ULM Could Be Sam Houston’s NRG Stadium Game in 2028

One of the FBS’ most tortured fanbases could receive some reprieve though a game in an NFL stadium in 2028.

ULM is 5.5 hours from Houston
Source: ULM Football

Former Southland Conference rivals will reunite when Louisiana-Monroe and Sam Houston a few years from now. The two schools agreed to a home-and-home series that will see the Warhawks host Sam Houston in 2027 and travel to Huntsville for the return game the following year.

However, with any team that agrees to a home-and-home series with the Bearkats, there is a chance Sam Houston will move the game to the Houston Texans' NRG Stadium since the university plays one game per year at "The House that Andre Johnson Built." Despite having one of the lowest attendance figures in the FBS, Louisiana-Monroe has a case to be Sam Houston's NRG Stadium game in 2028.

First and foremost, Louisana-Monroe is a university within a drivable distance of Houston. The 5.5-hour driving distance from Monroe to NRG Stadium is closer than nine of Sam Houston's ten Conference USA counterparts. Sam Houston has two other non-conference games scheduled for 2028, both road games.

Consequently, Louisiana-Monroe is the most likely opponent to bring a sizable travel party to NRG Stadium. The only other realistic option is Louisiana Tech, which is also around 5.5 hours from NRG Stadium. However, the Bearkats' NRG Stadium game is usually a non-conference game, as it is in 2023 and 2024.

Despite having a smaller fanbase, ULM's long-suffering fanbase will see a trip to an NFL stadium as a rare opportunity for the program. Few callings are more thankless than that of a ULM fan. Since moving up to the FBS in 1994, the Warhawks have had one winning season and one bowl appearance.

Furthermore, ULM fans hardly have trips that are particularly fun for the fans. Excluding games at temporary NFL venues such as LSU's Tiger Stadium, Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium, and Memphis' Liberty Bowl, the Warhawks have played six times at NFL stadiums. Only two of those have come since 2009, a 2012 visit to the Superdome against Tulane and a 2016 visit to the Georgia Dome against Georgia State.

Games against Sam Houston at an NFL stadium allow ULM fans to enjoy a bowl-like experience without reaching the six-win plateau that has so often eluded them. It is reasonable to believe ULM fans could travel in better numbers than Air Force fans did this past season when the Falcons played at NRG Stadium. Sam Houston's game against Air Force drew 25,121 fans, a respectable number for a Group of Five game. Nonetheless, there were still plenty of empty seats in NRG Stadium's lower bowl. ULM's fanbase would likely be more interested in a game against Sam Houston than Air Force's, given the Falcons' consistency and frequent appearances in Texas bowl games.

ULM playing in an NFL stadium is hardly a site that many people envision. Nonetheless, given the geography and circumstances, the Warhawks are a quality fit to make an appearance in the Space City.