Appalachian State, which has earned a share of the Sun Belt Conference football championship in each of the past two seasons, has been picked to be in the mix for the title again this season.
The Mountaineers are the preseason choice to win the league’s East Division in a poll of Sun Belt coaches and selected media members released Thursday. Coach Scott Satterfield’s team received six out of 10 first place votes to narrowly edge out Troy for the top spot.
Arkansas State was picked to win the West Division. The Red Wolves were also the choice to beat App State in the conference’s first ever championship game, scheduled for Dec. 1 at the site of the divisional winner with the best record.
The Mountaineers were 9-4 overall and 7-1 in the Sun Belt in 2017, finishing off the year with a 34-0 rout of Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl. It was their third straight bowl victory in as many season of FBS membership.
This year’s team returns 11 starters, six on offense and five on defense, including senior running back Jalin Moore and junior defensive back Clifton Duck.
Moore was part of a rushing attack that led the Sun Belt (223.6) and was second in touchdowns on the ground (27). Duck helped lead App State intercept 18 passes while allowing a league-low 205.1 yards through the air. Its defense was also second in scoring, giving up only 20.2 points per game a year ago.
The Mountaineers open their season on Saturday, Sept. 1 against nationally ranked Penn State.
2018 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)
- Appalachian St. (6) – 46 pts
- Troy (4) – 44 pts
- Georgia State – 26 pts
- Georgia Southern – 22 pts
- Coastal Carolina – 12 pts
- Arkansas State (9) – 49 pts
- ULM – 37 pts
- South Alabama (1) – 26 pts
- Louisiana – 25 pts
- Texas State – 13 pts
2018 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Championship Game Winner