Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, the premier preseason sports publication for the state’s college and high school fans since its inception in the 1960s, has tabbed Sam Houston State as the favorite in the 2013 Southland Conference race.

The Bearkats are coming off of a second straight appearance in the NCAA Division I national championship game in Frisco as well as a share of a second consecutive Southland Conference championship.

Texas Football points to the strong group of threats returning on the offensive side of the ball as a major plus for the team. The veterans players back include two-time Walter Payton Award finalist Timothy Flanders at running back, record-setting quarterback Brian Bell as well explosive receivers in Richard Sincere, Chance Nelson and Torrance Williams.

“The Bearkats can afford to expect greatness,” Trey Scott wrote about the Kats in the latest edition of Dave Campbell’s. “A wealth of offensive talent returns, including senior running back Timothy Flanders, who holds 34 school record and is a first-team pick on Texas Football’s annual All-Texas College Team, a rarity for FCS players.”

The Bearkats received straight As for their offense at running back, quarterback and receivers. Sam Houston State received a B- for the offensive line since the Kats lost two starting guards and a center.

Where Sam Houston has the most question marks is on defense where the Kats lost a total of six starters on the defensive line, at linebacker and also in the secondary.

The defense will also have a new man on the sidelines calling the assignments in former McNeese State defensive coordinator Mike Collins, who replaced Scott Stoker.

With three starters back on the defensive line, Bearkats coach Willie Fritz is excited to have some depth. Fritz told Dave Campbell’s “Andrew Weaver, Gary Lorance and Jarrett Brown have really played well for us the last couple of years. We’ve got a bunch of guys who we think will be impact players for us. That should be the strength of the defense.”

Sam Houston State players report the first week of August for 2013 preseason camp. The Bearkats will play seven home games at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium this fall with the season opener Aug. 31 against Houston Baptist.

Season ticket packages, including all seven contests at Bowers plus the “Battle of the Piney Woods” at Reliant Stadium in Houston, are on sale now on line at www.gobearkats.com or at the SHSU athletic ticket office at the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone at Bowers.

For more information, call the ticket office at (936) 294-1729.