Texans look to rename Stephenville ‘Upset City’ on Saturday vs. Sam Houston

TSU Sports Information

Tarleton's "Pink Out" game to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer patients and families will have even more intrigue this coming Saturday with the contest on hand. The Texans will play host to the No. 1 FCS team in thenation, the Sam Houston Bearkats, who won the national championship last season. The Texans will aim to play spoiler on Sam Houston's unbeaten mark thus far.

The game, set for 6 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, will be broadcast on ESPN+, with John Liddle and Richard Bartel on the call. The game can be heard on Tarleton Sports Network at 90.5 FM in Stephenville and surrounding areas, with Byron Anderson, Kyle Masters, Kyle Crews and Keltin Wiens leading the broadcast.

Steven Duncan (11) celebrates with Gabe Douglas (2) during a recent play. The Texans will play host to the No. 1 Sam Houston Bearkats at 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

GAME DAY FESTIVITIES: The Tarleton Texans have partnered with Pink Warrior Angels to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer patients and their families. There will be 1,000 free "Pink Out" T-Shirts at the game, courtesy of Student Affairs. In order to help take down the No. 1, fans can buy a $1 ticket to the game using coupon code "MAKEITROWDY" during checkout. The offer is only available online, tickets are for East Side General Admission or End Zone. Texan Alley Tailgate will open at 9 a.m. in Lot A. For maps of the area and complete tailgating policies, visit TarletonSports.com/TexanAlley. Non-tailgating lots will open at 2 p.m., while the stadium gates will open at 4 p.m. At4:30 p.m. at Texan Alley, the Tarleton Game Day Radio Show will begin live from onsite.

ABOUT THE MATCHUP: Tarleton is taking on the No. 1 ranked FCS team in the nation, the defending national champion Sam Houston Bearkats. This is the first FCS-ranked team TSU will face since joining the FCS. The last time Tarleton has faced a No. 1 ranked opponent of any kind was Dec. 1, 2018, against Minnesota State-Mankato. Tarleton's best win in terms of rankings was the Texans' 28-24 win over No. 3 Chadron State on Nov. 17, 2001. Todd Whitten was the coach for TSU that year. This is the first meeting between Tarleton and Sam Houston since 2004, and just the fourth meeting between the two since 1975.

QUICK HITS: This is TSU's "Pink Out Game." The team has partnered with Pink Warrior Angels to raise awareness/funds for breast cancer patients/families. There will be 1,000 free "Pink Out" T-Shirts at the game, courtesy of StudentAffairs. TSU has won consecutive games for the first time this season, the first time since March 6-27, 2021 (four straight wins). The Texans are 3-0 at Memorial Stadium this season, outscoring teams 111-42 (23.0 average margin of victory). Devin Hafford was just named the TicketSmarter WAC Defensive Player of the Week following his two-interception performance against Midwestern State. Across all of NCAA Division I football, Hafford has the most takeaways (eight), the most interceptions (six) and the most multi-takeaway games (three). In the last game, the Texans set a school record for attendance by hosting 16,216 fans at Memorial Stadium. Ronnell Wilson (342 tackles) surpassed Robert Ivey (339 tackles, 1985-88) for second on Tarleton's all-time tackles leaderboard. Tally Neal (1975-78) is first in Tarleton history at 613. Tight end Max Maxfield scored both touchdowns for the Texans in the last game. He's the first Tarleton tight end with a TD this season, and the first TSU TE with multiple TDs in a game in at least the last 15 years. In fact,he's just the third TSU TE with multiple TDs in a season in the last 15 years (Brant Bailey '19, Tanner Maher '08).

TAKING DOWN GOLIATH: There's no beating around the bush, the Texans are going to need to bring their "A" game in order to take down the No. 1 FCS team in the nation and the defending national champion Sam Houston Bearkats. Their fellow WAC foe brings an unblemished 6-0 record into Stephenville, along with a 17-game winning streak, which includes their 10-0 title-winning run last year. The Bearkats have had two relatively close calls this season, a 45-35 win at Central Arkansas and a 21-20 win over Stephen F. Austin at a neutral site. Those are the only two games the Bearkats have failed to rush for 200 yards. On the flip side, the Texans have only allowed 200+ rushing yards in a game twice this year, going 1-1 in such games. It may prove more effective for the Texans to get it done through the air, as Sam Houston allows the second most passing yards per game in the conference (221.2 per).

