The No. 9 Sam Houston State Bearkats visit BBVA Compass Stadium Thursday to take on the Texas Southern Tigers in an I-45 matchup between a pair of FCS squads. The Bearkats are nationally ranked and coming off a 14-1 championship contending season, but in the year of 2012, they are just 1-3 dating back to the FCS Championship game against North Dakota State.
Widely considered a favorite to return to the title game in Frisco, the Kats have fallen flat with losses to Baylor and Southland Conference opponent Central Arkansas in the past two weeks. Now, SHSU is in a position where it needs to win all of its remaining conference games, and another victory over a Division I opponent for good measure, if the team is looking to make another post-season run.
The extra DI win is just in case SHSU doesn't win the Southland Conference title for an automatic bid into the playoffs.
So that just leaves TSU and Texas A&M in the final game of the regular season. The Kats obviously have a better chance against the Tigers than the Aggies, making this game a bit more important than it appears at face value when skimming the schedule.
An issue the Bearkats have been dealing with in the two losses, and even the championship game last season for that matter, is finishing.
In all three games, SHSU held leads in the second half but could not hold on. The Kats look to change that luck in their first of consecutive appearances in a Houston stadium.
Next week, SHSU faces off against longtime rival Stephen F. Austin in the annual Battle of the Piney Woods at Reliant Stadium.
As for the the Tigers, they've also struggled since their dramatic 44-41 victory over Prairie View A&M in their season opener. TSU has dropped three straight games to North Texas, Jackson State and Alabama A&M by an average of 22 points.
Sam Houston holds an 8-5 edge in the all-time series with Texas Southern. The two have not met in football since 1997 when SHSU won 40-7 at Robertson Stadium. The Kats are 3-3 against Texas Southern in Houston. SHSU and TSU met in the Astrodome in 1973, 1974 and 1975 and played at Robertson Stadium in 1986, 1995 and 1997.
You can watch the game online here, courtesy of TSU and the SWAC.