This fall, Abilene Christian University will have its second opportunity in three seasons to play in the home of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, albeit in a much newer and bedazzling venue.
The inaugural Lone Star Football Festival will be Saturday, Sept. 17, a nearly all-day extravaganza of three games pitting some of the top teams in NCAA Division II. The Wildcats, defending champions of the Lone Star Conference (11-0 LSC, 11-1 overall in 2010) will play the University of North Alabama in a matchup of two teams expected to be among the highest-ranked in the nation in 2011.
The event’s site is Cowboys Stadium, the $1.2 billion, 80,000-seat home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. At noon, Midwestern State will play Texas A&M-Commerce, ACU and UNA will kickoff at 4 p.m., and West Texas A&M will play Texas A&M-Kingsville at 7 p.m.
ACU’s first appearance in the home venue for the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic was 2009, when ACU beat Texas A&M-Commerce in a Harvey Martin Classic game played in the historic Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas. The next year, the A&T Cotton Bowl Classic moved a few miles west on I-30 to a then-new Cowboys Stadium, which also went on to host the NFL’s Super Bowl XLV.
North Alabama, a three-time winner of the NCAA Division national title and member of the Gulf South Conference, is led by former Auburn University head coach and ABC Sports commentator Terry Bowden. Under Bowden, the Lions were 11-2 in 2009 and 9-4 in 2010, making the national playoffs each season.
Among ACU’s returning starters in 2011 are Harlon Hill Trophy finalist Mitchell Gale at quarterback and three-time LSC South Division Defensive Player of the Year Aston Whiteside, a defensive end. Wildcat teams coached by Chris Thomsen (M.Ed. ’00) have won two of the last three LSC titles and advanced to the NCAA playoffs each of the last five seasons.
Tickets are now on sale for the Lone Star Football Festival ($25 for adults and $10 for students), and each is good for all three games that day. Learn more here about tickets for the event.