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6 down, 6 to go: Mid-season Sun Belt East Division breakdown

Junior+running+back+Maquel+Haywood+breaks+loose+for+a+run+against+Coastal+Carolina+Oct.+10.
Sam Fleming
Junior running back Maquel Haywood breaks loose for a run against Coastal Carolina Oct. 10.

With seven weeks of college football complete, the Sun Belt East Division standings have begun to take shape. While one team remains in the championship game driving seat, their ineligibility opens the window for the rest of the division. 

James Madison 6-0 (3-0)

The undefeated Dukes are the class of the Sun Belt and are on the cusp of being ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. JMU joined the Sun Belt in 2022, which jumped the Dukes from the FCS to the FBS. While the quick success is promising for JMU, they remain ineligible for the Sun Belt Championship and FBS Bowl Games due to the NCAA’s two-year transition period for a former FCS school. The Dukes host the Mountaineers Nov. 18, after JMU’s 28-3 comeback victory last season to beat App State 32-28.

Georgia State 5-1 (2-1)

The Panthers balanced offensive attack has led them to an impressive 5-1 record to start the season. Ranking 60th in rushing yards per game and 98th in passing yards per game, Georgia State has scored at least 30 points in their wins. With their lone loss coming against a dominant victory from Troy, the Panthers control their destiny in the east division. Georgia State hosts App State Nov. 11. The Mountaineers are historically 9-0 against the Panthers. 

Old Dominion 3-3 (2-1)

The Monarchs joined the Sun Belt in 2022, but didn’t see immediate success with a 3-9 record last season. ODU has succeeded early this season in matching their total wins from 2022 after six games. This Monarch team revolves around their defense, as their offense has failed to score over 20 points three times. ODU will be coming off their bye week before playing the Mountaineers Saturday. App State is historically 3-0 against the Monarchs, with the most recent in 2022 as the Black and Gold won 27-14 in Boone.

Georgia Southern 4-2 (1-1)

With their only losses against James Madison and Wisconsin, the Eagles have predicated  their team around the passing game. Ranking 12th with 331.5 passing yards per game, Georgia Southern has a strong passing attack. In their four victories, the Eagles scored at least 34 points in each of those games. After last year’s 51-48 overtime thriller, Georgia Southern will return to Boone Nov. 25 for App State’s senior day and former quarterback Armanti Edwards’ jersey retirement.  

Marshall 4-2 (1-1)

After a 4-0 start to the season, the Thundering Herd dropped back-to-back games against NC State and Georgia State. Marshall joined the Sun Belt in 2022 and finished the season with a strong 9-4 record, ending the season on a five-game win streak. To begin the 2023 season, the Thundering Herd led the Sun Belt in pass defense, allowing only 178.5 passing yards per game. Marshall will be welcomed back to Boone Nov. 4 in a historic rivalry spanning from 1985-96 as the Thundering Herd won last year’s contest 28-21.

Coastal Carolina 3-3 (1-2)

Led by Preseason Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Grayson McCall, the Chanticleers have started the season up and down. With their Oct. 10 27-24 victory over the Mountaineers, Coastal Carolina will look to get back on track after winning the east division in 2022. McCall’s career-high game against App State earned him Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week. If the Chanticleers want to defend their east division title, they’ll need to run the table after starting conference play 1-2. 

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About the Contributors
Chance Chamberlain
Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor
Chance Chamberlain (he/him) is a senior journalism major, media studies minor. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Sam Fleming
Sam Fleming, Photographer
Sam Fleming (he/him) is a freshman Computer Science Major, from Greensboro, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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