Georgia State was picked to finish fourth in the Sun Belt preseason football poll released by the conference Thursday. The poll was voted on by the league’s coaches.
The Panthers went 6-7 overall, 5-3 in the conference last season. They won their last four regular-season games to become bowl-eligible for the first time in program history. They were defeated by San Jose State in the Cure Bowl.
The fourth-place prediction is Georgia State’s highest since joining the Sun Belt. They were picked to finish ninth in 2015 and 10th in 2014.
Georgia State returns nine starters on defense and as many as seven on offense. The Panthers will open the season hosting Ball State on Sept. 2.
Appalachian State, which finished second last season (11-2, 7-1), was picked to win the league, followed by defending champs Arkansas State (9-4, 8-0) and Georgia Southern (9-4, 6-2).
Georgia State will play at the Mountaineers on Oct. 1 and will host the Eagles on Nov. 19.
The complete poll (with first-place votes in parentheses and total points):
1. Appalachian State (5) 114
2. Arkansas State (5) 110
3. Georgia Southern (1) 98
4. Georgia State 73
5. Troy 70
5. Louisiana-Lafayette 70
7. South Alabama 62
8. Idaho 48
9. New Mexico St. 37
10. Texas State 30
11. Louisiana-Monroe 14