JONESBORO (3/12/08) The 2008 Arkansas State football schedule is highlighted by three home games slated for September, including a marquee game against Southern Mississippi, as well as road games against long-time rival Memphis and tradition-rich Texas A&M and Alabama.

ASU’s schedule features five home games, seven games against teams that finished .500 or better in 2007 and five contests against teams that went to a bowl game last season.

Arkansas State opens its 2008 campaign on the road against Texas A&M on Aug. 30, playing the Aggies for the second time under head coach Steve Roberts.  ASU and Texas A&M also met in 2003 at Kyle Field in the third meeting ever between the two schools.

ASU will host Texas Southern in its home opener Sept. 6.  The Texas Southern contest will mark the first of three consecutive home games for ASU, which will play Southern Mississippi a week later on Sept. 13 before hosting Middle Tennessee on Sept. 20 in its homecoming game.

ASU will catch Southern Mississippi for the third time in the last four years, also facing the Golden Eagles in the 2007 regular-season finale and in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl.  ASU will open its seven-game league schedule with the Blue Raiders, playing its first Sun Belt Conference game on the earliest date in school history.

“Obviously, this will be a challenging schedule, but we are excited about the opportunities those challenges present,” said Roberts.  “There is great regional appeal in our schedule with games against Texas A&M, Southern Miss, Memphis and teams from within our conference.  We look forward to this year’s schedule and competing.”

Following its three-game home stand, its longest since 2002, ASU will play its fifth game at Memphis Sept. 27 as part of a four-year deal with the school that brings the Tigers back to Jonesboro again in 2011.  ASU won the last two meetings in the series, winning at Memphis in 2006 on a deep pass as time expired and again last season at Indian Stadium when it overcame a 25-point halftime deficit.

After its first open week, Arkansas State will host Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 11 in its second of three Sun Belt Conference home games during the season.  ASU will travel to Louisiana-Lafayette for an Oct. 18 contest, followed by its second open date Oct. 25.

While ASU will play Alabama on Nov. 1 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, which seats 92,138, for the first time ever, it actually played Alabama once before.  The Indians and Crimson Tide met Oct. 2, 1982, but played at Birmingham’s Legion Field in a game that Alabama won 34-7.

The Alabama game has the potential to draw the second largest crowd to ever watch an ASU football game, just behind the crowd of 102,368 on hand for the Indians’ game at Tennessee in 2007.  Alabama has sold out every home football game since the 1988 season.  The game will mark the third consecutive year ASU has played an SEC opponent, also catching the Volunteers in 2007 and Auburn in 2006.  It will also be ASU’s 49th all-time meeting with a current member of the Southeastern Conference.

ASU’s final four games will all be against Sun Belt opponents, starting with a trip to Miami to face Florida International on Nov. 8.  ASU defeated FIU 31-6 in its only road game ever played against FIU, but will face the Golden Panthers at their new on-campus stadium in 2008.  ASU’s third and final open date will arrive the week after the FIU game.

As part of its annual “Senior Night”, ASU will play its final home game Nov. 22 against defending Sun Belt Conference and New Orleans Bowl champion Florida Atlantic.  ASU closes out its regular season with two road games, facing North Texas on Nov. 29 and Troy on Dec. 6.

2008 ARKANSAS STATE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Aug. 30 at Texas A&M
Sept. 6 Texas Southern
Sept. 13 Southern Mississippi
Sept. 20 Middle Tennessee* (Homecoming)
Sept. 27 at Memphis
Oct. 4 OPEN
Oct. 11 Louisiana-Monroe*
Oct. 18 at Louisiana-Lafayette*
Oct. 25 OPEN
Nov. 1 at Alabama
Nov. 8 at Florida International*
Nov. 15 OPEN
Nov. 22 Florida Atlantic*
Nov. 29 at North Texas*
Dec. 6 at Troy*

*Sun Belt Conference game
Dates subject to change