Jacksonville Sports Day

AutoNation Cure Bowl Set to Welcome Sun Belt Championship Runner-Up

Photo by Brandon K. Pierce

ORLANDO, Fla. – The first selection of the 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) was announced on Tuesday by the Sun Belt Conference with the runner-up of Saturday’s inaugural Sun Belt Football Championship game between Appalachian State and Louisiana heading to Orlando, Fla.

Kickoff for the fourth-annual AutoNation Cure Bowl on CBS Sports Network is set for Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m. ET at Camping World Stadium

“Being able to play in the AutoNation Cure Bowl will culminate a great season by one of these fine championship teams,” said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. “Since the bowl’s establishment in 2015, the Sun Belt representative has always been treated to a first-class experience and this year will be no different.”

Kickoff for the first Sun Belt Football Championship Game will come straight out of College GameDay on ESPN at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT on Saturday, December 1. App State’s Kidd Brewer Stadium will serve as the championship venue when the Mountaineers (9-2, 7-1 Sun Belt) host the Ragin’ Cajuns (7-5, 5-3 Sun Belt). The winner will play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 15.

“We are always excited to have a representative from the Sun Belt Conference in the AutoNation Cure Bowl and we look forward to hosting a team that played in the Conference Championship Game this year,” said bowl Executive Director Alan Gooch. “The Sun Belt is a strong football conference with excellent programs and the guarantee of having a Division Champion in our game this year is tremendous.”

In the first three years, the AutoNation Cure Bowl has been used as a platform to donate over $3.55 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). These donations have impacted the local Orlando community with BCRF providing $1.1 million to help fund research by Dr. Annette Khaled at the UCF College of Medicine.

“With this announcement and the guarantee that the winner of the Championship Game will play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, our other bowl partners can begin the process of selecting the teams that are the best fit for them,” said Benson. “We believe we will have some very positive outcomes with these selections.”

Saturday’s game is the culmination of the first season that the Sun Belt divided into two five-team divisions in football, a move that created excitement and intrigue up until the final weekend of the regular season – one in which five different teams could have claimed a spot in the Championship Game the last Saturday of the season.

During the last two seasons, the Sun Belt tied its record for wins in the postseason with four wins in both 2016 and 2017.

The Sun Belt finished second in bowl winning percentage among all 10 FBS conferences in each of those years while also finishing fourth in 2015. Reaching back to the 2014 season, no conference has a better total bowl winning percentage (.611) than the Sun Belt Conference. Further, the Sun Belt has won more games during that four year period (11) than its peers: the American Athletic Conference (10) and the Mid-American Conference (6).

That fact is staggering when considering the Sun Belt has reached its win mark despite those conferences having more opportunities to win games (AAC – 27, MAC – 23, Sun Belt – 17).

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