The ACU Wildcats officially being their journey into NCAA Division I ON July 1. The Wildcats enter as a member of the Southland Conference but are playing football as an independent this year. John David Baker is expected to take over for Mitchell Gale under center.
Like ACU, McMurry is starting a new era. The War Hawks are led by 1st year head coach Mason Miller in their 2nd year in NCAA Division II. Miller takes over a team in transition. Only a few players are back from last year's 8-3 team. McMurry's schedule includes 5 games against Lone Star Conference teams and 3 games against Football Championship Sub-division teams.
The HSU Cowboys are the only Abilene university that can compete for a conference championship. The Cowboys are riding a streak of 21 straight winning seasons entering this year. Head coach Jesse Burleson returns 14 starters including sophomore Jesse Ramos, who averaged 21 yards every time he touched the ball in 2012. The Cowboys were 6-4 last year. HSU is picked to finish 3rd in the American Southwest Conference behind Mary Hardin-Baylor and Louisiana College. Howard Payne is picked 7th.