For openers, it's Texas Tech for Bears

The reigning Holiday Bowl champs highlight the 2014 football schedule for the University of Central Arkansas Bears.

UCA, under the direction of new head coach Steve Campbell, will open the season in Lubbock, Texas, against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who beat 16th-ranked Arizona, 37-23, in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Diego.

“We definitely have a challenging schedule,” said Campbell, who took over the UCA program on Dec. 20. “We know we are going to be challenged in the non-conference season. But we also look at it as a great opportunity to see where we are and see where we need to improve.

“We’re looking forward to that first game at Texas Tech. We’re excited about it.”

The Bears, who finished 7-5 in 2013, will play 12 regular-season games again in 2014, including six home games. They will follow the opener at Texas Tech on Aug. 30 with a home matchup with Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 6. Next up is another tough road game at perennial FCS power Montana State in Bozeman on Sept. 13.

UCA then returns home for consecutive weeks against Missouri State (Sept. 20) and Nicholls State (Sept. 27), the Southland Conference opener. On Oct. 4, the Bears travel to Stephen F. Austin, which is coached by former UCA head coach Clint Conque, before returning home to host Houston Baptist on Oct. 11.

Home and road games alternate from there, including at Southeastern Louisiana (Oct. 18), home versus Northwestern State (Oct. 25), away against Abilene Christian (Nov. 1) and home against Lamar (Nov. 8). UCA’s lone open date comes on Nov. 15 before the regular-season finale against SLC rival Sam Houston State on Nov. 22 in Huntsville, Texas.

“Having been around the Southland Conference before, I know what kind of football this league plays,” Campbell said. “It will be a challenge each and every week, but one we are excited about. We’re anxious to get started.” The Bears open Spring Practice on Thursday, March 6. The annual Purple/Gray Game is set for Saturday, April 12 at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.

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