When Florida takes the field against Troy on Saturday, there will be more on the line than just a college football game. The Gators are the current holders of "The Belt," a fascinating but obscure piece of college football history, one the Trojans would claim if they pull off the upset.
The College Football Belt Championship is an unofficial championship tracked at web site www.collegefootballbelt.com. The premise is simple: Much like a boxing title, the only way to win The Belt is to beat the current belt-holder on the field. If a team wins The Belt, they then defend The Belt Championship every time they take the field until someone beats them and takes The Belt from them.
The Belt was first awarded to the 1971 Nebraska team deemed the "Greatest Team Ever." Nebraska had won 32 straight games, but lost The Belt the following season to UCLA. Two games later, the Bruins lost to Michigan, and The Belt was passed from team to team through the years.
Florida won The Belt in last year's BCS title game by beating Ohio State, which had taken The Belt from Texas earlier in the year. The Gators successfully defended its Belt Championship last week against Western Kentucky and will put it on the line against all opponents until someone beats them and wins The Belt.
This is Florida's third stint as Belt Champion. In its first "Belt Game" in 1983, Florida beat LSU to secure the Belt. After two successful defenses, the Gators lost to Auburn, who carried The Belt throughout the remainder of the season. Florida next won The Belt in 1987 by beating Alabama, but lost it two games later to LSU.
In all, Florida is 7-8 in "Belt Games." Prior to the BCS title game, Florida's last attempt to win The Belt came in 2002 when the Gators lost to Miami, which was in the midst of a record 31 straight Belt title defenses. Should Florida beat Troy, the two successful defenses would tie the Gators' longest reign as Belt Champions.