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Football: National TV rematch with App State highlights 2019 football schedule

Special to the Advertiser, March 1, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference and ESPN announced the conference’s 2019 football schedule on Friday, revealing dates for all conference games as well as the league’s initial national broadcast lineup.

The television schedule for the first three weeks of the regular season, including game times for midweek contests, will be announced at a later date. For games in the fourth week of the season and beyond, network designations will be determined typically 12 days prior to the contest. A number of games will air on ESPN?.

A rematch of the 2018 Sun Belt Football Championship Game between UL and Appalachian State is just one of several intriguing midweek contests selected for a national television broadcast. The Ragin’ Cajuns will host the scheduled contest Oct. 9 on ESPN2.

More: Change is in the Sun Belt Conference football air

The Mountaineers will also face longtime rival Georgia Southern on Halloween in Boone, North Carolina, on a Thursday night on ESPNU. The two teams have met 34 times with App State holding a 19–14–1 advantage in the series, but the Eagles won last year’s contest 34-14 after the Mountaineers had just entered the Associated Press Top 25.

Another rivalry chosen for an ESPN2 primetime showcase, Troy will host South Alabama on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Troy owns the series lead at 4-3, but the last time the two teams met in Troy the Jaguars stuffed the Trojans 18-9 one week after defeating a ranked LSU squad.

West Division rivals Arkansas State and UL will meet Oct. 17 on ESPNU in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The Cajuns hold an all-time series record of 24-21-1 against the Red Wolves. The two teams tied for the best record in the West Division last season, but UL's 47-43 head-to-head win sent the Cajuns to the conference's inaugural title game.

Other ESPNU Thursday night appearances include Georgia Southern at South Alabama on Oct. 3, ULM at Texas State on Oct. 10 and UL at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 7.

The 2019 Sun Belt Football Championship Game is set for Dec. 7 on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

More: Big secret: UL's Napier keeps lid on recruiting strategy

The 2019 season will conclude with the Sun Belt guaranteed a minimum of five spots in postseason bowl games. The conference maintains partnerships with the R?L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Dollar General Bowl, Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, AutoNation Cure Bowl and NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. 

More: Cure Bowl hits home for Ragin' Cajuns and their families

Additionally, the College Football Playoff guarantees that a spot among the New Year's Six bowl games will be given to the highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five conferences: the Sun Belt, American Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA.

The Sun Belt is coming off a record-breaking season in 2018 as the league hit a new high for non-conference wins with 24, breaking the previous record of 22 in 2016.  That win total was the highest total number of wins among all Group of Five conferences.

More: Napier: Cajuns 'met most of our needs' with signing class

In addition to its regular-season success, the Sun Belt has continually taken advantage of its postseason bowl opportunities.  The league has the highest bowl game winning percentage over the last three seasons in all of Football Bowl Subdivision, winning nearly 70 percent of its games. 

Ragin' Cajuns 2019 football schedule

8/31       ^ Mississippi State

9/7         Liberty

9/14       Texas Southern

9/21       at Ohio

9/28       * at Georgia Southern

10/9       * Appalachian State (ESPN2)

10/17     * at Arkansas State (ESPNU)

11/2       * Texas State

11/7       * at Coastal Carolina (ESPNU)

11/16     * at South Alabama

11/23     * Troy

11/30     * ULM

^ in New Orleans

* Sun Belt game