Texas State is experiencing what North Texas faced in the early 2000's as the only Texas representative to the Sun Belt conference: they have no natural rivals. Former FCS rivals Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, and Nicholls State are still in the Southland Conference, TAMU-Kingsville (Texas A&I for those alums that go way back) is still in Division 2, and UTSA has jumped to C-USA and won't play the Bobcats until 2017.
Rivalries are the lifeblood of college football -- they get fans' blood boiling and create expectations around a program. So just who could Texas State mix it up with in the Sun Belt? Here are some potential candidates.
Why? Proximity. Lafayette is an easy drive over from Houston, a major Texas State alumni base, and Texas/Louisiana trash talk can get pretty fun. Knocking off UL while they're the team to beat in the Sun Belt would be a good first step towards earning the ire of the Ragin' Cajuns.
Why not? UL fans already have prepackaged rivalries with ULM, Louisiana Tech, and FCS power McNeese State, and Texas State hasn't presented a significant challenge to their grip on the conference yet.
Why? Proximity and history. Bobcats in Dallas/Fort Worth, another alumni stronghold, would have only four hours of driving to make road games at Monroe. Both teams were also Southland Conference members in the 1990's.
Why not? Things never got particularly heated between Texas State and ULM in the Southland, and ULM fans have always focused on showing up the Ragin' Cajuns, Louisiana Tech, and to a lesser extent Arkansas State.
Why? North Texas and Arkansas State developed something resembling a rivalry out of the usual sparks that fly between Texas and Arkansas schools. Regional A-State rivals Memphis and Middle Tennessee are now in different conferences, leaving ULM as Arkansas State's main historical rival and a void for a secondary conference rival to step into.
Why not? There's a complete lack of history between the two schools, UL is a much more immediate challenge to A-State's power, and Jonesboro is much closer to Memphis than the Texas border.
New Mexico State
Why? The Aggies also lack an in-conference rival, and had also developed something of a rivalry with UNT while in the Sun Belt. There's also that big water dispute between the two states, so if nothing else maybe in a few years some fistfights over the last $20 bottle of Dasani in the concessions line could liven things up.
Why not? Unlike with UNT, NMSU and Texas State don't have 50+ years of history with each other, and even though they're in different conferences the Aggies have always directed most of their hate towards UTEP and New Mexico. NMSU also needs to prove they still belong in FBS before Bobcat fans can really take them seriously.
Why? If UT-Arlington's long discussed football program ever gets off the ground, Texas State is their closest rival. Both schools also have history dating back to 1987, and they've been a package deal in the transition from Southland to WAC to Sun Belt.
Why not? Until college football in Arlington finally happens, the Mavericks are a non-starter as a rivalry option.