Coming off a 14-1 season and a trip to the national championship game, the Sam Houston State football team will play a pair of in-state FBS schools in 2012.
On Sept. 15, the Kats will travel to Waco to take on Baylor and then will close the regular season at Texas A&M on Nov. 17.
In addition to the two FBS road trips, the Kats will play a pair of games in Houston this season. The annual Battle of the Piney Woods game will be played Oct. 6 at Reliant Stadium for the third straight year. Last season’s contest draw a record 25,145 fans, the largest in the history of the rivalry.
The Kats will also have the opportunity to play the one of the first college football game at the new BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston when they take on Texas Southern on Sept. 29.
“Scheduling at our level can be tricky at times, especially when a team has the success we did last season and then also dealing with the loss of two Southland schools to the WAC,” said director of athletics Bobby Williams. “Because of the rotation of the Southland Conference schedule and the contracts we have for our non-conference games, there will only be three games this season at Bowers Stadium. However we are very happy to have to opportunity to play two games in Houston, where we have a tremendous fan base.”
BBVA Compass Stadium is the new home of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer and will be shared by Texas Southern. It is a grass surface field and the stadium will seat 22,000 fans. The Kats have played nine times previously in Houston since moving up to the FCS level and the games have been very well attended, with an average crowd of more than 17,000 per game.
“The stadium is similar to FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco where we just played for the FCS National Championship,” Williams said. “This will give our players and opportunity to return to a somewhat familiar setting as we prepare to follow up on our successful 2011 season. Our fans can come out to both games in Houston so we can treat them as home games and have more orange in the seats than any other color.”
The 2012 campaign will mark the first for the Aggies in the Southeastern Conference, also making it the first time the Bearkats have faced off against an SEC opponent. The last time the Kats played Texas A&M, a crowd of 58,569 watched the game at Kyle Field.
“Ideally you would like to stay away from playing two FBS opponents in a season, but the game against Texas A&M is less than an hour drive from Huntsville and another opportunity to see the Bearkats play close to home,” he said. “We have had some great games with the Aggies in many of our other sports and I think this really is an ideal matchup for us and one both sets of fans can look forward to. The media coverage we get playing the in-state FBS schools and the games in Houston will be a huge boost to our program, department and university as a whole.”
It will be the third trip to Waco in the last nine years for the Bearkats and the first to College Station since 1997. The last time the Kats played Texas Southern was also during the 1997 season.
The remainder of the schedule is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.