ORLANDO, Fla. (OrlandoSportsFoundation.com) – The first selection of the 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl 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. 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).
About the AutoNation Cure Bowl
Bringing Teams Together to Find a Cure for Cancer. The AutoNation Cure Bowl is more than a game. It is a platform to raise awareness for cancer research and recognize those that thrived in the fight against cancer. Funds raised from the AutoNation Cure Bowl directly benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Since 2015, the bowl has raised a collective $3.55 million dollars to benefit breast cancer research. The 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl benefitting BCRF, pitting teams from the Sun Belt Conference and the American Athletic Conference, is set for Saturday, Dec. 15 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT/1:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network and iHeart Radio’s 96.9 The Game. To learn more, visit CureBowl.com.
About the Sun Belt Conference
Entering the second decade of the new millennium, the Sun Belt Conference continues to challenge itself, and its competitors, in all aspects of intercollegiate athletics. Not content with being simply the youngest football conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the conference has shown that it can rise each and every season that comes along. And since the birth of the league as an FBS member in 2001, the evidence is clear that the conference is indeed rising above competitors and peer conferences. The Sun Belt finished second in bowl winning percentage among all 10 FBS conferences the last two seasons. Reaching back to the 2014 season, no conference has a better total bowl winning percentage (.611) than the Sun Belt. All that success comes as the 2018 season will see the conference split into East and West divisions for the first time and stage its first-ever championship game at the end of the regular season on December 1, 2018. Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy give the league 10 football members. Little Rock and UTA compete as Sun Belt members in sports other than football.