Sun Belt West college football offseason preview

Quarterback Levi Lewis is among 21 starters returning to Louisiana for the 2021 season. Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Before 2018, no Sun Belt team had ever finished in the SP+ top 35, but we've seen six do so in just the past three seasons. Appalachian State leads the way, having done so for three straight years, but Billy Napier's Louisiana has done so twice in a row and now leads the country in returning production.

We're going to learn a lot about what experience can do for a team and its upside this year. The Ragin' Cajuns have a chance to become the best SBC team of all time this fall if all this continuity produces another gear.

We're also going to learn if anyone in the West division can even come close to threatening the three-time defending division champs. Signs point to no.

Every week through the summer, Bill Connelly will preview another division from the Group of 5 and Power 5 exclusively for ESPN+, ultimately including all 130 FBS teams. The previews will include 2020 breakdowns, 2021 previews and a brief history of each team in one handy chart. The series has thus far covered the Conference USA East and West, the MAC East and West, and the MWC Mountain and West.

Jump to a team: UL Monroe | South Alabama | Texas State | Arkansas State | Louisiana

UL Monroe Warhawks

Matt Viator nearly brought ULM to a bowl in both 2018 and 2019, but an 0-10 collapse in 2020 did him in after five seasons. Now it's Terry Bowden time.