Coastal Carolina won’t have a chance to go to 12-0 in the Sun Belt championship game.
The conference announced Thursday night that Saturday’s title game between CCU and No. 19 Louisiana had been canceled because an entire position group at Coastal Carolina had been exposed to a teammate who tested positive for COVID-19 and would be unable to play the game.
“We are very disappointed that the championship game cannot be played, but we are so proud of all of the players and staff members and their hard work during this truly challenging season," Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill said in a statement. "We will honor both teams as 2020 Sun Belt Conference Co-Champions."
Coastal Carolina is 11-0 and just outside the top 10 after beating both Kansas and BYU in 2020. Louisiana is 9-1 and beat No. 6 Iowa State to begin the season. Louisiana’s only loss came in a 30-27 defeat to Coastal on Oct. 14.
Coastal’s chances at a New Year’s Six bowl likely gone
Coastal Carolina had a chance to become the first Sun Belt team to make a New Year’s Six bowl game in 2020. The Chanticleers were just three spots behind No. 9 Cincinnati in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff rankings. Had Cincy lost to Tulsa in the American championship game and Coastal beaten Louisiana, the Chanticleers could have been the top Group of Five team in the rankings and garnered an at-large berth to a New Year’s Six bowl.
While Coastal could likely finish ahead of Cincinnati if the Bearcats lose, the chances of that happening are now lower. It’s more likely that Coastal will head to a less prestigious bowl game.
CCU has been one of the most fun stories of the pandemic-impacted 2020 season. The team wasn’t expected to finish at the top of the Sun Belt and won one of the best games of the year in that 22-17 victory over BYU after stopping the Cougars a yard short of a game-winning TD as time expired. That game was scheduled just days before after Liberty was forced to back out of its game vs. the Chanticleers due to COVID-19.
First title game canceled
While there have been multiple games scheduled for Saturday canceled due to COVID-19, the Sun Belt title game is the first conference championship that’s been canceled. As of now, the nine other conference title games are scheduled to happen on Friday and Saturday.
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