Aug 31, 2013; Jonesboro, AR, USA; Sun Belt conference new logo appears on the field during the game between the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the UAPB Golden Lions at ASU Stadium. Arkansas State defeated uAPB 62-11. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Sun Belt Conference Football Preview

The Sun Belt Conference has been in flux this year as the fallout from conference expansion affected its membership. As a result the Sun Belt has a bunch of new teams in the league this year and could be wildly unpredictable. Georgia State, Georgia Southern, and Appalachian State join from the FCS level. Texas State, New Mexico State, and Idaho are refugees from the departed Western Athletic Conference. So half of the eleven team league is new this year. Texas State joined last year.

Sep 7, 2013; Laramie, WY, USA; Idaho Vandals head coach Paul Petrino reacts during the first quarter against the Wyoming Cowboys at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Still the Sun Belt core of Troy, Arkansas State, and the two Louisiana schools is there and they are primed to take advantage of the newcomers.

Idaho is looking for redemption after a tough season last year. However their coach’s last name is Petrino, so their offense should look to pick up.

Arkansas State had to hire yet another new coach. They have sent Hugh Freeze to Ol Miss, Gus Malzahn to Auburn, and Bryan Harsin to Boise State in the last three off-seasons. They responded by hiring North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson. Stay tuned on where he will be coaching next season.

Who Holds the Belt: University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns

The Ragin Cajuns finished tied with the Arkansas State for the conference title last year, but had the superior non-conference record so they fit in this spot. The Ragin Cajuns have a three game winning streak in the New Orleans Bowl and were picked again as conference champion this year.

One of their alumni is former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.

Dec 21, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns players celebrate with the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl trophy after they defeated the Tulane Green Wave, 24-21, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Predicted Finish (Conference records only):

1. Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns (8-0)

2. Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-1)

3. Louisiana-Monroe WarHawks (6-2)

4. South Alabama Jaguars (5-3)

5. Troy Trojans (5-3)

6. Texas State Bobcats (4-4)

7. Georgia Southern Eagles (4-4)

8. Appalachian State Mountaineers (3-5)

9. Idaho Vandals (1-7)

10. Georgia State Panthers (1-7)

11. New Mexico State Aggies (0-8)

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Tags: Appalachian State Mountaineers Sun Belt Football

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