HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats unveiled the schedule for the upcoming 2020 football season on Thursday, a schedule which includes five home games to be played at Bowers Stadium.
The Kats, who finished 7-5 and posted their 10th consecutive winning season in 2019, will kick off the 2020 season with a pair of home non-conference games before jumping into the nine-game Southland Conference slate.
“We feel like this is a schedule that can put us in position to win a Southland Conference championship and return to the postseason,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “Having two non-conference games against FCS opponents at home to start the year is a great opportunity for us, and we know that our league games will be a challenge once again.”
The 2020 season will begin on September 5 when SHSU hosts Tarleton State, who will be playing its first game as a Division I program. The Texans have been one of the top teams in Division II each of the past two seasons, going 23-2 in that span under former Bearkat head coach Todd Whitten.
SHSU holds a 14-2 all-time record over Tarleton, but have not seen the Texans on the gridiron since the 2004 season and only three times since 1975.
“This will be a tough game right out of the gate and will give us a good idea of where we are early in the year,” Keeler said. “Our programs have played against one another a lot in the past, and it is exciting to renew that rivalry as part of their transition to the Division I level.”
The Kats will then host Mississippi Valley State on September 12, the first time SHSU has seen the Delta Devils since a home-and-home series that the Kats swept in the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
With the non-conference slate behind them, a rigorous Southland gauntlet begins with a pair of road games at Nicholls and UIW and continues with the Battle of the Piney Woods, keeping Sam Houston away from Bowers Stadium until October 10.
“This league has gotten so much better, from the bottom up, over the past several years,” Keeler said. “I don’t see that changing this year. Each of those nine games will be a battle that we are going to have to be prepared for.”
SHSU will face Nicholls, the two-time defending league champs, on September 19 at Guidry Stadium in Thibodaux, La., for the league opener. One week later the Kats travel the other way on I-10 to the Alamo City to face UIW on September 26.
The 95th annual Battle of the Piney Woods will then be set for October 3 with the Bearkats carrying a nine-game win streak over the Lumberjacks in the annual rivalry held at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Kats will finally play on their home turf once again on October 10 when they host Abilene Christian for Bearkat Family Weekend, opening up a stretch of three out of four games in Huntsville. They will trek to Northwestern State on October 17 to battle Northwestern State before coming back to Huntsville for homecoming vs McNeese on October 24.
Following its bye week in the final weekend of October, SHSU will host Central Arkansas on November 7 in the home finale before closing out the regular season with road games at Lamar (November 14) and Houston Baptist (November 21).
Renewals and new sales for season tickets for the upcoming 2020 season will begin on Monday, February 10. Those wishing to renew or purchase new season tickets can contact the Bearkat Athletics Ticket office at 936-294-1729 or on GoBearkats.com.
2020 Sam Houston State Football Schedule
September 5 vs Tarleton State (Huntsville)
September 12 vs Mississippi Valley State (Huntsville)
September 19 @ Nicholls (Thibodaux, La.)*
September 26 @ UIW (San Antonio)*
October 3 vs Stephen F. Austin (Houston/NRG Stadium)*
October 10 vs Abilene Christian (Huntsville)*
October 17 @ Northwestern State (Natchitoches, La.)*
October 24 vs McNeese (Huntsville)*
November 7 vs Central Arkansas (Huntsville)*
November 14 @ Lamar (Beaumont)*
November 21 @ Houston Baptist (Houston)*