College Sports Journal Southland Conference Previews: Week of 9/28/2019

1/3 of the way through the season, there are still a large number of Southland teams in contention for the league title. What was already thought to be a crowded field has only gotten more crowded with the level of play of Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions are 2-1 with their eye on more. Sam Houston State should be back in the race this year as well. Nicholls has struggled a bit the last two weeks, but they have a lot of conference play left after this weeks FBS matchup.

BYE: Central Arkansas

Conference Game of the Week:

Sam Houston State (2-2, 1-0) at McNeese State (2-2, 0-1)
Where: Cowboy Stadium, Lake Charles, LA
When: Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM
TV/Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription req’d)

Sam Houston State Bearkats

Sam Houston is off to a solid start in 2019. They came away disappointed in week one. The Bearkats went to New Mexico and played an FBS opponent extremely competitive, losing by just eight points. The Bearkats and their faithful really thought that was a game they could win. After bludgeoning an NAIA opponent Sam Houston fell to North Dakota, just as they did last year. Southland play opened last week for Sam Houston where they easily handled Incarnate Word. Always known for a strong offense and lackluster defense, the Bearkats held UIW to just 6 points. If Sam Houston can get consistently strong defensive performances, they are going to be a tough team to beat throughout the year.

Key Player: Sam Houston spent all of last year trying to find the right replacement for Jeremiah Briscoe. That continued a bit this year, but the Bearkats have settled on QB Eric Schmid under center. Schmid is averaging 229 yards per game and has thrown seven touchdowns and three interceptions. If needed, he can also tuck the ball and run. In four games, Schmid has added four touchdowns on the ground, which is tied for the team lead.

Courtesy American Press

McNeese State Cowboys

In a conference ripe with strong QB play, not many teams in the Southland have a defense that can key them to victory each week. However, McNeese State is one of those teams. They have a solid quarterback in Cody Orgeron – son of LSU head coach Ed, but McNeese knows their bread is buttered on defense. They will slow teams down and play physical, which is sometimes hard for the wide open offenses to adjust to in the Southland conference. Eventually, the Cowboys will need to see the offense put the team on its back and win a game. If they can get to 20 points, they’ll win more games than not.

Key Player: To slow down powerful offenses, you need to make the quarterback uncomfortable. McNeese has just the guy for that in LB Carlos Scott. Through four games, Scott has 28 tackles with 2 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Scott has also forced a fumble that he recovered and added another QB hit. It will be imperative that he get Eric Schmid of his mark if McNeese is going to win this game.

Fearless Prediction: This game features two teams with opposing styles where the power vs power is on display with the Bearkat offense vs the Cowboy defense. So naturally this will probably come down to the Bearkat defense vs the Cowboy offense. I would expect Sam Houston to get that final stop. Sam Houston 27, McNeese State 21

Fearless predictions for the rest of the slate

Texas Southern (0-3) at Houston Baptist (3-1), Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM, Husky Stadium, Houston, TX, ESPN3 (subscription req’d)

The early season FCS surprise Houston Baptist will pick up their fourth straight win and they will do so in blowout fashion behind another star game from Bailey Zappe. Houston Baptist 48, Texas Southern 20

Stephen F Austin (0-4, 0-1) at Lamar (2-2, 0-1), Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM, Provost Umphrey Stadium, Lamar, TX, ESPN+ (subscription req’d)

If Lamar is going to return to the playoffs, they cant slip up against bad teams like Stephen F Austin. The Lumberjacks game Nicholls a game last week for a half and may do the same this week, but Lamar wins. Lamar 31, Stephen F Austin 17

Southeastern Louisiana (2-1, 1-0) at Northwestern State (0-4, 0-1), Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM, Turpin Stadium, Natchitoches, LA, CST, ESPN+ (subscription req’d)

Southeastern Louisiana has thrown themselves right in the thick of the discussion in the Southland. They need to win the games where they are a big favorite and will do so this weekend. Southeastern Louisiana 44, Northwestern State 14

Nicholls (2-1) at FBS Texas State (1-3), Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM, Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, TX, ESPN3 (subscription req’d)

Nicholls will be looking to put an FBS win in their back pocket for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, Texas State no longer has the worst coach to continue to get promotions, Everett Withers, on their sideline. Jack Spivital is a better coach. Nicholls has a chance to win this game and the senior quarterback to do it. But they will come up just short. Texas State 21, Nicholls 20

Abilene Christian (2-2, 1-1) at Incarnate Word (1-2, 0-1), Saturday September 28th, 7:00 PM, Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium, San Antonio, TX, Incarnate Word Athletics

Both teams need this game. Both teams feature excellent quarterbacks: Luke Anthony for Abilene Christian and Jon Copeland for Incarnate Word. ACU has a touch better defense and that will make the difference in this game. Abilene Christian 30, Incarnate Word 26