Southland, WAC and ASUN-WAC Alliance Game Previews – Week 7

Southland Conference Game of the Week

GAME PREVIEW: Nicholls vs. #18 Incarnate Word 

When: Saturday, October 16 at 11:00 a.m. CST
Where:  Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium; San Antonio, Texas
TV/Streaming: ESPN3

Incarnate Word defeated Northwestern State 38-27 on October 2 – it was head coach Eric Morris’ first win over the Demons, and it kept UIW undefeated in conference play. Cameron Ward passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns; Kevin Brown led the team in rushing with 81 yards and hauled in a 54-yard touchdown reception.  The Incarnate Word offense is rolling right now – the Cardinals are averaging 38.4 points per game and 451.2 yards of total offense per game.  Defensively, the Cardinals have struggled in stopping the run – they are giving up 185.6 rushing yards per game.  

The Colonels’ rivalry game against Southeastern Louisiana last weekend lived up to its billing, but the Colonels fell 58-48 in an offensive shootout at Guidry Stadium last Saturday. In the loss, wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon put forth another historic outing, totaling 171 yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions. Offensively, the Colonels are averaging 33.6 points per game; their offense has been producing 486 yards of total offense per game.  The Colonels have had trouble stopping the run – they’re giving up 153.4 rushing yards per game.

Nicholls Colonels (2-3, 1-1 in Southland) 

Lindsey Scott Jr. has thrown for 1,206 yards (241.2 yards per game) to lead Nicholls, completing 61.7% of his passes and recording 10 touchdown passes and four interceptions this season.  He has also rushed for 538 yards (107.6 yards per game) on 72 carries with five rushing touchdowns.  Running back Julien Gums has run for 313 yards (78.3 ypg) on 49 carries with two touchdowns.  Wide Receiver Dai’Jean Dixon leads the team with 627 receiving yards (125.4 ypg).  Dixon has 42 receptions with five touchdowns.  K.J. Franklin has recorded 249 receiving yards (49.8 ypg) and four touchdowns, with 19 receptions this season.  

Incarnate Word Cardinals (4-1, 2-0 in Southland) 

Cameron Ward has 1,636 passing yards (327.2 ypg) to lead the Cardinals, completing 61.5% of his passes and throwing 16 touchdown passes and three interceptions this season.  Running back Kevin Brown’s team-high 320 rushing yards (64.0 ypg) have come on 66 carries, with five touchdowns this year.  Brown also has 11 receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown. Running back Marcus Cooper has rushed for 251 yards (50.2 ypg) on 45 carries with four touchdowns.  Wide receiver Taylor Grimes’ 338 receiving yards (67.6 ypg) leads the team; Grimes has 32 receptions and four touchdowns.  Robert Ferrel has 281 receiving yards (56.2 ypg) and two touchdowns, with 21 receptions this season.  McNeese transfer Trevor Begue has 17 catches for 261 yards (52.2 ypg) and two touchdowns this season.  

Fearless Prediction

Incarnate Word stays undefeated in conference play.

Incarnate Word 34 Nicholls 30

Western Athletic Conference Game of the Week

GAME PREVIEW: Eastern Kentucky vs Central Arkansas

When: Saturday, October 16 at 4:00 p.m. CST
Where: Estes Stadium; Conway, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: ESPN+

Eastern Kentucky rattled Abilene Christian to get its first ASUN-WAC Challenge victory, 30-15 last Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.  Eastern Kentucky redshirt sophomore quarterback Parker McKinney, and redshirt freshman kicker Patrick Nations received ASUN weekly honors for their performances in the Colonels’ victory over Abilene Christian.  McKinney accounted for 300 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Wildcats.  He threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns while adding another touchdown on the ground and a career-high 98 yards rushing.  Offensively, the Colonels are only averaging 21.8 points per game, but they have managed to run the ball effectively, averaging 145 rushing yards per game.  Defensively EKU has been solid – they’re giving up 19.6 points per game and 343.2 yards per game. 

