Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Jessica Mendoza will be the announcing crew for the August 23 ESPN national telecast of the FCS Kickoff matching Sam Houston versus Eastern Washington.

The contest, which will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Central Time in Cheney, Washington, will open the NCAA college football television schedule for the 2014 season. It will be the only college telecast that day.

Jones has been an announcer for ESPN since 1990, calling college football and basketball games and NBA pro basketball.

Gilmore, who joined the ESPN staff in 1996, is best known for his work on College Football Live and Goal Line.

An Olympic gold and silver medalist as a member of the USA softball team, Mendoza is one of the hosts of Baseball Tonight and serves as an analyst for ESPN softball telecasts.

“Being selected to play Eastern Washington in the FCS Kickoff is such an honor for Sam Houston State’s football program,” Bearkat head coach K. C. Keeler said. “Anybody wanting their college football fix on August 23 is going to be watching the Bearkats and the Eagles. We’re the only game on that day. This game has been such a motivator for our team as we prepare to take on an outstanding Eastern Washington team.”

Sam Houston and Eastern Washington will be meeting for the fourth time. The Bearkats have won all three previous meetings. Two of the victories came in the FCS playoffs and the third was at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium last year. Each time the pair have met on the gridiron, both teams have been nationally ranked.

In the 2004 FCS quarterfinals, the Bearkats were down 34-14 with 14:54 to play on an icy field in Cheney. Sam Houston rallied for 21 fourth quarter points to win 35-34 after scoring with 0:00 left on the clock.

Back in Cheney in 2012 in the NCAA semifinals, Sam Houston jumped up to a 35-0 halftime lead. EWU rallied for 42 second half points but the Kats held on for a 45-42 victory to advance to the FCS National Championship Game for a second consecutive year.

Last season, in a regular season showdown in Huntsville, No. 4 ranked Sam Houston defeated No. 2 Eastern Washington 49-34 in a game that saw the two teams combine for 1,052 yards total offense.

Sam Houston is one of only three FCS programs to earn NCAA Division I playoff berths each of the past three seasons. The Bearkats reached the FCS National Championship game in Frisco in 2011 and 2012. Eastern Washington won the FCS Championship game in Frisco in 2010.

Bearkat alumni and fans across the state and the nation are scheduling FCS Kickoff “Watch Parties” for the August 23 SHSU versus EWU showdown. See this link for complete list of watch parties and locations.