|Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game|
|Most championships||Appalachian State|
|Official website||Official site|
|Hercules Tires (2021–present)|
|Kidd Brewer Stadium, Cajun Field, Veterans Memorial|
The Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game is an annual college football game that determines the season champion of the Sun Belt Conference (SBC). The game is played between the SBC 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 Troy Trojans.
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. Several months later, the Sun Belt Conference announced that they would be introducing a football championship game starting in the 2018 season.
In 2017, the conference announced the two divisions that teams would compete in, with division winners qualifying for the championship game. 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 competed 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. 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. 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, was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic effects within the Coastal Carolina program. As a result, the teams were declared co-champions for the 2020 season.
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.
With the addition of four new members in 2022—James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss—the SBC adopted a new alignment for all divisional sports, with the new dividing line being the Alabama–Georgia border. Accordingly, James Madison, Marshall, and Old Dominion joined the East Division, with Southern Miss joining the West Division. Troy moved from the East to the West.
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|
|2018||Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns||19||Appalachian State Mountaineers||30||Kidd Brewer Stadium • Boone, North Carolina||14,693|
|2019||Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns||38||21 Appalachian State Mountaineers||45||18,618|
|2020†||19 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns||–||12 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||–||Brooks Stadium • Conway, South Carolina||–|
|2021||24 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns||24||Appalachian State Mountaineers||16||Cajun Field • Lafayette, Louisiana||31,014|
|2022||Troy Trojans||45||Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||26||Veterans Memorial Stadium • Troy, Alabama||21,554|
|2023||Troy Trojans||49||Appalachian State Mountaineers||23||20,183|
† The 2020 game was canceled by Coastal Carolina due to COVID-19 issues.
Results by team
|Selections||School||Wins||Losses||Win %||Year(s) won||Year(s) lost||No contest|
|4||Appalachian State||2||2||.500||2018, 2019||2021, 2023|
- James Madison is not eligible to play in the SBC Championship Game until completing its transition from FCS to FBS in 2024.
- Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana–Monroe, Marshall, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Southern Miss, and Texas State have yet to earn a Sun Belt Football Championship Game bid.
- Dan Wolken (January 13, 2016). "NCAA members OK football championship games for all conferences". USA Today. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Creg Stephenson (June 7, 2016). "Sun Belt Conference will add football championship game in 2018". AL.com. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- AP (May 23, 2017). "Sun Belt announces divisions starting in 2018 football season". ESPN. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Tom Fornelli (May 23, 2017). "Sun Belt announces football divisions for 2018, new collaborative replay system". CBS Sports. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- 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.
- "Appalachian State to Host Sun Belt Championship Against Louisiana". sunbeltsports.org. November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
- 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.
- "Sun Belt championship game canceled due to COVID issues". AL.com. December 18, 2020.
- "Coastal Carolina, Louisiana named co-champions after Sun Belt championship canceled". WBRC.com. December 18, 2020.
- "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.