Press Release


Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018

The University of Houston Cougars and the Washington State Cougars will meet for the seventh installment of the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff on Friday, Sept. 13 at NRG Stadium in Houston. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.  The two teams will meet for the first time since the 1988 Aloha Bowl when Washington State won 24-22.

“The AdvoCare Texas Kickoff has become a premier early season college football tradition and the 2019 event is no exception,” said General Manager of Lone Star Sports & Entertainment David Fletcher. “We look forward to welcoming the University of Houston Cougars, the Washington State Cougars and their respective passionate fan bases to NRG Stadium for this special Friday night lights edition of the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff.” 

Washington State leads the all-time series, 2-1, with WSU winning 32-18 in 1959 and Houston capturing a 21-7 victory in 1966. Both of these games took place in Houston.

“We are very pleased to showcase these two outstanding programs in the early season 2019 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming and ESPN events. “Both schools have dedicated alumni and engaged fan bases and the expectation is a great crowd on hand for the Kickoff matchup.”

This season, Houston is 8-3 overall, with a 5-2 conference record. The Cougars are bowl eligible for the sixth straight season, the best streak in program history. With one of the nation's top offenses, Houston ranks second nationally in total offense with 546.1 yards per game while ranking fourth nationally in scoring offense with 47.8 points per game. It has three games this season over 600 yards of total offense.

University of Houston Head Coach Major Applewhite is in his second season after finishing the 2017 season with a record of 7-6 including an appearance in the Hawaii Bowl. Applewhite, who has 14 years of coaching experience including seven as an offensive coordinator, has coached in 12 bowl games, four of which have been the New Year’s Six variety including the 2010 BCS National Championship. Applewhite’s first season as a head coach started off with adversity as Houston was hit with one of the nation’s most devastating natural disasters in Hurricane Harvey. Applewhite rallied his team to a seven-win season and finishing second in The American West.

“We are honored to receive the invitation to participate in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff,” said University of Houston Vice President for Athletics Chris Pezman. “We have fond memories from our last action in the event and look forward to creating more in front of our hometown fans in a primetime nationally-televised game.”

Washington State ranks seventh in the Associated Press Top-25 with a 10-1 overall record and a 7-1 record in conference play. The Cougars are 10-1 for the first time since 1997 which matches the program record for wins. The team leads the nation in passing offense with 400.5 yards per.

Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach is in his seventh season and finished the 2017 season with a 9-4 record. In 2015, Leach was named the Pac-12 Co-Coach of the Year. Under his leadership, WSU has had three nine-win seasons in the past four years, one including the 2018 season where at least two games remain. He has guided the Cougars to four bowl appearances in his first six years, a first for a WSU head coach, and the only head coach to lead WSU to three-straight bowl games. The Cougars opened the 2017 season with six-straight victories and posted wins over No. 5 USC and No. 18 Stanford. Once again, the Cougar offense ranked among the national leaders in passing offense (2nd) while the defense ranked in the national top 25 in seven categories.

“We are excited to face a quality program such as the Houston Cougars next year in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff Game at NRG Stadium,” said Washington State Director of Athletic Pat Chun. “It provides our fan base the opportunity to see a tremendous nonconference opponent in a great part of the country, while giving our student-athletes the chance to play in a world-class stadium.”

The game will mark the seventh year of the partnership between Lone Star Sports & Entertainment and ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, to bring a top early season college football events to NRG Stadium each year.

A special presale for advance tickets will start today, Tuesday, Nov. 20 and fans can visit for more information. Initial ticket prices will range from $30-125.  Fans can also call 832-667-2390 for more information on suites, group tickets and premium hospitality.


Lone Star Sports & Entertainment

Lone Star Sports & Entertainment is an event management company founded in 2003 that is closely affiliated with the NFL’s Houston Texans. Since its founding, LSSE has established itself as the leading sports event promoter in Houston with events that create a direct annual economic impact of more than $100 million for the City of Houston. In addition to the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl and the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff, LSSE has emerged as a premier host for international soccer matches, including the 2017 Manchester Derby, Copa America Centenario, the 2010 MLS All-Star Game featuring Manchester United, the 2006 FC Barcelona U.S. tour, 2003 and 2008 matches between the United States and Mexico, and the 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cups.  LSSE has also reinvigorated the Battle of the Piney Woods presented by H-E-B rivalry between Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State and has promoted major concerts featuring Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and country superstars including George Strait and Kenny Chesney.

ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 32 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 15 college bowl games, 10 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Fla.); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); DXL Frisco Bowl (Texas); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Myrtle Beach Bowl (South Carolina); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Atlanta); Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth);  The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta)

Collegiate Basketball

AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Fort Bliss, Texas); Charleston Classic (South Carolina); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona (South Bend, Ind.); Myrtle Beach Invitational (Conway, S.C.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); State Farm Champions Classic (Indianapolis) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)

Collegiate Softball

St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Clearwater, Fla.)

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.


 Media Contacts:   

AdvoCare Texas Kickoff: Allie LeClair at 832-667-2050;
ESPN Events: Anna Negron at 860-766-2233;