The Abilene Christian University Wildcats learned Tuesday morning that their 2014 season-opener against Georgia State will be nationally televised on ESPNU as part of the network's six-game contract with the Sun Belt Conference, of which GSU is a member.
The game is set for a 6 p.m. (central time) kickoff from the Georgia Dome on Wednesday, Aug. 27. This game will mark ACU football's third appearance on national television, following an October 2006 game at West Texas A&M (CSTV) and an August 2009 game against Northwest Missouri State (CBS College Sports). Last October's game at New Mexico State was an ESPN3 Webcast.
The Wildcats – who played as an NCAA Division I FCS independent last year – will be playing their first Southland Conference schedule since 1972 in 2014, one year after re-joining the league it helped to establish following a 40-year absence. ACU was 6-5 last year in head coach Ken Collums' second season as ACU's leader.
ACU has a slew of returning defensive players, including defensive end Nick Richardson, linebackers Justin Stephens, Blake Rudd and Lynn Grady, and defensive backs Tyler Chapa, Keith Barnett, Justin Stewart and Angel Lopez, but will need to replace almost every key offensive player from the 2013 season.
Playing their fifth season of football and second at the FBS level, the Panthers of Georgia State are continuing their annual tradition of opening the season with a weeknight, prime time game at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers were 0-12 in 2013 and are 10-35 in their previous four seasons combined.
ESPNU will televise the season's first game featuring a Football Bowl Subdivision team on Wednesday, August 27 as second- year Sun Belt member Georgia State hosts Football Championship Subdivision opponent Abilene Christian. Kickoff from the Georgia Dome is set for 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPNU.
Among the late-August game action slated for the Georgia Dome alongside the Panthers and Wildcats on Aug. 27 are the following: the Chick-fil-A Classic will include two matchups this fall: Ole Miss and Boise State play in the first game on Thursday, Aug. 28, while Alabama and West Virginia face off on Saturday, Aug. 30. The Atlanta Falcons will not know until March about their preseason schedule, requiring the primary tenant of the Georgia Dome to also black out the venue's availability on Friday, Aug. 29. In addition, the College Football Hall of Fame will be celebrating its first week open to the public in downtown Atlanta.
ESPN will open the 2014 college football season with Sam Houston State at Eastern Washington in the new FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The only college game of the day, and the first contest of the season, will match traditional Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) power programs that finished the 2013 season in the FCS Coaches poll (No. 3 Eastern Washington and No. 13 Sam Houston State) and are expected to be in the preseason FCS Coaches top 25 poll.
Sam Houston State of the Southland Conference at Eastern Washington of the Big Sky Conference will be the first game of an extensive schedule of FCS coverage across multiple ESPN platforms in 2014. The 2013 season included 58 regular-season games exclusively on ESPN3; all 23 games of the FCS Championship on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3; College GameDay Built by The Home Depot originating from North Dakota State; and multiplatform coverage of matchups against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs.
ESPN’s coverage of the FBS – the most extensive among media networks with more than 400 games – will begin with matchups across multiple platforms on Thursday, Aug. 28, and conclude with exclusive telecasts of the inaugural College Football Playoff. Schedule details are being finalized.
(Information for this story provided by ACU Athletics)