The Sun Belt has finally managed to fit all of the square and round pegs into their correct respective holes and have released the conference schedule for the 2015 season. So without further ado, here's what the conference schedule looks like, courtesy of the Texas State Athletics website:
By the way, if you need a refresher on what the out of conference slate looks like, click here.
So let's talk about how nasty October is going to be. Right after the roadie at Houston, Texas State gets a bye week, then has to hit the road again to 2013 Sun Belt champs and the bane of the Bobcats' existence, UL Lafayette. Then they get another bye week, and play another bowl team (and budding rival?) in South Alabama. Then they have a short turnaround to go to Statesboro and play last year's conference champs on Thursday night on ESPNU. Essentially, that's four teams in a row that either made a bowl or should've made a bowl.
Another way to look at it is that Texas State will play four teams in a row (having already played Florida State, mind you) with 2014 S/P+ ratings of 87 (@Houston), 62 (@ULL), 83 (USA), and 49 (@GASO). The Houston game isn't the Sun Belt's fault, but that's almost as tough of a stretch as you can get in the 'Belt. Contenders Arkansas State, ULL, Georgia Southern, and Appalachian State don't have any three/four game stretches like this, somehow. Break out the conspiracy theories!
That said, it could be worse. Much worse. For example, Texas State could have Georgia State's slate from mid-October to late November.
Congratulations Sun Belt. You have become the rogue wave to Georgia State's dinghy.
Anyway, back to the good guys. In exchange for the October grinder, Texas State gets three very winnable home games in November, including one nationally televised game on ESPNU on a Thursday night. There's also a roadie at Idaho, which looks like an easy win on paper but could very well be a trap game, then a tough trip to Jonesboro to round out the schedule.
The good news about the game on ESPNU? It's against ULM, so it'll be tough but definitely winnable. The bad news? It's another Thursday night game. In November. Texas State barely got 12,000 people in the stands against Arkansas State, and we know by now that the empty stands did not impress bowl representatives on national television. The Sun Belt probably only has so much power in negotiating midweek games with ESPN, but this doesn't exactly give Texas State optimal conditions to position themselves for their first bowl game. That won't make Bobcat fans who blame the 'Belt over last season's bowl snub happy.
Then again, if the alumni in Austin and San Antonio would stop making excuses and go to the games, and if the Bobcats can manage to win 8 games or more, these concerns could all be gravy come bowl season. Here's hoping.