ACU expands fall football slate with season finale at Virginia

BCH Sports

ABILENE – Abilene Christian University athletics director Allen Ward has announced the addition of five football games to the 2020 fall schedule, which starts Sept. 19 at UTEP and concludes Nov. 21 at Virginia, a longtime mainstay of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“I’m very excited about the schedule we’ve been able to develop in such a short time,” said Ward. “Not only does it help mitigate our financial losses, but it also provides opportunities to play at home. I am grateful to deputy athletics director Drew Long for his excellent work. We spent many hours exhausting all options available this fall.”

The additional games on this year’s slate means the Wildcats will not compete in the spring.
“We have fully evaluated the many unique factors involved in playing an additional football schedule in the spring, with a primary focus on the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Ward said. “ACU does not believe it would be in their best interest to compete in three major contact segments within a 16-month period because it would severely impact their opportunity for rest, the time to rehab from any injury, and their focus on academic progress.”

ACU, which last month revealed games at UTEP (Sept. 19), at Army West Point (Oct. 3) and vs. West Texas A&M (Oct. 17), today confirmed the following contests:
• Home vs. Angelo State (Nov. 7) and Arizona Christian (Nov. 14)
• at Mercer (Oct. 31) and Virginia (Nov. 21)
• vs. Stephen F. Austin at Arlington’s Globe Life Park (Oct. 24)

Globe Life Park is the former open-air home to the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, which moved into its retractable-roof Globe Life Stadium earlier this year. The Rangers’ home from 1994-2019, Globe Life Park was converted to football for the Dallas Renegades’ 2020 XFL season, and is playing host to several Arlington ISD varsity games this fall.

“The game in Arlington provides our highly supportive alumni base in the Metroplex an opportunity to see the Wildcats play in their own backyard,” said Ward. “The players and coaches are excited about facing a familiar rival in a new space for football but one with so much Texas sports history for fans.”

ACU’s most recent neutral-site game in the Metroplex was a 2014 win (52-35) vs. Central Arkansas at Plano’s Clark Stadium. The Wildcats played at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in 2011 and 2012, and in 2013 they faced Tarleton State at Frisco’s Toyota Stadium.

“Playing in the unique venue of Globe Life Park and three times at home from mid-October through mid-November should be an especially memorable time for our team and fans,” Ward continued. “Overall, our games with traditional rivals and notable new ones will make this an exciting fall season for Wildcat football.”

Tickets are available for all three home games and at UTEP through Current ACU season ticket holders will be given priority access to home games. There also will be a number of tickets reserved for students.

Fans are encouraged to purchase their single-game tickets in advance. They also will be required to wear face masks at all home events and maintain physical distancing measures as Wildcat Stadium will be capped at 50 percent capacity this fall in keeping with the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“As fans prepare to attend our home games, ACU will continue to follow health and safety protocols that protect our student-athletes,” said Ward. “In addition, field access will be restricted, as will access to locker rooms and other team areas. We appreciate your respect for these important best practices.”

Additional series notes about this year’s opponents:
• A NCAA Division II rival for 40 years, Angelo State will be making its second appearance at Wildcat Stadium and first since 2018. The Wildcats won their last meeting, 41-24, but still trail the all-time series 21-28-1 despite taking 10 of their last 12 from the Rams.
• The Wildcats beat Arizona Christian, 66-14, in their inaugural meeting last fall in Abilene. The Firestorm went on to finish the 2019 season at 6-4 and were 6-2 against the Sooner Athletic Conference.
• ACU is facing the Mercer Bears for the first time in program history. FCS-member Mercer is part of the Southern Conference and finished with overall and conference marks last season of 4-8 and 3-5.
• The Oct. 24 game vs. SFA will be the first neutral-site contest between the Lumberjacks and Wildcats, whose series dates back to 1973. ACU leads the all-time series 11-9 following last season’s 31-24 double-overtime win on Homecoming.
• Fifteen Cavalier starters return from last year’s Virginia team that finished 9-5 and reached the ACC Championship Game (vs. Clemson) and Orange Bowl (vs. Florida). Virginia will be the 25th different FBS program to face the Wildcats and first from the ACC. The Cavaliers are also the third Power Five team ACU has faced in as many years, joining Baylor (2018) and Mississippi State (2019). Abilene Christian was to play Texas A&M in College Station this fall until COVID-19 upended college football schedules across the nation.

Abilene Christian University 2020 Fall Football Schedule
• Sept. 19 at UTEP (Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas) (tickets on sale now: $14)
• Oct. 3 at Army (Michie Stadium, West Point, New York)
• Oct. 17 vs. West Texas A&M (tickets on sale now, 50% seating capacity)
• Oct. 24 vs. Stephen F. Austin (Globe Life Park, Arlington)
• Oct. 31 at Mercer (Five Star Stadium, Macon, Georgia)
• Nov. 7 vs. Angelo State
• Nov. 14 vs. Arizona Christian
• Nov. 21 at Virginia (Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Virginia)

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