The Florida Atlantic Owls and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will join Conference USA in 2013 rather than 2014, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson confirmed Friday evening.
Both schools were set to join C-USA on July 1, 2014 but moved up their timetable. They join Florida International and North Texas who are also leaving the Sun Belt for C-USA.
With the departure of FAU and MTSU, the Sun Belt Conference will have only eight football-playing members in 2013: Arkansas State, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, UL Lafayette, ULM, and Western Kentucky.
Georgia State and Texas State will be new members of the SBC. Georgia State moves up from the Football Championship Subdivision, while Texas State moves over from the WAC.
With only eight teams in the Sun Belt, the conference will have a seven-game football schedule. That means all eight conference members now need an extra non-conference game in order to have a full 12-game schedule.
As we indicated last week, the pickings are slim at the FBS level. As of today, it appears that only Duke, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Marshall, and Missouri need a non-conference game. BYU recently added Idaho State, but could add a 13th game, and some internet chatter indicates that Tulane will host Jackson State.