The PiRate Ratings kick off its 2016 college football coverage today with the first of 11 previews. We will preview conferences in order of lowest overall average rating to highest, so as we have every year since this league’s inception, we begin with the Sun Belt Conference today.
Last year, Arkansas State ventured to Appalachian State to decide the conference championship in early November. Both teams were undefeated in conference play at the time, and Appy State was a 10-point home favorite. The Mountaineers led 21-14 just before the half, but the Red Wolves scored 26 straight points and won 40-27 and ran the table to finish 8-0 in the league.
This year, the same two teams, plus third place Georgia Southern will contend for the 2016 SBC crown. The PiRates believe four additional teams will compete for bowl eligibility, with three becoming successful, and four teams will try to stay out of the basement and go winless in the league, and possibly winless overall.
With the more favorable FBS vs. FCS schedules this year, it is our opinion that considerably more than the needed teams will be bowl eligible, so this league is likely to see at least one team end the season bowl eligible and not receive a bowl invitation.
Here is how the Sun Belt Media predicted the order of finish in the pre-season media roundup.
|2016 Sun Belt Conference Media Poll|
|9||New Mexico St.||0||37|
The Beginning PiRate Numbers differ very little from the official poll.
|New Mexico St.||73.7||76.5||74.9||75.0|
|Sun Belt Averages||80.5||85.1||82.1||82.6|
The PiRate Ratings are best used just to look forward to the next week game schedule. These ratings cannot really be used to predict won-loss records, so with that caveat, here are the projected won-loss records based on the ratings above.
|Sun Belt Conference Projected Standings|
|Arkansas St.||8-0||9-3||New Orleans|
|New Mexico St.||1-7||1-11|
* This is an at-large bowl bid
Next Preview: Tuesday, August 16–Conference USA