Control of the conference is quickly shifting away from the team that has dominated it for almost the entire decade. New teams and old dynasties are looking to stake their claim to the Sun Belt.
We are a month into the 2016 season, and story lines are beginning to unfold. Teams are falling into place, and everyone will be embroiled in their conference rivalries in the coming weeks.
The defending champions Arkansas State continue their downward spiral. Troy, who ransacked the Sun Belt from 2006-2010, is looking more and more like a championship contender.
Georgia Southern still leads the Sun Belt with the most conference wins, but they suffered their first set back this weekend. Appalachian State and Georgia State can throw their names into the mix when they open their conference schedules against each other this week.
Here is how all 11 Sun Belt teams look after September.
11. Arkansas State (0-4, 0-0)
The Red Wolves have hit rock bottom. This past Saturday they lost to FCS Central Arkansas 28-23 to fall to 0-4. Just a reminder, they won 11 games and the Sun Belt Championship last year. They also won the conference every year from 2011-2013. Fortunately for them they have an off week to regroup.
Next game: Bye
10. New Mexico State (1-3, 0-1)
The Aggies lost their conference opener to Troy in a 52-6 route. Not the game they expected after playing so well the week before against Kentucky. They have a chance to win a conference game at home next week.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st vs. Louisiana Lafayette. 8:00 pm ET
9. Idaho (2-2, 0-0)
The Vandals defeated UNLV 33-30 in overtime to win their second game of 2016, but they’re opening their conference schedule with a red-hot Troy Trojans team.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st vs. Troy. 5:00 pm ET
8. Texas State (1-2, 0-0)
The Bobcats were crushed by Houston 64-3, but they should have a much easier time this Saturday.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st vs. Incarnate Word. 7:30 pm ET
7. Georgia State (0-3, 0-0)
With an off week and teams ahead of them losing, the Panthers slide up a couple of spots. This week features a battle between two teams that almost upset top 20 opponents on the road. Both Georgia State and Appalachian State have had great games and ugly games so far, but the Panthers can win their second biggest game of all-time Saturday.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st at Appalachian State. 12:00 pm ET
6. Louisiana Lafayette (2-2, 1-0)
The Ragun’ Cajuns lost to Tulane 41-39 for their second set back of the year. At least they are still in a tie for the conference lead and they have a chance to stay there this weekend against New Mexico State.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st at New Mexico State. 8:00 pm ET
5. Louisiana Monroe (1-2, 0-1)
The Warhawks were off Saturday and two teams ahead of them lost. By default Monroe moves up. But they travel to Auburn this week for their toughest game of 2016.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st at Auburn. 3:30 pm ET
4. South Alabama (2-2, 0-2)
The Jaguars narrowly avoided the upset loss to FCS opponent Nicholls State. But since Nicholls almost beat the Georgia Bulldogs two weeks ago, we can’t penalize the Jaguars for winning 41-40. The Jaguars can get in a rhythm this week with a win over the Aztecs.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st vs. San Diego State. 8:00 pm ET
3. Georgia Southern (3-1, 2-0)
The Eagles fell for the first time in 2016 in Kalamazoo against the Western Michigan Broncos 49-31. It was the defenses first big test this season, and they didn’t do too well. They can assess their issues this week since they are off.
Next game: Bye
2. Appalachian State (2-2, 0-0)
The Mountaineers won their second game of the season against Akron. The Sun Belt hasn’t had much success against the MAC so far this season so Appalachian State and the conference will enjoy this one. They open their conference schedule this weekend hosting Georgia State.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st vs. Georgia State. 12:00 pm ET
1. Troy (3-1, 1-0)
While the defending champions are fall, the team who enjoyed the most conference success before them are poised to take over. The Trojans defeated New Mexico State Saturday in their conference opener. The Trojans look to continue their momentum this Saturday with a trip to Idaho.
Next game: Saturday, October 1st at Idaho. 5:00 pm ET