A highly anticipated rematch between No. 12 Coastal Carolina and No. 19 Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship Game has been canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Coastal Carolina program, the Sun Belt announced Thursday night. One of the Chanticleers' entire position groups would have been unavailable for the game "due to possible exposure," according to the league's announcement.
"We are very disappointed that the championship game cannot be played, but we are so proud of all of the players and staff members and their hard work during this truly challenging season," Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill said in a release. "We will honor both teams as 2020 Sun Belt Conference Co-Champions."
The designation of "co-champions" may not sit well with some Coastal Carolina fans considering the undefeated Chanticleers handed Louisiana its only loss of the season. Coastal Carolina won 30-27 on Oct. 14 in a road game against a Ragin' Cajuns team ranked No. 21 at the time. The performance was a signal that a Chanticleers team picked to finish last in the conference was legit, and they continued to impress throughout a season that included a thrilling victory over a BYU that was ranked No. 13 at the time.
The rematch was set to be a good one with Coastal Carolina entering as a three-point favorite. The teams share similar statistical profiles with balanced attacks that emphasize running the football, and their first meeting was a thriller as Coastal Carolina emerged victorious via a 40-yard field goal in the final seconds.
Coastal Carolina was also hoping for the opportunity to earn a New Year's Six bid as the top-ranked Group of Five team in the final College Football Playoff Rankings. However, it would have needed Cincinnati to lose to Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game in order for that to happen.