The Appalachian State Mountaineers are the favorites to win the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Football Championship according to the league’s 12 head coaches. The Sun Belt released the preseason poll Thursday in advance of the Sun Belt’s annual media day that begins Sunday, July 23.
The Mountaineers received seven of 12 first-place votes and tallied 136 points from the coaches. The Mountaineers claimed a share of the league title a season ago with a 7-1 record in conference play and an 10-3 record overall. Troy was picked to finish second and received two first-place votes as the Trojans tallied 127 points.
Appalachian State won its second-consecutive bowl game, the 2016 Raycom Camellia Bowl, 31-28, over Toledo. The Mountaineers will return 47 lettermen, which includes 13 of 22 starters on offense and defense.
The Trojans finished 2016 with a 10-3 overall record and a 6-2 league mark. Troy represented the Sun Belt in the Dollar General Bowl last season and won 28-23 over Ohio. It was the first bowl game for the Trojans since 2010. Troy returns 54 lettermen from a season ago and 17 starters from the 2016 squad, including 10 on offense.
Arkansas State was chosen third by the coaches with 122 points and one first-place vote and was followed by South Alabama in fourth with 98 points. A-State reeled off seven consecutive wins last season to finish with an 8-5 record and a win in the AutoNation Cure Bowl over UCF, 31-13. USA played in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
Louisiana tallied 95 points with a first-place vote and was picked to finish fifth while Idaho tallied 84 points and was picked to finish sixth. The top six teams in this year’s preseason poll all participated in bowl games last season, which was a new record for the Sun Belt, as the league tied the ACC for the second-best winning percentage amongst all conferences (0.667, 4-2).