Believe it or not, college football is here. After an interesting month where various teams and conferences postponed football due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many were wondering if games would be played this fall. There are still plenty of teams looking to play, and it starts on Saturday night when Austin Peay takes on Central Arkansas at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The game will air live on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET.
Most college football fans won't know the players on either team since they play in the FCS. However, fans should be in for a treat as both teams reached the FCS playoffs last year. Central Arkansas reached the second round while Austin Peay made it to the quarterfinals after winning a school-record 11 games. An interesting note about Austin Peay is its head coach, Mark Hudspeth, resigned in July, stating he wanted to spend more time with his family. Associate head coach Marquase Lovings will take his place on an interim basis.
"This is different," Central Arkansas athletics director Brad Teague said via USA Today. "And certainly because we're the only game on Saturday and the first game of the college football season, the first NCAA contest since COVID shut it down in the spring, there is a lot more excitement."
The game will set an example of how other college football teams will prepare and play games during a pandemic. Both teams will drove to the game on Friday and stayed in a hotel overnight. Austin Peay traveled in four buses with each bus at half capacity. For Central Arkansas, each person wore an N95 mask while on the bus, Teague said to USA Today.
"It'll be a little different because under normal circumstances parents and friends could linger in the hotel lobby and hang out with players on the team," Austin Peay athletics director Gerald Harrison stated. "But that's not happening now."
As for fans, the Cramton Bowl will limit attendance to a quarter of its 25,000 seat capacity, which is similar to what Power 5 schools are doing. Austin Peay and Central Arkansas each got 400 tickets for players, families and guests, Harrison noted. According to Yahoo Sports, no tailgating will be allowed next to the stadium, and fans must wear masks when entering the stadium or walking around. Cheerleaders will be seated in the stands, but the school's bands will not be at the game.