In the midst of the Christmas season full of gift giving, visiting family and enjoying holiday parties, college football is set to begin the bowl season.

While most spectators around America await for Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia to hit the field on New Year’s Day for the semifinals of the College Football Playoff, one conference champion from the Yellowhammer State is ready to set sail from New Orleans.

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Troy Trojans in “The Big Easy”

The Sun Belt Conference co-champion Troy Trojans (10-2, 7-1 Sun Belt) will officially play the first bowl game of the 2017-2018 season as they’ll face North Texas in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Troy and Appalachian State shared the Sun Belt Conference title with 7-1 conference records but Troy’s win at LSU in late September helped them become the Sun Belt’s only 10-win team this season.

Under the leadership of third year head coach Neal Brown, Troy football achieved 10 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time as an FCS program and the first time since their transition from Division II to the FBS in 1992 and 1993.

Saturday’s R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will be Troy’s fourth appearance in the game and their seventh bowl game in program history.

After concluding the regular season, the Sun Belt Conference Neal Brown was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year while cornerback Marcus Jones received Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honors and 18 Trojans received All-Sun Belt honors.

Jones received Freshman of the Year honors from the conference in large part for his three kickoff returns for scores and an average of nearly 33 yards per return while also interception two passes with one going for a touchdown.

The Trojans will face North Texas (9-4, 7-1 C-USA) who is coming off a 41-17 loss to Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls in the Conference USA Championship Game. In fact, the Mean Green’s previous two losses have come to FAU.

In between those losses, North Texas reeled off five consecutive wins heading into the conference championship game.

The Mean Green possess one of the best offensive combinations in Conference USA in sophomore quarterback Mason Fine and senior running back Jeffrey Wilson. Fine led the conference with 28 TD passes and was second in passing yards (3,741) while Wilson rushed for 1,215 yards and finished second in C-USA with 16 rushing touchdowns.

Kickoff from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is at Noon CST on ESPN.

 

Weekend Bowl Schedule (Saturday Dec. 16)

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. North Texas Noon (ESPN)

AutoNation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State 1:30 PM                            (CBS Sports Network)

Las Vegas Bowl: #25 Boise State vs. Oregon 2:30 PM (ABC)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs. Colorado State 3:30 PM (ESPN)

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State 7 PM (ESPN)