SAU Muleriders, Harding Bisons Get Nationally Televised Football Matchup in Fall

Continuing their partnership with the CBS Sports Network (CBSSN), the NCAA has announced their 2013 slate of Division II games to be aired live through the nationally-televised network. As part of this, it has been announced that Southern Arkansas’ home game on October 3 against Harding University will be among the scheduled games.

“We are absolutely thrilled and honored to be among the slate of Division II games that will be shown live on the CBS Sports Network next fall,” remarked SAU Director of Athletics Steve Browning. “This opportunity to showcase our program in a marquee football matchup with Harding on a national stage speaks to the direction of our football program. It is also an honor that means a lot to the school and its incredible and faithful alumni.”

The game, which was originally slated as SAU’s Homecoming game and to be played on Saturday, October 5, was moved up two days in order to fit the Thursday night format that the CBSSN will broadcast the DII games. As a result, SAU’s Homecoming game will now be against Ouachita Baptist on Saturday, November 2. Kickoff for the game against OBU will be at 2:30 p.m.

“It is exciting that the Harding at Southern Arkansas contest has been selected for inclusion in the Division II Game of the Week package,” commented Great American Conference Commissioner Will Prewitt. “The CBS Sports Network is a growing national platform and it’s fantastic that the GAC will be able to showcase two teams that reached post-season play last season on it.  We look forward to welcoming the CBS Sports Network and college football fans tuned in across the country to Magnolia on October 3.”

CBS Sports Network’s announcement  of the game on October 3 as one of six games to be broadcast this fall. The Great American Conference joins just six other Division II conferences featured as part of the package.

Both the Muleriders and Harding Bisons made the postseason in 2012. Harding advanced to the Division II playoffs for the first time in program history and finished with a 9-2 record. Southern Arkansas improved by five wins from 2011 in posting an 8-3 record and an appearance in the C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of the Texas Bowl.

This year’s game represents the 50th all-time meeting between the two programs. The two played last year’s game in El Dorado, Ark., for the Boomtown Classic. Harding won the game, 23-20. The Bisons’ special teams played a major role in the game as they scored two points off on a blocked extra point and a fourth-quarter touchdown on a blocked punt. NFL draftee Ty Powell blocked both kicks becoming the first player in school history to block two kicks in a game. Harding’s First-Team All-GAC kicker John Gay won the game with a 44-yard field goal as time expired.

The Muleriders return a potent backfield in quarterback Tyler Sykora and running back Mark Johnson. Sykora threw for 3,393 yards and 31 touchdowns, against only nine interceptions, last year. Johnson has led the GAC in rushing in both 2011 and 2012 – surpassing the 1,000-yard plateau both years. In the Heart of Texas Bowl, he rushed for a school record 264 yards.

Harding Bisons return a bulk of its offense that averaged over 33 points per game in 2012. All-American fullback Romo Westbrook averaged 6.0 yards per carry and Second-Team All-GAC wide receiver Donatella Luckett totaled nine touchdowns. The Harding Bisons return four offensive linemen from a unit that ranked fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game, 320.55.

“This exposure is certainly great for Harding, Southern Arkansas, and the Great American Conference,” Harding Athletic Director Greg Harnden said. “Both teams should be very competitive again this year which should make for a great game to watched all over the country.”

The Muleriders currently hold a 25-23-1 lead in the all-time series which dates back to 1925. Kickoff for the Oct. 3, 2013 game has been set for 7 p.m., Central Time.

Video of Harding Bisons head football Coach Ronnie Huckeba

Courtesy SAU Athletics, Harding Athletics and the Great American Conference

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