Welcome to the party, Sam Houston. The Bearkats arrive at the FBS ranks in 2023 after a tremendous run in the FCS, including a national championship two years ago. Head coach K.C. Keeler is also a newcomer to FBS football. That proves a challenge because there aren’t any playoffs to qualify for. Each game represents a new opportunity to become bowl eligible, which is possible for Sam Houston if it reaches six games and there are spots open in bowl games because not enough other teams did. The Bearkats would be bowl eligible in front of any five-win APR teams that usually qualify in the absence of enough six-win teams.
SAM HOUSTON BEARKATS
2022 schedule: 5-4
2023 prediction: 4-8
BIGGEST GAME – vs. Jax State on Sept. 28
The very first conference game for Sam Houston as an FBS program takes place in late September when Jacksonville State and Rich Rodriguez arrive in Huntsville on a Thursday night on ESPNU for the latest addition of the Gravy Bowl. It’ll be the first true home game as an FBS program, as well, for Sam Houston because the Week 2 home contest against BYU will be played 70 miles down the road at NRG Stadium in Houston. Both teams are FBS newcomers with rich traditions as successful FCS programs. The winner gets an early leg up in the transition process.
TRAP GAME – at New Mexico State on Oct. 11
Sam Houston won’t encounter any easy wins as a first year FBS program, so a trap game might be out of the question. A trip to New Mexico State might prove a tougher challenge than expected, however, at least on paper. Jerry Kill got NMSU into a bowl game last year and the momentum is real in Las Cruces. To make matters worse, it is an odd Wednesday night game following a Week 6 trip to C-USA favorite Liberty. The programs that handle these mid-season midweek games the best will challenge for conference titles.
UPSET ALERT – vs. Air Force on Sept. 9
The non-conference schedule for the Bearkats is a tough entry into FBS football. The season starts with a trip to BYU to face one of the four new Big 12 members. Sam Houston returns home in Week 2 for a game against Air Force – well sort of. The tilt takes place at NRG Stadium in Houston. Air Force was 10-3 in 2022, but a lot of those wins came in close games. They were only 2-2 on the road. A low-scoring affair means that the Bearkats possess a shot at an upset with a few big plays on offense.
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