Sun Belt Picks AState Second

Perhaps the good news for the Arkansas State Red Wolves is they were not predicted to win the Sun Belt Conference.

The league released a poll of the league coaches on Saturday, and once again, the Red Wolves, who have won the last three league titles, were not the chosen favorite.

That honor goes to Louisiana-Lafayette, with recorded 121 points and all 11 first-place votes. The Red Wolves were second at 102, just ahead of South Alabama (98.)

Last season ULL, which did share the title with the Red Wolves, and ULM shared the top spot in the poll. Arkansas State was predicted third. In 2012, Florida International was the pick with the Red Wolves second and in 2011 A-State was fifth behind FIU, Troy, Middle Tennessee and ULM.

After the top three, the remainder of the poll shakes down as Troy (84), Louisiana-Monroe (78), Texas State (70), Appalachian State (47), Georgia Southern (44), Idaho (29), Georgia State (27) and New Mexico State (26).

The conference schedule calls for eight league games. The Red Wolves will travel to ULL, Texas State, Georgia State and Idaho and have homes games with ULM, Appalachian State, South Alabama and New Mexico State.

ULL will play A-State, South Alabama, Appalachian and Georgia State at home and has road trips to Texas State, New Mexico State, ULM and Troy.

The Red Wolves have 10 starters back from last season, seven of them All-Sun Belt Conference selections.

The Red Wolves have six players on a preseason award watch list this year, including junior running back Michael Gordon (Doak Walker), junior tight end Darion Griswold (John Mackey), junior cornerback Rocky Hayes (Jim Thorpe), senior linebacker Qushaun Lee (Lombardi, Walter Camp), junior wide receiver J.D. McKissic (Paul Hornung) and senior safety Sterling Young (Jim Thorpe).

The past three seasons, Arkansas State has won 28 games and gone to three straight bowl games, winning the GoDaddy in 2013 and 2014. That total ranks 20th in the NCAA’s FBS.

ULL, which has won 3 straight New Orleans Bowl games, returns 16 starters and two specialists from a 9-4 team that won in Jonesboro last year.

The Arkansas State at ULL game set for Oct. 21 will be televised by ESPN2.