MOBILE, ALABAMA — South Alabama’s 2012 football schedule is now complete with the release Thursday of the Sun Belt Conference’s league schedule.
Dates of the Jaguars’ five non-conference games have been set for some time. South Alabama officials have known for several weeks what eight Sun Belt teams it would face this season and where, but the dates of those games were unknown until Thursday.
The release of those games, the first Sun Belt games to be played by the Jags, settles the 2012 schedule. The league has a history of releasing the dates of its conference games in march of each season.
Troy, which figures to be the Jags’ biggest Sun Belt rival, will be the first conference opponent for South Alabama. The game, scheduled for Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Sept. 29, comes at an interesting place in the schedule – on the heels of road games at North Carolina State (Sept. 15) and Mississippi State (Sept. 22). The Jags’ only off week of the season, Oct. 6, follows the Troy game.
The Jags’ have back-to-back weeks of firsts; Mississippi State marks the first SEC opponent for the program, followed by the first Sun Belt game against Troy.
“We’re excited to find out about (the schedule),” South Alabama head coach Joey Jones said. “We’ve been looking forward to this year for a while. Going into the Sun Belt Conference is a great conference in my opinion, and playing teams like Troy and Arkansas State, Lafayette and FIU and all of them – in my opinion the Sun Belt has become an extremely strong conference the last two or three years. You look at some of those teams and what they’ve been doing, they’re doing a heck of a job. So we’re excited about playing them.”
South Alabama opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Texas-San Antonio, followed by another home game Sept. 8 against Nicholls State. The games at N.C. State and Mississippi State and the arrival of Troy follow along with the off week. The Jags’ first Sun Belt road game is set Oct. 13 at Arkansas State, the league’s champion last season that earned a berth in Mobile’s GoDaddy.com Bowl.
The remaining Sun Belt home games for the Jags are against Florida Atlantic (Oct. 20), Florida International (Nov. 3) and Middle Tennessee (Nov. 17). The other Sun Belt road games are at Louisiana-Monroe (Oct. 27), North Texas (Nov. 10) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 24). As previously reported, South Alabama will close its season at Hawaii on Dec. 1, a game that allows the Jags to schedule 13 games.
South Alabama lone off week (Oct. 6) will be followed by eight consecutive weeks of play.
“The Sun Belt schedule brings three teams to Mobile that have participated in a bowl game in the past two years,” South Alabama director of athletics Joel Erdmann said. “The spacing and alternating of home and away games is ideal as we have no long stretches without a home contest. It is exciting to host Troy for our first Sun Belt Conference game. They have a tremendous tradition and strong following. The attractiveness of this schedule demonstrates another progressive step in the evolution of our football program.”
This season will mark South Alabama’s fourth as a football program and will be the final year of a two-year transition to Football Bowl Subdivision status. The Jags’ games against Sun Belt opponents will not count for South Alabama in league standings but the games will count for the Sun Belt opponents’ in league standings. The 2013 season will be the first year the Jags can play for the league crown, league honors for players and bowl eligibility.
“When you step into Division I you’ve got to play back-to-back weeks,” Jones said. “That’s just the way it goes. We’ve got 13 games and only one off week. One thing our kids are going to have to do and we’ve got to do a good job of is keeping our concentration level week to week. We can’t get too high or too low in a season like that. You’re going to have some good things happen and some bad things happen and you have to play again next week.”
South Alabama has played 10-game schedules the past two seasons after playing seven games in its first season in 2009. The Jags have an all-time record of 23-4 and are coming off a 6-4 record last season. They are 19-1 all-time in home games, 4-3 in road games.
Here is South Alabama’s 2012 schedule:
Sept. 1: vs. Texas-San Antonio
Sept. 8: vs. Nicholls State
Sept. 15: at N.C. State
Sept. 22: at Miss. State
Sept. 29: vs. Troy
Oct. 13: at Arkansas State
Oct. 20: vs. FAU
Oct. 27: at Louisiana-Monroe
Nov. 3: vs. FIU
Nov. 10: at North Texas
Nov. 17: vs. Middle Tenn.
Nov. 24: at Louisiana-Lafayette
Dec. 1: at Hawaii