Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sun Belt Finalizes Football Bowl Lineup for 2020-26

NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference has solidified its football postseason opportunities for the next six seasons with five bowl tie-ins beginning with the 2020 season.

The conference's new postseason lineup includes placement in three ESPN Events owned-and-operated bowl games and participation in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the LendingTree Bowl on an annual basis. 

"We are coming off of our most successful season in Sun Belt history," said Sun Belt Commissioner Keith Gill. "We're excited to provide a flex model that allows for our fans and schools to go to desirable locations with exciting opponents that are easily accessible and provides more revenue than the previous bowl cycle."

ESPN Events will hold the first, third and fourth selections and will utilize a flex model to select teams into the following pool of games:

• Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, FL)
• Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL)
• Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL)
• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID)
• SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas, TX)
• Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX)
• Myrtle Beach Bowl (Myrtle Beach, SC)
• New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM)

The New Orleans Bowl will hold the second selection and the LendingTree Bowl will hold the fifth selection.

In addition to the league's five bowl tie-ins, the Sun Belt champion has access annually to the New Year's Six bowls, managed by the College Football Playoff, should the champion be selected as one of the top four teams overall by the CFP selection committee or ranked by the committee as the top champion among the Group of Five conference champions. The Sun Belt champion is determined by a matchup of the East Division and West Division champions squaring off at the home site of the divisional champion with the best overall conference winning percentage.

The Sun Belt enters the 2020 season with the best bowl winning percentage (.667, 14-7) among all 10 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision conferences over the last four seasons (2016-19). Last season, the league finished with a .600 bowl winning percentage, earning three wins in its five postseason matchups, to finish second to the Southeastern Conference (8-2, .800) and first among the Group of Five conferences.

With 25 non-conference wins (regular season and postseason) in 2019, the Sun Belt reset its all-time high set just a season prior. The conference recorded four wins against Autonomy Five conference opponents – Georgia State defeated Tennessee, Coastal Carolina defeated Kansas and Appalachian State defeated South Carolina and North Carolina – in the same season for the first time in conference history, including firsts for Georgia State and Coastal Carolina. Appalachian State became the first in conference history to achieve two wins against Autonomy Five schools in the same season.

Sun Belt champion Appalachian State headlined a historic 2019 season with the conference's first in-season CFP Ranking and capped its season ranked in the final CFP Rankings (20th) and the final Top 25 of both national polls – 19th in the final Associated Press Top 25 and 18th in the final Amway Coaches powered by USA Today Sports Top 25. West Division champion Louisiana was among the teams receiving votes in both final Top 25 polls, putting a stamp on its milestone season. The Ragin' Cajuns recorded a school-record 11 wins, a second-straight Sun Belt West Division title and their first bowl win outside of the state of Louisiana since 1944.