The Bears coasted to a 42-21 victory over Abilene Christian on October 2 in Abilene.  Breylin Smith completed 28-of-38 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns, with no turnovers.  Lujuan Winningham, a junior from Humble, Texas, hauled in eight passes for 211 yards, while Christian Richmond finished with five catches for 34 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.  Offensively the Bears are averaging 35.4 points per game and 423.2 yards per game.  The Bears have struggled on defense, giving up 34.4 points per game and 412.8 yards per game.  

Eastern Kentucky Colonels (4-2, 0-0 in Atlantic Sun) 

Parker McKinney leads EKU with 853 passing yards (170.6 ypg) on 83-of-144 passing with five touchdowns and four interceptions this season.  He also has 232 rushing yards (46.4 ypg) on 39 carries while rushing for three touchdowns.  Da’Joun Hewitt’s team-high 347 rushing yards (69.4 ypg) have come on 78 carries, with two touchdowns this year. Matt Wilcox Jr.’s team-leading 185 receiving yards (37.0 ypg) have come on 17 receptions.  Dakota Allen has put together a 180-yard season so far (36.0 ypg) with one touchdown and 14 receptions.  Jayden Higgins’ nine catches this season have produced 142 yards (35.5 ypg) and one touchdown. 

Central Arkansas Bears (2-3, 0-0 in Atlantic Sun) 

Breylin Smith leads Central Arkansas with 1,603 passing yards (320.6 ypg) on 132-of-201 passing with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.  Running back Darius Hale has carried the ball 80 times for 286 yards (57.2 ypg), with six touchdowns this year.  Trysten Smith has 44 carries for 235 yards (58.8 ypg) and one touchdown.  Lujuan Winningham’s 584 receiving yards (116.8 ypg) leads the team – he has 35 receptions and four touchdowns.  Tyler Hudson has 545 receiving yards (109 ypg) with four touchdowns and 30 receptions.  Christian Richmond’s 19 catches have netted him 186 yards (37.2 ypg) and five touchdowns. 

Fearless Prediction

The Bears are far better than their record would indicate – UCA wins this game Saturday.

Central Arkansas 28 EKU 20

Other games of interest

Lamar (2-3) at Abilene Christian (3-3), 3:00 p.m. CST, ESPN+

Lamar fought hard in the first half but ultimately fell to No. 1-ranked Sam Houston 41-7 last Saturday.  Abilene Christian’s late rally wasn’t enough to recover from EKU’s fast start last week – the Wildcats lost 30-15 in Roy Kidd Stadium.  

Fearless Prediction: Abilene Christian 41 Lamar 13

Tarleton (2-3) at Dixie State (0-5), 8:00 p.m. CST, ESPN+

It has been an up-and-down season for the Texans so far.  Dixie State freshman defensive back Tyrell Grayson was named WAC Defensive Player of the Week for his stellar play in the loss at No. 6 Montana last Saturday.  

Fearless Prediction: Tarleton 28 Dixie State 27

McNeese (1-4) at Northwestern State (1-4), 3:00 p.m. CST, ESPN+

McNeese battled back but fell to No.11-ranked Southeastern Louisiana 38-35 a couple of weeks ago in Lake Charles.  The Demons outlasted Houston Baptist 21-17 in Houston last week. 

Fearless Prediction: McNeese 21 Northwestern State 17

Houston Baptist (0-5) at #11 Southeastern Louisiana (4-1), 4:00 p.m. CST, ESPN+

HBU freshman QB Orion Olivas completed 15-of-33 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Northwestern State last week.  After helping Southeastern to a 58-48 Southland Conference victory at Nicholls, Lion freshman wide receiver/kick returner Gage Larvadain and senior QB Cole Kelley earned state player of the week honors from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Fearless Prediction: Southeastern 63 HBU 27