This is the first time the Texans are playing an FCS-ranked opponent since joining NCAA Division I. The last time they played a top ranked team was their matchup against No. 1 Minnesota State-Mankato in the NCAA Division II playoff quarterfinals. The last time the Texans beat a top-5 ranked team was on Oct. 12, 2013, when they knocked off No. 4 West Texas A&M 31-27 on Oct. 12, 2013, at home. The Texans last played a defending champion in 2018, facing Texas A&M-Commerce twice coming off of their 2017 championship. The Texans won both games, including a 47-21 romping on the road. Overall, Tarleton has played the reigning champions of their league four times. Before 2018, their last such contest was in 1974 against Abilene Christian, who won the NAIA championship in 1973. Tarleton also faced Sam Houston State in 1965 coming off of their 1964 co-championship with Concordia (MN).

BRING ON THE CROWDS: This past Saturday, the Texans achieved their 15K Initiative, the goal of hosting a school record 15,000 fans for their homecoming game against Midwestern State. They saw 16,216 fans through the turnstiles at Memorial Stadium, the most fans an FCS WAC team has hosted in a home stadium (Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston played in front of 25,007 fans at a neutral site). In fact, Tarleton has hosted the two largest crowds by a WAC team inits home stadium this season. The home-opening crowd of 12,078 fans who watched the Texans beat Fort Lewis on Sept. 11 was the second largest showing.

FRIENDLY FOES: Head coach Todd Whitten is in his 17th year as the head coach of a college football team, with all 17 seasons spread between two teams -- Tarleton and Sam Houston. Whitten was the head coach of Sam Houston for five seasons from 2005 to 2009. He has yet to face the Bearkats as a head coach since rejoining Tarleton in 2016, as Tarleton hasn't even played Sam Houston since 2004.

BEST OF THE BEST: It's been quite the season for Devin Hafford, who Coach Todd Whitten labeled a future Tarleton Hall of Famer after Saturday's game. Through seven games this season, the senior has six interceptions, two fumble recoveries, 13 passes defended and 27 total tackles (18 solo). His six interceptions match his career total he had entering 2021, which was five seasons and 45 games worth. Across all of NCAA Division I football, so counting both the FBS and the FCS, Hafford has the most takeaways (eight), the most interceptions (six), and the most multi-takeaway games (three). In takeaways, the next closest players to Hafford have six (Illinois' Kerby Joseph, Western Illinois' Michael Lawson, Austin Peay's Johnathon Edwards). Hafford has had three games with two turnovers in each; two fumble recoveries at Stephen F. Austin, two interceptions against Southern Utah, and two interceptions vs. Midwestern State. In Tarleton football history, Hafford's 12 career interceptions are the tied-third most in school history. he's tied with Dashaun Phillips (2010-13), only trailing Michael Dube (1989-92) and Lance Trinque (1979-82), who both had 14 interceptions in their Texan careers. His six interceptions this season are the tied-sixth most in a single-season in Tarleton football history, just two short of matching the most in one season in the program's total run. Craig Wright had eight in 1982, as did Walter Moeglin in 1966.

THE BEST IN TEXAS: Since the start of the 2018 season, there has not been a better scholarship football program in the entire state of Texas than Tarleton State University. The Texans enter Saturday's game with 32 wins since the start of 2018, tied for the most wins in the state by an NCAA Division I or II program.

MILESTONE WATCH: 2: At 12 interceptions in his career, Devin Hafford is two short of tying Michael Dube (14, 1989-92) and Lance Trinque (14, 1979-82) for the most career interceptions by a Texan. 2: At six interceptions on the year, Devin Hafford is two short of tying Craig Wright (1982) and Walter Moeglin (1966) for the most interceptions in a single -season by a Texan.

LOOKING TO GO OVER .500: With a win on Saturday, TSU would bring its senior college era record over .500 for the first time since 1961. In 1961 under head Johnny Dunn, Tarleton won its first-ever game as a senior college. Tarleton lost its next three and had a chance to bring its all-time record to .500 again in the season finale, but lost to East Central and had not reached the .500 mark as a four-year program again until defeating Northeastern State in their second to last game of 2020. East Central spoiled it again. The Texans are currently at 313-313-3 in their senior college history.

UP NEXT FOR TARLETON: Tarleton will play their last installment of a three-game homestand against Lamar on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. It will be the Texans' second of three straight games against a conference opponent. Lamar is 2-5 on the season and is riding an active four-game losing streak.

Game day

The Teams: Tarleton Texans (4-3, 1-1 WAC) vs. Sam Houston Bearkats (6-0, 2-0 WAC)

Where: Stephenville, Memorial Stadium

Time: 6 p.m. CT

Streaming Platform: ESPN+ (John Liddle, Richard Bartel)

Radio: Tarleton Sports Network on 90.5 FM (Byron Anderson, Kyle Masters, Kyle Crews, Keltin Wiens)