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Battle for the Belt: An elite college football trophy

Why you need to know about the South Alabama-Troy rivalry.

Can South pull off another upset?
South Alabama athletics

This Wednesday when you turn on ESPN2 for some weeknight Sun Belt football, you won’t just be watching any regular game. At the place the Troy football faithful call “The Vet”, there will be a rivalry game taking place that will feature the best trophy in college football.

Southern Alabama’s two FBS programs will be meeting for the sixth time as Troy and South Alabama will be going at it on a Wednesday night for the second consecutive season. This was a rivalry series that was started back in 2012 with the launch of South Alabama’s football program. The two campuses are only 170 miles apart and these two programs butt heads on the recruiting trail very frequently.

For those of you tuning in only because you’ve heard about Neal Brown and Troy beating LSU, here are some things you must know about one of the most underrated rivalries in the Group of Five.

Young Rivalry

Unlike most rivalries in college football, this one is just a toddler as South Alabama did not start their football program until 2009 and did not become a full FBS member until 2013. The Jags would begin their series with Troy in 2012 and ever since then it’s been very competitive.

South Alabama has been a member of the Sun Belt Conference since its inception and Troy would become a full member in 2005 after being football only in 2004. Therefore, the two Alabama schools had been playing each other for a decade in every other sport and there is a built in pride for wanting to be the best athletic program in the southern part of Alabama.

We have two schools that know each other very well and anytime you are familiar with someone it makes a rivalry that much better.

Close Games

The inaugural meeting in 2013 got out of hand as Larry Blakeney’s Trojans handed the Joey Jones led Jags a 31-10 loss. Ever since then, South has been able to acquire some FBS athletes and three of the next four games have been decided by a single possession.

Last year, South Alabama entered the contest with Troy as a nine-point underdog and took a double-digit win Troy team to the wire in Mobile. In the first half, Troy trailed 21-10 before taking the lead for good with just under two minutes in the fourth quarter.

History tells us to throw out the records when these two clubs face off.

Champions Wear Belts

In today’s college football world, we see all kinds of programs using their own props to celebrate plays. Alabama and Arkansas State have championship belts. Miami has a golden chain, Texas A&M has a cane, and Tennessee uses a trash can. God bless you, Butch Jones.

Then we have all the crazy rivalry trophies. Cincinnati and Louisville used to play for the keg filled with nails. Minnesota and Wisconsin have an axe. SMU and TCU have a skillet.

These crazy traditions are what make college football so great, but the South Alabama-Troy series take it to a whole different level.

Even Vince McMahon would approve.

Everything about this stupid award is just damn awesome. The trophy was introduced in 2015 and each team has won in the other’s stadium since the belt became the mark of the champion. The size of the belt is not quite one that would pass as a heavyweight champion, but it could definitely be intercontinental title.

Now the only question is what do we have to do for Neal Brown or Joey Jones to wear the title belt to go along with their visor at the postgame news conference.