Nicholls Favored to Win Southland Football Spring Season
January 27, 2021
FRISCO, Texas – Nicholls is the favorite for the Southland Conference spring football season based on a preseason vote, the league announced Wednesday. The two-time defending co-champions received seven first-place votes and 67 total points to garner the top spot in the poll, presented by Hercules Tires.
Sam Houston is a close second with six first-place votes and 65 points. Southeastern Louisiana comes in at third with 48 points, followed by McNeese with 45 points and the final first-place vote. UIW earned 32 points in the preseason poll, and Northwestern State (20) and Lamar (17) round out the predicted order.
The Colonels (9-5, 7-2 SLC) claimed a share of the league crown for the second-straight season, defeating North Dakota at home in the opening round of the FCS playoffs before falling in the second round to eventual national champion North Dakota State. Nicholls enters the spring season with eight preseason all-league picks, including four first-team offense honorees.
Though the Colonels have a hole to fill at quarterback following the graduation of last year’s Southland Offensive Player of the Year Chase Fourcade, whoever wins the job will have plenty of help around them with running back Julien Gums, wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon and offensive linemen P.J. Burkhalter and Jair Joseph – all first-team preseason picks.
After back-to-back five-loss campaigns, Sam Houston is seeking a return to the postseason and paces the spring season participants with nine preseason All-Southland selections. The Bearkats’ stalwart defensive line, which led all FCS institutions in rushing defense (69.9 YPG), boasts three returning all-conference student-athletes.
Southeastern Louisiana (8-5, 6-3 SLC) returned to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2014, topping Villanova in the first round but losing to Montana in the second round.
The spring season brings the long-awaited coaching debut of Frank Wilson III, who takes over a McNeese squad aiming to get back on track after back-to-back five-loss seasons.
The Southland Conference preseason poll is voted on by each head coach and football sports information director. Each voter ranks their predicted order of regular season finish, not including their own team. First-place votes are worth six points, second-place votes are worth five and so on to one point for sixth place.