Cowboys face Abilene Christian in homecoming match Saturday

Cowboys face Abilene Christian in homecoming match Saturday

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Southland Conference's longest running member will host one of the league's charter schools when the 10th-ranked McNeese Cowboys take on Abilene Christian for homecoming at 6 p.m. Saturday night.

The game will be aired live on ESPN3, Watch ESPN, and also on ESPN GamePlan PPV. The game can also be heard on Gator 99.5 FM, the flagship station of the McNeese Radio Network.

McNeese (3-2, 1-1 SLC), is in its 42nd season as a member of the Southland Conference while Abilene Christian (4-3, 2-1) returns to the league it helped start back in 1963. The two teams played just once before – a 22-0 McNeese win in Cowboy Stadium on Nov. 18, 1972 – the Cowboys' first football season as a member of the SLC and ACU's last year with the league.

The game will also feature two teams that have a great winning tradition on the gridiron.

"Traditionally looking at them, they've obviously been one of the better D-II schools," said McNeese coach Matt Viator. "They're good. I remember it was either in 2010 or '11, they beat the heck out of Texas State and I remember making the comment, 'I really don't want to play those guys'. And a couple years later I remember (former athletic director) Tommy (McClelland) telling me they were going to get into the league.

"They have a good football team. But we have to play better and we know that. We've been here before and have obviously lost games before. It's always about today, tomorrow and this week and that's what we'll make it about."

The Cowboys are coming off a 38-22 loss at Sam Houston State last week while the Wildcats stepped out of conference and whipped Ave Maria, 55-14.

Between the two programs there have been 26 conference championships won – 14 by McNeese in the Southland Conference and 12 by ACU in the Lone Star Conference. Twenty-five NCAA playoff appearances (15 by McNeese and 10 by ACU), and four national championship game appearances (ACU won two NAIA national titles in 1973 and 1976).

Both teams will head into Saturday's game ranked No. 1 in the conference in seven different stat categories.

The Cowboys are ranked first in rushing offense (263.8 ypg), pass defense (186.6 ypg), scoring defense (19.0 ppg), and pass defense efficiency (98.1 effic.). ACU is first in rushing defense (110.4 ypg), passing offense (311.1 ypg), and pass efficiency (168.2 effic.).

McNeese quarterback Daniel Sams is second in the league in rushing with a 93.2 yards per game average while Kelvin Bennett is rated ninth in the conference with 58.2 ypg. Sams is third in the nation in rushing yards per game among quarterbacks and has run for 100 yards or more in two straight games, coming off a 130-yard effort last Saturday.

ACU quarterback Parker McKenzie tops the league with 293.4 yards passing per game along with 17 touchdowns. He's thrown for 300 or more yards in six of the team's seven games this season and had a league-high 403 yards at Georgia State in the season opener.