Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game
Sun Belt Conference Football Championship.jpg
SportFootball
ConferenceSun Belt
Played2018–present
Last contest2021
Current championLouisiana
Most championshipsAppalachian State (2)
TV partner(s)ESPN
Official websiteOfficial site
Host stadiums
Kidd Brewer Stadium, Cajun Field

The Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game is an annual college football game that determines the Sun Belt Conference's season champion. The game is played between the Sun Belt's regular season divisional champions from the East and West divisions. First contested in 2018, the game is typically played on the first Saturday of December. The current champion is the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.

History

Blue pog.svg
– East Division
Red pog.svg
– West Division

In 1987, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) approved a proposal made by two Division II conferences that allowed any conference with 12 football members to split into divisions and stage a championship game between the divisional winners, with that game not counting against NCAA limits on regular-season contests. However, the rule would not see its first use until 1992, when the Southeastern Conference, which had added Arkansas and South Carolina the previous year, launched its title game. In early 2016, NCAA legislation was passed that largely deregulated FBS conference championship games, allowing a conference with fewer than 12 teams to stage a championship game that featured either (1) the top two teams at the end of a full round-robin conference schedule, or (2) the winners of each of two divisions, with each team playing a full round-robin schedule within its division.[1] Several months later, the Sun Belt Conference announced that they would be introducing a football championship game starting in the 2018 season.[2]

In 2017, the conference announced the two divisions that teams would compete in, with division winners qualifying for the championship game.[3][4][5] As the conference would have 10 teams competing in football in the 2018 season, East and West divisions were created with five teams each, with the championship game to be played at the home stadium of the team with the best College Football Playoff ranking. If no teams are ranked in the CFP selection committee, the conference will determine home field using a formula based on six computer ratings that were used in the old Bowl Championship Series standings. Unlike the conference's sports of baseball and volleyball, which are also divided into divisions, the Jaguars of South Alabama compete in the West division rather than the East.

In 2018, Appalachian State qualified as the East division team, as they had defeated Troy head-to-head, with both teams finishing the regular season with 7–1 conference records.[6] Louisiana qualified as the West division team, as they had defeated Arkansas State head-to-head, with both teams finishing the regular season with 5–3 conference records.[6] In the inaugural championship game, Appalachian State defeated Louisiana, 30–19. The 2019 game was a rematch of the same teams, and again saw Appalachian State defeat Louisiana, this time by a score of 45–38.

The 2020 championship game, set to feature Coastal Carolina and Louisiana,[7] was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic effects within the Coastal Carolina program.[8] As a result, the teams were declared co-champions for the 2020 season.[9]

The 2021 game saw Louisiana and Appalachian State in the title game for the third time; however, unlike their prior two championship meetings at Kidd Brewer Stadium, Louisiana won over Appalachian State 24–16 at Cajun Field for their first outright Sun Belt Conference title.[10]


Results by year

Below are the results from all Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Games played. The winning team appears in bold font, on a background of their primary team color. Rankings are from the College Football Playoff committee ranking released prior to the game.

Date West Division East Division Site Attendance
December 1, 2018 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 19 Appalachian State Mountaineers 30 Kidd Brewer StadiumBoone, North Carolina 14,693
December 7, 2019 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 38 21 Appalachian State Mountaineers 45 18,618
Canceled 19 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 12 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Brooks StadiumConway, South Carolina
December 4, 2021 24 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 24 Appalachian State Mountaineers 16 Cajun FieldLafayette, Louisiana 31,014

† 2020 game canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Results by team

Selections School Wins Losses Win % Year(s) won Year(s) lost No contest
4 Louisiana 1 2 .333 2021 2018, 2019 2020
3 Appalachian State 2 1 .667 2018, 2019 2021  
1 Coastal Carolina 0 0     2020

See also

References

  1. ^ Dan Wolken (January 13, 2016). "NCAA members OK football championship games for all conferences". USA Today. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  2. ^ Creg Stephenson (June 7, 2016). "Sun Belt Conference will add football championship game in 2018". AL.com. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  3. ^ AP (May 23, 2017). "Sun Belt announces divisions starting in 2018 football season". ESPN. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Tom Fornelli (May 23, 2017). "Sun Belt announces football divisions for 2018, new collaborative replay system". CBS Sports. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  5. ^ Creg Stephenson (May 23, 2017). "Sun Belt football will split into divisions with addition of championship game in 2018". AL.com. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Appalachian State to Host Sun Belt Championship Against Louisiana". sunbeltsports.org. November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  7. ^ McVey, Rob (December 17, 2020). "Coastal Carolina and Louisiana meet for the second time on Saturday in the highly anticipated Sun Belt title game". athlonsports.com. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  8. ^ "Sun Belt championship game canceled due to COVID issues". AL.com. December 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Coastal Carolina, Louisiana named co-champions after Sun Belt championship canceled". WBRC.com. December 18, 2020.
  10. ^ "Louisiana Wins First Outright Conference Championship in Front of a Championship Game Record 31,014 at Cajun Field". Sun Belt Conference. Retrieved December 4, 2021.