Wide receiver Darian Owens (left) battles defensive back L.A. Dawson on tis pass to the end zone during a recent Texas A&M University-Commerce intrasquad scrimmage. The Lions will kick off the season at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium against a team from Mexico.

The Lone Star Conference will kick off its 89th season of college football starting on Thursday.

The LSC, which started with five member universities in 1931, has recently expanded to 19 universities. Out of that 19, nine schools field football teams. All nine teams will open their 2019 seasons with non-conference games this week.

LSC member Angelo State kicks off the season first with a home game at 6 p.m. Thursday in San Angelo against Western Oregon.

The other eight teams, including Texas A&M University-Commerce, will play on Saturday, the traditional day for college football around the country.

A&M-Commerce, under the leadership of new head coach David Bailiff, will play its first international game against Seleccion Nuevo Leon, kicking off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium in Commerce. El Seleccion represents the Asociacion Estatal de Futbol Americano de Nuevo Leon, the state organizing committee for the state of Nuevo Leon, which includes the city of Monterrey. This game was a late addition to the schedule, giving the Lions 11 games in the regular season.

“We are pleased to welcome our visitors from Nuevo Leon for this unique opportunity,” said A&M-Commerce Director of Athletics Tim McMurray. “As we tirelessly pursued our 11th game for the upcoming 2019 season, the chance to host a relatively new football program while engaging with an international partner of higher education provided us with a sensible solution. Although not an NCAA member institution, we believe the contest will have numerous benefits for our football program, our campus, the Northeast Texas region, and other constituent groups who may not otherwise be exposed to our institution or intercollegiate athletics program.”

Bailiff, who previously served as a head coach at Rice and Texas State, is succeeding Colby Carthel as the head coach of the Lions. The Lions bring back a strong nucleus from last year’s team that went 10-3 and advanced two rounds in the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Lions are ranked 13th in Division II.

Carthel will be on the field when Stephen F. Austin entertains LSC member Tarleton State at 6 p.m. Saturday in Nacogdoches.

Other 6 p.m. games on Saturday feature Azusa Pacific of California at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Wayland Baptist at UT Permian Basin in Odessa and Midwestern State at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.

Texas A&M-Kingsville will entertain Saginaw Valley State of Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday in Kingsville.

Eastern New Mexico, another LSC team, kicks off at 7 p.m. with a home game in Portales against Missouri S&T.

Western New Mexico will travel to Arizona to play Ottawa-Arizona at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Two other LSC teams have joined A&M-Commerce in the top 25 national rankings. Defending conference champion Tarleton State is No. 7. Midwestern State is ranked 20th.

Tarleton led the LSC with an 8-0 record in 2018, followed by 7-1 A&M-Commerce, 6-2 Midwestern State, 4-4 West Texas A&M, 4-4 Angelo State, 4-4 Eastern N.M., 2-6 Texas A&M-Kingsville, 1-7 UT Permian Basin and 0-8 Western New Mexico.

This will be Bailiff’s 15th season as a head coach. He was head coach at Texas State from 2004-2006 and at Rice from 2007-2017. 

Lone Star Conference

Thursday’s schedule

6 p.m. — Western Oregon at Angelo State

Saturday’s schedule

6 p.m. — Seleccion Nuevo Leon at Texas A&M-Commerce

6 p.m. — Azusa Pacific (Calif.) at West Texas A&M

6 p.m. — Tarleton State at Stephen F. Austin

6 p.m. — Wayland Baptist at UT Permian Basin

6 p.m. — Midwestern State at Northwestern State (La.)

7 p.m. — Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) at Texas A&M-Kingsville

7 p.m. — Missouri S&T at Eastern N.M.

8 p.m. — Western N.M. at Ottawa-Arizona

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