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PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Atop the AFCA Top 25 National Poll, fifth-ranked Sam Houston State, 21st-ranked Tarleton State headline action among NCAA Division I FCS teams

With NCAA Division III teams from Texas wrapping up the unprecedented spring college football season last week, the spotlight shines solely on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) this week.

Wrapping up their inaugural season as an NCAA Division I football program, the 21st-ranked Tarleton State Texans (5-2) will host East Central (Okla) of the NCAA Division II’s Great American Conference at 6 p.m. Thursday at Stephenville’s Memorial Stadium.

On Military Appreciation Night, the first-ever B-52 Military Flyover at Tarleton State University will follow the National Anthem. All active-duty service members and retired members of the armed forces will receive free general admission tickets for themselves and their immediate families

After the Texans cracked the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National Top 25 poll for the first time two weeks ago, Tarleton State climbed three more spots on the strength of an overwhelming 38-0 victory over Northeastern State last Saturday in Stephenville – notching the 500th victory in program history.

Thursday’s tilt represents the second time that Tarleton and East Central have competed on the gridiron during a milestone, transitional season in Stephenville. The Texans and Tigers began their all-time series in 1961 during Tarleton’s first season as a senior college.

East Central leads the all-time series 12-10 since the first meeting in 1961, but the series has been dominated by the Texans since 1990. Notching their first win in the series, the 1990 Texans became the first in Tarleton history to complete an undefeated regular.

Also headlining the FSC schedule, the fifth-ranked Sam Houston State Bearkats (3-0) host the winless Northwestern State (0-4) at 6 p.m. Thursday in Huntsville’s Bowers Stadium looking to stay undefeated and atop the Southland Conference.

Following Thursday’s game, Sam Houston State will close out the spring season by hosting McNeese State (2-3) April 10 before facing 20th-ranked Incarnate Word (3-1) in the season finale April 17.

Other FCS games Saturday feature 11th-ranked Nicholls State (4-1) hitting the road to take on McNeese State (2-3); Lamar (2-3) visiting 22nd-ranked Southeastern La (2-2), and Texas Southern (0-2) hosting Grambling State (0-3).

Throughout the unprecedented spring football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus prognosticators will select NCAA FCS and Division III college football games featuring Texas teams.

This season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel consists of newcomer Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), while Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton, The Sports Buzz photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

For the record, Gridiron Gurus’ friendly battle for bragging right during the “real” fall football season came down to the final game of the season, the Super Bowl. With both Wade and Brett amazingly tied after picking 245 games going into Super Bowl LV, Wade correctly picked Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to upset Brett’s choice and favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs. Congrats, Wade.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 spring football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the unprecedented spring football games. Be sure to make your picks as well!

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