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Nathan Deen is a sports writer for Savannah Morning News covering Georgia Southern athletics. His blog, Eagle Extra, will include news and analysis on Georgia Southern athletics.

 
Posted August 25, 2017 05:21 pm

Sun Belt teams have chance to make Week 1 statement

The Sun Belt Conference has a chance to make a statement in the opening week of the college football season.

Generally perceived to be at the bottom of the ladder in the Group of 5 leagues, the Sun Belt faces four Power 5 opponents and a prestigious Group of 5 foe in Week 1.

While Georgia Southern opens at No. 12 Auburn at 6:30 p.m., Appalachian State will play between the hedges at No. 15 Georgia at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN. South Alabama will look to upset Ole Miss at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU, Arkansas State will travel to Nebraska for an 8 p.m. showdown on Big Ten Network, and Troy heads to Boise State for a possible shootout, a 3:45 p.m. game on ESPNU.

Those five teams have been in the upper half of the conference the last several seasons. Here are the odds they’re facing in their Week 1 tests:

Troy at Boise State (-11.5)

Appalachian State at No. 15 Georgia (-14.0)

Georgia Southern at No. 12 Auburn (-34.5)

South Alabama at Ole Miss (-24.0)

Arkansas State at Nebraska (-16.5)

Troy nearly won the Sun Belt last season before dropping its regular-season finale to Georgia Southern, allowing Arkansas State and Appalachian State to share the league title. The Mountaineers are the conference favorites entering this season. Georgia Southern has a track record of frustrating SEC opponents, upsetting Florida in 2013 and taking Georgia to overtime in 2015. The Eagles had a 21-3 lead over Ole Miss in the second quarter last season.

South Alabama pulled the upset of the season for the Sun Belt in 2016, stunning Mississippi State 21-20 in the season opener. Ole Miss is in shambles after former head coach Hugh Freeze resigned in July amid allegations that he made calls to an escort service.