- Sun Belt championship odds are currently available at BetMGM.
- James Madison is ineligible to win the Sun Belt in 2023.
We can’t let the SEC have all the fun.
College football odds are available 24/7 at the BetMGM online sportsbook, and many bettors head there with specific P5 targets in mind.
Personally, I like to carve out a little time every season to spend with one of my favorite conferences at any level of college football: the Sun Belt.
Following the four new additions from 2022, the Sun Belt has evolved from a conference on the rise to the true model for fun, competent G5 football. Its two divisions make geographic sense and are deeply competitive.
In the East, old-guard FCS powerhouses like James Madison, Marshall, and Appalachian State compete in a division with true 1-through-7 depth.
The West gets knocked as a weaker division because it’s not as deep, but fans of Sun Belt West teams are happy to remind everyone on the East Coast that an Eastern team hasn’t won the Sun Belt championship since 2019.
Sun Belt Championship Odds
James Madison Football Eligibility
James Madison “won” the East in 2022 with the best record after demolishing Coastal Carolina in its regular-season finale, 47-7. However, the Sun Belt’s official position is that division winners only exist in the context of setting up a championship game, so James Madison won’t actually be eligible to formally win the East until 2024.
This season, JMU is the last remaining undefeated team in the Sun Belt and has dealt early losses to the top two preseason favorites, Troy and South Alabama. But JMU does not appear in the championship odds for the same reason. As of this writing, JMU will only be eligible for a bowl game this season if they reach six wins and there are not enough other eligible teams to fill all the bowl slots.
Sun Belt Football Sleepers: Watch Out for App State
Right before this season started, I had college football magazine extraordinaire Phil Steele on my handicapping podcast, The Lion’s Edge, and he was bullish on App State’s prospects this year as a possible contender in the Sun Belt East.
“Expectations are pretty low for App State this year,” Steele said. “But when I talked to Coach [Shawn] Clark, he said, ‘You know what? I’m happy I’m the coach of this team because I know we’re going to get this thing corrected.’”
App State was only 6-6 last year, but they do bring seven starters back on offense this year. Steele believes the offense will get back to a more run-focused identity this year, which will serve the Mountaineers well.
“The last two years, they’ve gone with Chase Brice [at quarterback] and tried to throw the ball a bit more,” Steele said. “Now, they’re going back to their wheelhouse. Their quarterbacks are Ryan Burger, Joey Aguilar, Mason McHugh – these are running quarterbacks. Remember: App State, at its best, ran the football with the quarterback. That’s what they’re going to do. They’ve got [running back] Nate Noel back, too.”
The schedule is also cause for optimism.
“The only games I have them as an underdog are at North Carolina, at Wyoming, and at James Madison,” Steele said. “This is a team that didn’t even make a bowl last year. But I think they’re maybe even capable of getting to double-digit wins this year.”
I’m coming around late on App State as a win total bet. Currently 7 at @BetMGM, +105 to the over.
Gardner-Webb & ECU as non-con home games. Road SBC games against #JMU, where they’ll be a dog, but also at GaSt, at ODU, at ULM. USM at home from West.
There are 7-8 wins here.
— Chase Kiddy (@chaseakiddy) August 28, 2023
Steele has App State at No. 3 in his magazine’s Most Improved list for 2023, right behind No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 1 Texas A&M. By the end of September, App State had risen to No. 2 in the table.
The list also includes Georgia Southern (+900) and Louisiana (+1600).
College Football Podcast: Want More CFB, Odds Analysis?
If you like this sort of content, or you want to hear the rest of my conversation with Phil Steele, then I’d recommend checking out my podcast, The Lion’s Edge.
Every week, I highlight odds and bets that I think are interesting or ripe for advantage bettors like me. I also bring on expert guests from both inside and outside of the sportsbook so that you can learn a little bit more about key topics in online sports betting.
Check it out and subscribe on the podcast player of your choice. You can also listen to the most recent episodes in the podcast player below.
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