The Sun Belt Conference released the 2018 and 2019 conference schedules last week, just days prior to the Trojans announcing that it had signed a two-game series agreement with Mississippi State starting in 2026.
While Troy has a number of big names like Boise State, Ole Miss, Nebraska and Missouri on its schedule in the future, its all capped off with back-to-back years where the Trojans face Mississippi State. While it won’t happen until 2027, the Bulldogs will be coming to play at the Vet.
Meanwhile in the Sun Belt, the 10-team FBS conference will finally enjoy a conference championship game, and it will do so with two five-team divisions. The winners of those divisions will provide the championship game participants.
The conference schedules provide a look into what the new process of football scheduling will look like for the Sun Belt.
With Idaho and New Mexico State exiting the conference following the end of this season, the Sun Belt has divided the divisions geographically into the East and West divisions.
Troy will be part of a strong East division that is made up of Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Sun Belt newcomer Coastal Carolina.
Arkansas State headlines the West division and is accompanied by South Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana and Texas State.
In 2016, future West division teams won a combined 38 games, while future East division teams won 26.
The NCAA passed legislation in early 2016 that would allow any conference with 10 teams to stage a conference championship game. The school minimum was previously 12 members.
Once this passed, the Sun Belt made quick work in dropping the two schools outside of the traditional footprint in Idaho and New Mexico State.
With the addition of Coastal Carolina —which will play its first season of FBS football this season—the league now has the 10 teams it requires.
The championship game will be held on the first weekend of December, meaning each Sun Belt team will have one bye week instead of two starting in 2018.
The game will feature the division winners and will be hosted by the team with the highest College Football Playoff ranking.
If no team is ranked, a formula using six computer rankings from the old Bowl Championship Series system will be used to determine the home team. These rankings bring together win total, margin of victory and strength of schedule as primary factors.
If a conference championship game had been held last season, Appalachian State would have hosted Arkansas State.
The scheduling rotation will be reset next season to accommodate the new scheduling rules. Each team will play every other team in its respective division and four teams from the other division.
For the time being, there is only one protected cross-division game. The league voted to allow Troy and South Alabama to play each other in the Battle for the Belt each year in order to preserve the in-state rivalry.
For Troy, the Trojans will play two key road games in 2018 against Appalachian State and South Alabama. Both schools will make a return trip in 2019.
Troy will host up-and-comers Georgia State and Coastal Carolina in 2018 along with Louisiana and Texas State.
Troy’s 2019 home schedule could shape up to be the best in school history, with Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and South Alabama all making a trip to the Vet.
While the Sun Belt is making major headway in the league’s future, the Trojans have their sights set squarely on their Sept. 2 bout with Boise State.