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Thread: 2017 College Football Discussion Thread

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    Senior Member Sea Slug's Avatar
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    Default 2017 College Football Discussion Thread

    Not unlike last year I will be giving a conference by conference preview. I'm starting a little earlier so I should be able to go a little deeper into specific teams.

    I correctly picked the top and the bottom of the Sun Belt, but was less than perfect in between (though a major factor in that is that I do not pick ties in my records, even though 11 [now 12] teams playing 8 conference games will certainly have them in their records). The top 3 will be in the fight for #1, but there is a big drop off after that. In case anybody is wondering why The Sun Belt Conference uses this format, the reason appears to be that two teams will leave after this year and there is no point in breaking down into divisions and changing back next year. My descriptions will be in alphabetical order by their informal name.

    If college football worked this way, Appalachian State would be promoted up to a new conference after this season. They return 14 starters from a team that was the conference co-champion (I do not like using that word, but found it unavoidable because they did not play the team they tied) last year. They also have a favorable conference schedule having avoided Arkansas St (again) and Troy this year while getting Georgia Southern and Louisiana at home. If they can get an upset against Georgia in their opening game, this team has a chance of going undefeated and just might be playing on New Year's Day.

    Arkansas St's greatest strength is their defense. More specifically their front 7 will turn any conference opponent, and perhaps a non-conference foes, into a one dimensional offense. The O-Line will have a lot of growing pains through their first four games (@Nebraska, Miami, APB, and @ SMU) as they return 0 starters from last year. Their special teams have been up and down lately and if it's up they are a threat to beat anybody in the conference, which could make their game against Troy at the end of the year very important.

    The Sun Belt and the FBS welcome Coastal Carolina this year. They return only 10 starters including the punter as they step up from FCS, but their 2 losses last year were by a combined 2 points, so expect this team to go down swinging and maybe take a few upsets.

    Last year Georgia Southern tried to change to a spread offense and suffered for it. This year they return 5 offensive starters, so it may be as clean a slate as the coaching staff can get as they try to goback to the flexbone, with last year's starting QB, top RB, and top WR gone. The schedule doesn't do them any favors as they draw Arkansas St, Appalachian St, and Troy, the latter two away from home. Their special teams can keep a game winnable under the right conditions.

    Georgia St is bringing back 15 starters, but not their coach from a 3-9 team. It could be argued that this team underperfomed last year after a few injuries to key offensive players. If Shawn Elliot brings the intensity I expect, his team can score early and has a defensive backfield that can secure a win at the end of a game, even if his quarterback is a bit suspect.

    Paul Patrino has 15 wins in his 4 years coaching at Idaho; 9 of them were earned last year. Although only 10 starters return, they include the QB, who is on pace to set school records, a TE, and 3 of 4 LBs. 4 of their 9 wins were by 7 or fewer points, so they may not quite reach the same total. Also, the +11 net turnovers also indicate this team may come back down to earth. Motivation won't be a question as this is the last year that Idaho will play FBS football.

    Of Louisiana's 7 road games, 6 of them are against teams that went to bowls and the 7th is against Ole Miss (ineligible). They return some of the best linemen in the conference on both sides of the ball and a decent receiving corps. If Jordan Davis can get it together at QB, his defense may be able to get this team to the New Orleans Bowl for the 6th consecutive year (lost it last year and won the previous 4).

    This year's New Mexico St team may be the most talented that Doug Martin has coached. The good news is that 9 starters return on defense, but the bad news is that the defense gave up 38.8 points per game (121 of a field of 129). Despite not getting the new guys of the conference, the schedule is manageable. I wouldn't be shocked to see this team fighting for bowl eligibility at the end of the season, but I would be a little surprised.

    South Alabama is a difficult team to figure out, which may prove beneficial at the beginning of the season. Last year the defense didn't give up a lot of yards through the air (top 10 in the country), but did give up a lot on the ground (100th in the country). 8 of their 12 games were decided by 7 point or fewer.

    Texas St's greatest strength by far is their LB corps with 3 of 4 members returning. They were -14 in net TOs last year, but only two of their games were even close (1 win, 1 loss). Last year's edition was below 100 in offense (yards and scoring) and defense (yards and scoring), so there is a lot of room for improvement.

    Troy brings back 14 starters (8 on offense including the arguable best QB and WR in the conference) from a 10 win team. Although they avoid Appalachian St, the schedule is not their friend. They get Idaho on a short week and have to travel to Arkansas St.

    ULM is under a second year coach and had net -11 turnovers last year. They return 15 starters and have a decent line on each side of the ball. All of this suggests that they should have a better record than the 4 wins they accomplished last year.

    Sun Belt Prediction
    1. Appalachian St
    2. Arkansas St
    3. Troy
    4. Louisiana
    5. Idaho
    6. South Alabama
    7. Georgia Southern
    8. New Mexico St
    9. Georgia St
    10. ULM
    11. Coastal Carolina
    12. Texas St

    Conference Games of Note
    Oct 7 Idaho @ Louisiana
    Oct 14 Georgia St @ ULM
    Oct 14 New Mexico St @ Georgia Southern
    Oct 28 Texas St @ Coastal Carolina
    Nov 4 Louisiana @ South Alabama
    Nov 25 Idaho @ New Mexico St
    Nov 25 Georgia Southern @ Louisiana
    Dec 2 Troy @ Arkansas St

    Nonconference Games of Note
    Sept 2 Appalachian St @ Georgia
    Sept 2 Troy @ Boise St
    Sept 16 Idaho @ Western Michigan
    Sept 23 Arkansas St @ SMU
    Sept 23 Wake Forrest @ Appalachian St

    Likely Playoff Contenders
    Last edited by Sea Slug; 07-18-2017 at 08:04 PM.
    If all of mankind minus one were of of one opinion, and only one person of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
    -John Stuart Mill

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