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The Sun Belt is peaking, and the numbers back it up

Mountaineers Ranked 24 in CFP Rankings
Posted: 5:52 PM, Nov 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-14 18:57:44-05
Billy Napier Louisiana.jpg

LAFAYETTE — In the history of the College Football Playoff Rankings, no more than three Group of 5 schools have been ranked in the top 25 at the end of the year.

In the history of the College Football Playoff Rankings, no more than two Group of Five conferences have had ranked teams at the end of the year.

In the history of the College Football Playoff Rankings, the Sun Belt has never been ranked.

History is being rewritten in 2019. You can call it the year of the Group of 5 if you'd like. As we sit in week 12, five groups of five teams are ranked, including one from the Sun Belt. Five more G5 schools are receiving votes in the Coaches Poll.

But back to Appalachian State. The Mountaineers are a chin-scratching, loss at home from perhaps being in the Group of 5 driver's seat (The top G5 team earns an New Year's Six bowl bid). With wins over two Power 5 schools, North Carolina and South Carolina, Appalachian State is ranked 24th in the Coaches Poll, 25th in the CFP Rankings. Their success is an example of the progress made in the Sun Belt.

"I think our league is getting more recognition and it's well deserved," said Cajuns' head coach Billy Napier. "The quality of the play, the caliber of player the caliber of coach. You're seeing more winning football, whether it's crossover game with other G5 or power 5 match-ups."

While some would perceive it as a down year in the conference, with traditional powers Troy and Arkansas State stuck around .500, the conference has won more non-conference regular season games (22) this season than in any of the previous five seasons. Maybe longer. It marks back-to-back seasons with winning records in those games. In the previous four seasons, the Sun Belt has zero winning records in non-conference regular season games.

Need more? The Sun Belt has won four games against P5 schools, Coastal Carolina beat Kansas, Georgia State topped Tennessee to go along with Appalachian State's two wins.