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Sun Belt Football is the New Powerhouse ‘Group-of-Five’ Conference

It’s officially Week 3 of the 2022 college football season and boy, oh boy has it been a wild season already. Shakeups, dropdowns, and drama have filled the AP’s top-25 polls for the last two weeks. Confusingly, Georgia just moved up to the number one slot, over the Crimson Tide, whom they beat last year for the championship title. This move has fans everywhere scratching their heads as to why they weren’t ranked number one overall already. Amongst this chaos from the AP poll voting, one conference systematically knocked the traditional “Power Five” schools out of alignment. Of course, we are talking about Sun Belt football.

Camerun Peoples appalachian state sun belt football
Credit: Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal

Sun Belt Football is the New Powerhouse “Group-of-Five” Conference

Your honor, motion to rename the Sun Belt conference to the “Fun-belt” conference. In Week 2 alone, three of their schools beat teams from the SEC, ACC and the Big Ten. The three largest conferences got toppled by the new titans of the Sun Belt.

First, Georgia Southern tranced the Nebraska Cornhuskers for 45 points and earned their victory. Then, the Appalachian State Mountaineers stunned the sixth-ranked Aggies, at Kyle Field. Last, but certainly not least, the newest addition to Sun Belt football, Marshall University, shocked the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish on their own home turf.

Below, we will break down the major upsets and what it means for the college football landscape.

App State vs #6 Texas A&M, 17-14

App State has always been known as the “little school that could.” Ever since they beat Michigan in 2007, they have been the poster child for upsets. However, going largely unnoticed, they have been ranked three times in the AP polls during the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. As of 2021, the Mountaineers are the only FBS team to play in a bowl game, each year they have been eligible. Additionally, they have gone for a record of 6-1 in bowl games. Ever since moving to the FBS in 2014, the Mountaineers have taken control of their destiny and conquered their way to the top of the Sun Belt.

Marshall vs #8 Notre Dame, 26-21

Rumor has it that a new sequel for We Are Marshall is in the works by the stunning work of the 2022 Thundering Heard. The newest addition to the Sun Belt, the Thundering Heard overcame the distance, traveling to Indiana to shock the Fighting Irish in South Bend. Some have said it’s a new era for Norte Dame. However, it’s also a new era for Sun Belt football as well. Marshall left C-USA with two other schools, Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi, to the newly empowered “Fun-Belt.”

Georgia Southern vs Nebraska, 45-42

This loss for the Cornhuskers was so embarrassing. It was the final straw for former head coach, Scott Frost. Shortly after the loss, Nebraska fired the embattled head coach after multiple losing seasons. But, as the Cornhuskers hope to set a standard of excellence for their new regime, the Georgia Southern Eagles are also proving their excellence in their emerging conference.

Sun Belt Football is Resetting the Boundaries

In conclusion, the Sun Belt football conference got paid over $1.5 million to upset their bigger conference foes. In fact, the Sun Belt has 11 non-conference road wins versus Power 5 teams — the most of all FBS conferences. It’s about time we start respecting the results of the Sun Belt, as their collective body of work has proven that they are reshaping the rankings with their Group-of-Five peers.

With two teams upsetting top-10-ranked schools, there is no further evidence that the college landscape has shifted. The Sun Belt has set up its perch at the top of the Group-of-Five, outperforming: the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West Conference.


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