Rivalry Renewed: Tarleton and Abilene Christian set to continue century-old history

TSU Sports Information

The Tarleton Texans and Abilene Christian Wildcats square off for the first time since 2013 in the battle of one of the old rivalries in the programs' histories. Both bring a similar record to Saturday afternoon's game, with Tarleton at 5-4 (2-2 WAC) and Abilene Christian at 4-5 (2-1 WAC).

The game, set for 1 p.m. CT at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium on Saturday, will be broadcast on ESPN+, with Zach Carlyle, Kauy Ostlien and Carrie Johnston 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, Cody Vannoy and Keltin Wiens leading the broadcast.

The Tarleton Texans and Abilene Christian Wildcats square off for the first time since 2013 in the battle of one of the old rivalries in the programs' histories. Both bring a similar record to Saturday's game, with Tarleton at 5-4 (2-2 WAC) and Abilene Christian at 4-5 (2-1 WAC). The game, set for 1 p.m. CT at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium.

About the matchup

The Texans and Wildcats began their storied rivalry in 1920, a 0-0 tie at an unknown location.

This is the first game between these two programs since 2013. The Texans won that game 41-34 in double overtime at a neutral site.

This is the 36th meeting between these two teams all-time, which will make the Wildcats TSU's tied-third most common opponent of all-time (McMurry 39 times, Midwestern State 37 times, Angelo State 36 times).

Tarleton last played at Abilene Christian in 2010.

Since 1998, Tarleton is 9-7 against ACU.

Quick hits

With a Tarleton win, the Texans would lock up a winning season for the fourth straight season. It'd be the longest stretch of winning seasons for Tarleton since 2000-2009 (10 straight, first five with Todd Whitten as HC).

With a Tarleton win, the Texans would finish with a winning record in WAC play in their first year as part of the conference. The Texans would make it 3-2 in conference play and would guarantee themselves a top-three finish.

Duncan

Over his last four games, Steven Duncan has compiled 11 touchdowns, 1,163 passing yards (290.8 per), and just one turnover (an INT against Lamar). He has back-to-back 300+ yard games for the first time in his career.

As a team, the Texans have turned it over just twice over their last four games, going 3-1 in those contests. In the first five games, Tarleton had eight turnovers, resulting in a 2-3 record.

For the first time this season, the time of possession battle didn't directly reflect the score, as Tarleton won the game despite losing TOP. Tarleton is 4-0 when leading in time of possession, and now 1-4 when trailing.

Sterling

The Texans were without their top three tacklers last week in their win against Lamar. Linebacker Devin Sterling was the next man up, and he delivered, winning the TicketSmarter WAC Defensive Player of the Week award following his tied-team-leading nine tackles against the Cardinals, including 1.5 TFL, in TSU's 42-21 win.

Renewing the rivalry

The Tarleton Texans and Abilene Christian Wildcats go back awhile...try over 100 years. The two programs played their first matchup in 1920, in front of -- who are we kidding, nobody even knows where the game was played! It was a 0-0 barnburner that resulted in a tie. It's one of the three first recorded games played by Tarleton, alongside the Texans' games against Trinity in 1916, and against the University of Texas-Arlington, also in 1920.

Of course, we're calling them Tarleton State University and Abilene Christian University now, but in the first matchup, it was John Tarleton Agricultural College vs. Abilene Christian College. For the sake of clarity, we'll refer to them as the Texans and Wildcats. So, the Texans and Wildcats were regular opponents in the 1920s and 1930s, before a major gap of 35 years in-between a game in 1938 and the next in 1973. The teams played each other three straight years, and then took another long gap, this one 18 years long, before starting regular matchups in 1993.

The two programs played each other every single year from 1995-2013, but haven't seen each other since. In 1994, Tarleton joined the NCAA Division II and in 1995, the Lone Star Conference, which ACU already resided. In 2013, the Wildcats were without a conference, playing independently, before joining the Southland Conference in 2014, where they stayed through 2020.

Now, the Texans and Wildcats will play as WAC foes for the first time. The last time these teams matched up in 2013, Tarleton won 41-34 in double overtime. Tarleton running back Jerome Regal rushed for 251 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. His game on the ground is still one of the best ever in program history. It was the third most rushing yards in a contest by a Texan in program history, just 18 yards short of the record.

Up next for Tarleton

Tarleton will end its 2021-22 campaign at home against Central Arkansas. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium. It's Senior Night for the Texans, a group of leaders who have left the ultimate impression in program history.