College Football 2023: Sun Belt
It is the month of August 2023 and, as always at this time of year, excitement is building for the coming Football season. That includes NFL and College Football. Most every sports bettor is quite familiar with the NFL as it is certainly the most popular among sports betting markets. Additionally, when it comes to College Football, many sports bettors are quite familiar with the Power 5 Conferences.
The “Power 5” Conferences include the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. Those major conferences in College Football along with the 32 teams in the NFL dominate the attention of most everyone this time of year and heading into the football season. That said, my focus heading into the new season is covering the “other 6” which is the “Group of 5” Conferences as well as the small group of Independents.
These less popular teams which comprise the “other” conferences absolutely deserve some attention and yet many sports bettors are the least familiar with these smaller conferences. That is even with the best value often being found where others just do not focus the attention. That said, I feel there is value in at least giving a “quick hitter” preview at these teams heading into the 2023 season.
Sun Belt (East listed first then West):
Appalachian State – Looking for overs with this team. Replacing the QB on offense but still look strong on that side of the ball while this defense loaded with question marks.
Coastal Carolina – Still a favorite to win the East but they lost a lot of experience on defense and they were not strong there to begin with. Still seem to have a little more talent than the other teams in the league however.
Georgia Southern – I like what they are building here. Solid head coach and a respectable program that is scrappy and so the Eagles will be good enough to surprise teams and could be a value team worth watching in this league.
Georgia State – The Panthers will try to pound teams up front as they want to run and create physicality. Can their lines hold up though? Not against some of the stronger teams that can beat them in the trenches. Will likely finish near the bottom of the East.
James Madison – They are solid but they lost a little too much to be quite as strong as last season the way I see it. They could be a bit overvalued because of their solid season last year.
Marshall – One of the better teams in the conference but only a few starters returning on defense and though this is a solid and athletic program, I have some concerns about the Thundering Herd until we see how the pieces mesh.
Old Dominion – Monarchs could be the worst team in the conference. Remember they are still a new program when it comes to this level of football and though they are well-coached, the talent level and depth with this program is just not quite there yet.
Arkansas State – Despite not a lot of returning starters, this offensive unit looks solid and they should perform well under an aggressive coaching style. But I do not trust this defense and this could be a club to keep an eye on for overs this season.
Louisiana – Look for last season to be an aberration as the Ragin Cajuns took a step back. This team has solid talent defensively and having a rare solid defense in this conference can absolutely lead to a few extra wins in conference games.
South Alabama – The Jaguars might be the best team in the SunBelt and I will be looking for value spots to back them. They can beat you on both sides of the ball and have really built up a solid homegrown roster in recent seasons.
Southern Miss – Like Louisiana, this is a team where I like the way their defense is looking and that counts for something. We could see unders with this Eagles team because the offense still needs to grow more and I think the defense will be the story with this team.
Texas State – Hard to trust the Bobcats early on for anything because there has been so much roster turnover. At the same time though, they look like a team that should be able to score a lot of points as they will go fast. The problem down in San Marcos, TX is that this team looks like they will not be able to stop anyone on defense.
Troy – One of the best programs in the SunBelt seemingly year in and year out and this season should be no different. The Trojans will again be near the top and they are just solid on both side of the ball, at least by the standards of this conference they will again be on of the most complete programs.
ULM – As bad as Texas State and Arkansas State look, the Warhawks likely will be even worse and beat them to the cellar. The defense allowed about 35 points per game last season and they just not have the athleticism that most of the other SBC programs have. Warhawks struggle again this season. Too many newcomers here.