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85 Days until Kansas Football: What If KU were in the Sun Belt?

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Our series continues in examining how well KU Football would fare in other conferences.

Troy v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Did you remember that Troy beat LSU in Baton Rouge last year? I’m guessing this isn’t going to be pretty.

Once again, we’ll use the F+ ratings available at FootballOutsiders.com. If you read up, it does appear that yes, the two components of F+ (S&P+ and FEI) both adjust for opponents and strength of schedule, so this should theoretically give us a pretty good idea of how well Kansas would fare outside of the Big 12.

The first time out, we took a look at the MAC. Today, we’ll visit the Sun Belt.

For 2018, the Sun Belt is a ten-team league divided into two five-team divisions. Hey guess what, the two winners will meet in a conference title game! However, we’ll do our best to ignore the divisions for this exercise.

Kansas in the SUN

School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
KANSAS 123 108 127 99 101
Appalachian St 27 38 42 104 n/a
Arkansas State 44 75 71 66 90
Coastal Carolina 104 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Georgia Southern 115 81 48 57 n/a
Georgia State 102 106 87 122 121
Louisiana-Laffayette 116 99 104 72 86
Louisiana-Monroe 99 126 121 97 109
South Alabama 106 89 102 89 68
Texas State 118 128 116 95 107
Troy 32 53 90 126 105

First of all, if nothing else, at least we’ll get a solid list of coaching candidates if Beaty fails to make a bowl game this year. Neal Brown got to Troy in 2015 - that is all.

Ok, so now let’s break down the table a little bit. (Note: F+ rankings in parentheses.)

Good news! It’s better than I thought! This conference is basically Troy, Appalachian St, Arkansas State, and everyone else. The MAC averaged five teams per year ranked over 100; the Sun Belt gives us five teams per year ranked over 90 with a fewer number of teams.

So then, by the numbers in 2017 Kansas (123) would have been the worst team in the Sun Belt. BUT, after the sure losses to Appalachian (27), Troy (32), and Ark St (44), every other game is basically a coin flip, because no other Sun Belt team ranked higher than 99.

But, I feel the need to once again point out how well KU handled a shorthanded Baylor (97) at home last year.

There are no head to head results that I can recall over the past five years to note.

If the Jayhawks had a couple of gimmes on the non-conference schedule, with even just a little bit of luck they could be the fourth-best team in the Sun Bet and be a regular in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in lovely Montgomery, AL, where they would no doubt lose to a MAC school.

Unfortunately, I feel like luck would not be on their side - you’re not going to win every 50/50 game. Even with two noncon gimmes and six (or seven) 50/50 conference games, that’s right at 5 or 6 wins. I would expect a floor of two wins, and a ceiling of 8.

I guess what I’m saying is - they would have a chance.