Brad’s 2022 College Football Preview- Sun Belt Analysis and Predictions

Every summer since 2007 I have created an intricate set of college football predictions for each upcoming season.  This year is no exception, as I will be using my blog over the next few hours to publish my 16th annual college football preview guide which will contain 18 entries in all. The records below reflect each team’s predicted regular season overall record followed by their conference record.  These records include conference title games for the two division champions but exclude bowl games which will be previewed later on in a separate column on this blog.  The teams marked in bold font are the ones predicted to gain bowl eligibility.  Without further ado, here are my predictions for the Sun Belt Conference in 2022.

East Division

1Appalachian State (11-2, 7-1)- conference champion

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. North Carolina (September 3)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Marshall (November 12)

Bottom Line: The Mountaineers have one of the best QB/RB tandems in the Group of Five which will be anchored behind the best offensive live in the league. As a result, Brice and Peoples should be able to lead the Mountaineers back to the promised land and deliver a conference championship in Boone.

2Georgia State (7-5, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Coastal Carolina (September 22)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Marshall (November 26)- no one wants to play in Huntington in November

Bottom Line: Most people are picking Marshall or Costal to finish behind App State in the Sun Belt, but I like Georgia State, as they bring back 15 starters from 2021 including their QB as well as their top running back, receiver, and tackler. The only issue is that a brutal non-confernece schedule will prevent them from improving in the win column.

3Coastal Carolina (9-3, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Virginia (November 19)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Marshall (November 12)

Bottom Line: The loss of 9 defensive starters will test the depth of this program, but the Chants will still put up plenty of points and get plenty of wins as long as superstar QB Grayson McCall stays healthy.

4Marshall (7-5, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Appalachian State (November 12)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Bowling Green (September 17)

Bottom Line: The Thundering Herd will struggle early as they break in a new Quarterback and offensive line. However, Huntington is a tough place to play in November and that is when the Herd will make some noise.

5Old Dominion (3-9, 3-5)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Defensive Backs

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Arkansas State (September 24)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at South Alabama (November 26)

Bottom Line: The Monarchs were one of the great Cinderella stores of 2021 as they came out of nowhere to win their final 5 games and reach a bowl game. This year though they enter a new conference and face a brutal schedule which will prevent them from attaining bowl eligibility.

6James Madison (3-9, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Defensive line

Positional Weakness: Defensive Backs

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Middle Tennessee (September 3)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Texas State (October 1)

Bottom Line: The Dukes will struggle in their first year in FBS due to the dearth of D-1 talent and lack of talent, especially on offense.

7Georgia Southern (2-10, 0-8)

Positional Strength: Running Backs

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Ball State (September 24)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. James Madison (October 15)

Bottom Line: Transitioning out of a triple option attack is always difficult (see Georgia Tech), and as a result, it will take a long time for Helton to get this program going again.

West Division

1UL-Lafayette (9-3, 6-2)- conference runner-up

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Marshall (October 12)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at UL-Monroe (September 24)- upset city!

Bottom Line: The Ragin’ Cajuns will almost certainly take a step back without head coach Bill Napier and quarterback Levi Lewis, but it ultimately won’t really matter thanks to the overall lack of opposing talent in this division.

2Troy (8-4, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Western Kentucky (October 1)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at UL-Lafayette (November 5)

Bottom Line: Former Kentucky Wildcat Jon Sumrall inherits a great situation at Troy, as the Trojans are geared up for a breakout season with 18 starters returning.

3Southern Miss (6-6, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. UL-Lafayette (October 27)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Troy (October 8)

Bottom Line: The Golden Eagles will be an improved football team, as their move to the east division in football (Sun Belt West) coincides with the return of 16 starters including star running back Frank Gore Jr.

4South Alabama (7-5, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Defensive backs

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Central Michigan (September 10)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Arkansas State (October 29)

Bottom Line: Kane Womack will finally get this experienced Jaguar squad back to bowl eligibility thanks to a stout defense and a big armed QB.

5Texas State (6-6, 3-5)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Nevada (September 3)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at South Alabama (November 12)

Bottom Line: Jake Spavital will finally bring the Bobcats to bowl eligibility thanks to a favorable non-conference schedule and 9 returning offensive starters.

6Arkansas State (5-7, 3-5)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. South Alabama (October 29)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Texas State (November 19)

Bottom Line: This program absolutely nose-dived at the beginning of this decade, but I think they will rebound in Butch Jones’ second season with James Blackman in as the full-time quarterback this year. The Wolves will ultimately flirt with bowl eligibility but come up just short.

7UL-Monroe (1-11, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. UL-Lafayette (September 24)- upset of the year in the Sun Belt!

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Nicholls (September 10)

Bottom Line: The Warhawks showed some promise under Terry Bowden but their brutal schedule, recruiting struggles, and lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball will doom their fortunes in 2022.

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