are at -140 for Coastal Carolina to finish under the expected win total of eight.

Quarterback Grayson McCall and offensive lineman Willie Lampkin return to lead the offense. McCall will need to find some new favorite receivers with Jaivon Heiligh and Isaiah Likely off to the NFL.

The best player could be Josaiah Stewart (12.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles as a freshman).

Marshall Thundering Herd (+450 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

Marshall is really gaining support going from +800 to +450 in the odds to win the Sun Belt.
Marshall comes in from Conference USA with -170 odds to go over the expected win total of 6.5 during the regular season.

Running back Rasheen Ali ran for 1401 yards and 23 touchdowns as a freshman, had 45 catches, and returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown as a redshirt freshman. Top receiver Corey Gammage (78 catches, 869 yards) also returns.

Linebacker Abraham Beauplan (110 tackles, 10 tackles for loss), linebacker Eli Neal and defensive lineman Koby Cumberlander will lead the defense.

Georgia State Panthers (+800 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

Georgia State has held firm at +800 in the Sun Belt championship odds as the NCAA football season is less than a month away from getting started.

The Panthers are another team with a veteran running back to call upon after Tucker Gregg had 953 rushing yards.

Linebackers Jordan Veneziale and Blake Carroll are back for the Panthers while Antavious Lane (81 tackles, five interceptions) is a defensive player to keep an eye on.

The odds are currently at -155 for Georgia State to come in under the expected win total of 7.5.

Troy Trojans (+1200 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

The strength for the Trojans could come on defense with the return of linebacker Carlton Martial (127 tackles), edge rusher Javon Solomon (17 tackles for loss, 11 sacks), and defensive lineman Richard Jibunor (eight sacks). Perhaps that is why the conference champions’ betting odds have improved slightly from +1400 to +1200.

Receiver Tez Johnson returns after leading Troy with 735 yards on 67 catches.

James Madison Dukes (not eligible for the 2022 Sun Belt title)

James Madison’s first season in the Sun Belt and as an FBS member features an expected regular-season win total of 6.5. It will be interesting to see how one of the best FCS programs in college football adjusts to life in the Sun Belt.

Quarterback Todd Centeio threw for nearly 3,000 yards and ran for 439 more for Colorado State before heading to James Madison. He figures to get comfortable throwing to speedy receiver Kris Thornton. Offensive lineman Nick Kidwell was a first-team All-Colonial pick and now will lead the Dukes into the Sun Belt.

Edge rusher Isaak Ukwu is a player to watch on defense.

South Alabama Jaguars (+2000 odds to win the Sun Belt title)

South Alabama has seen it’s Sun Belt Division odds improve from +2200 to +2000.

The secondary should be in good shape with the return of safety Keith Gallmon (59 tackles) and cornerback Darrell Luter (four interceptions, 10 pass breakups.

Keep an eye on tight end Lincoln Sefick after he had 32 receptions in 2021.

Best of the rest

There is a logjam at +4000 with Arkansas State, Old Dominion, Southern Mississippi, and Texas State all tied for eighth in the current odds to win the Sun Belt.

Kivon Bennett will look to build on his 2021 numbers (58 tackles and eight sacks) for Arkansas State. More is expected from former Florida State quarterback James Blackman.

Old Dominion certainly has some star power led by safety R’Tarriun Johnson (91 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups), receiver Ali Jennings (61 catches, 1063 yards), and tight end Zack Kuntz (team-high 73 catches).
The Monarchs are trending in the right direction, going from +6600 to +4000 in the Sun Belt Division odds in the last month.

Leading tackler Hayes Maples and running back Frank Gore are key returnees for Southern Mississippi.

Texas State is a big mover in the Sun Belt Division odds going from +8000 to +4000 in the span of four weeks.
Texas State brought in 15 transfers, including ones from Arizona, Baylor, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Texas. Quarterback Layne Hatcher, who passed for nearly 4500 yards with 38 touchdown passes over the last two seasons at Arkansas State, is among the transfers to keep an eye on. The highest-rated incoming transfer is former Texas defensive lineman Myron Warren.

Anthony Wilson is back after leading the team with 78 tackles as a sophomore for Georgia Southern, which comes in at +6600 in the Sun Belt title odds. Former USC head coach Clay Helton and three-year Buffalo starting quarterback Kyle Vantrease hope to improve the Georgia State offense.

Louisiana Monroe has +15000 odds to win the Sun Belt. The defense needs a lot of work, however, the return of second-leading tackler Zack Woodard and defensive lineman Caleb Thomas is a nice place to start.

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