The Sun Belt on Tuesday announced its 2018 schedule, leaving the Mountain West as the only FBS league yet to reveal its slate. The 2018 season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, with Georgia State hosting Kennesaw State. The first conference game goes down Sept. 15 when Texas State visits South Alabama.
Tuesday’s announcement was significant for more than just the revelation of dates of games. It brings to a close the conference’s realignment moves that saw Idaho and New Mexico State get the boot and the league join the rest of its peers in adding a championship game. The inaugural Sun Belt Championship will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, at a campus site and be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
The Sun Belt’s roster now consists of 10 teams, but unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will split into two divisions:
Appalachian State and Arkansas State have been the kings of the Sun Belt over the past three seasons, each going 21-3 from 2015-17. The Mountaineers and Red Wolves did not play in 2016 or ’17, but will square off in 2018. The two will square off on Oct. 9, a Tuesday, in Jonesboro for an ESPN2 game.
Troy has gone 13-3 over the past two seasons and split the 2017 title with Appalachian State after the Trojans and Mountaineers also did not meet during the season. That also changes in 2018 (and every season moving forward with the new divisional structure) as Appalachian State hosts Troy on Nov. 24 in a game that figures to decide the first Sun Belt East championship. Troy clinched its share of the 2017 crown with a 32-25 win over Arkansas State (6-2 in SBC play in 2017) on the first Saturday in December, and now the rematch could come in an actual championship game.
Unlike the Big 12, the Sun Belt will not play a 9-game, round-robin schedule. The Sun Belt will remain an 8-game league.
Nothing definitive has been put on the books just yet, but one report suggests a future meeting between Georgia and Oregon could be heading to Atlanta in 2022.
According to a report from Dawgs247, contracts are being worked up to bring the Bulldogs and Ducks together for the first time since 1977. And if the game is being played in Atlanta, it would stand to reason the matchup between the SEC and Pac-12 programs would be part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game festivities, whether the only game or one of the multiple games lined up for the early season fun. There are currently no games scheduled for 2022 as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta has tended to pair teams from the SEC and ACC, but a few notable exceptions have been made over the years if it means being able to bring a noteworthy program to Atlanta from outside the southeastern region of the college football map. Washington will be the first program to represent the Pac-12 in the game this season when they open the season against Auburn.
West Virginia has been the lone representative from the Big 12 to play in the game, losing to Alabama in 2014. Boise State is the only other program to play in the game from outside the power conferences, having done so twice. Boise State beat Georgia in the 2011 game and lost to Ole Miss in 2014.
Georgia has played in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game twice before, drawing even with one loss against Boise State in 2011 and picking up a win against North Carolina in 2016. Oregon has never played in the game.
Georgia is already scheduled for one future Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in 2020 against Virginia of the ACC.
Future Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games:
- 2018: Auburn vs. Washington
- 2019: Alabama vs. Duke
- 2020: Florida State vs. West Virginia
- 2020: Georgia vs. Virginia
- 2020: Auburn vs. North Carolina
- 2021: Alabama vs. Miami
- 2021: Louisville vs. Ole Miss
The moment when a player receives a surprise scholarship among the company of his teammates is never one that gets old watching, and you have to give it to coaches and programs finding new ways to always keep these moments as special as they can. Recently, Troy long snapper Cameron Kaye was surprised with a scholarship at the end of a practice, and his mother was the one to hand over the official paperwork.
As Troy head coach Neal Brown says in the video, Kaye started every game Troy played a season ago and has earned a 3.0 GPA as an exercise science major.
Kaye announced he had received his full scholarship offer on Friday, two days prior to Troy’s video team releasing the video included in this post.
Videos of players learning they are being put on scholarship will never, ever get old.
The hits just keep on coming for Penn State. Just days after a pair of Penn State players announced their retirement from football, defensive end Torrence Brown has announced his retirement from the game just before the start of the college football season.
“Due to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end,” Brown said in a statement shared on his Twitter account recently. “It has been tough coming to terms with this news but I know that everything happens for a reason and God will continue to guide me.”
Brown missed the majority of the 2017 season due to a knee injury suffered early in the year. He had hoped to return to the field this fall, but that clearly did not come to be for Brown as he battled back from injury.
Last week, Ryan Buchholz and Jordan Miner announced their retirements from the game. Prior to that, 2018 signee Nana Asiedu announced his retirement due to a heart condition. Quarterback Jake Zembiec also has retired due to a shoulder injury.
“We’re kind of having a strange year, to be honest with you,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said recently in response to some of the previously announced retirements, according to PennLive. “It’s challenging for them, it’s challenging for their parents, it’s challenging for us as a staff, in terms of managing a roster and depth, and those types of things. Most importantly, it’s difficult (because) this is their dream. This is their ultimate dream.”
Brown said he intends to follow through with the winter semester to earn his degree.
UCLA’s defense was dealt a bad card just before the start of the 2018 college football season. Bruins head coach Chip Kelly announced to reporters that linebacker Josh Woods will miss the entire season due to a knee injury from Thursday’s practice.
“It’s a big blow,” Kelly said, according to a Los Angeles Daily News report. “Just a great young man, everything you want in a football player. So it’s hard for us to try to replace because we don’t have that much depth at that position. But right now our thoughts are with Josh.”
Woods was expected to be a starter for the UCLA defense this season. Last season, he appeared in seven games and recorded 30 tackles, including 23 solo tackles. His 2017 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury.
It remains to be determined if Woods will get the chance to play for UCLA again. The senior has already earned his degree but does have the option of using a redshirt for the 2018 season and continuing to play again in 2019.