Southland Football Non-Conference Analysis

Abilene Christian: @ Baylor (FBS), vs. Angelo State (Low).
Two games; a money grab and likely beat down followed by the exact opposite at home.
Central Arkansas: @ Tulsa (FBS), vs. Murray State.
My usual venom for Southland non-conference scheduling doesn’t pertain here. Most FCS teams need a money game and Tulsa is pretty close by. But at least they play another FCS school in their other one.
Houston Baptist: vs. Southwest Baptist (Low), @ Southern Methodist (FBS).
A position reversal of Abilene Christian’s above, they take the win first before grabbing the cash.
Incarnate Word: @ New Mexico (FBS), @ North Texas (FBS), vs. North Alabama.
As the odd team out, they get the benefit of playing two FBS games, with both in pretty decent proximity. They host North Alabama in the finale before they become a full-fledged FCS team next year.
Lamar: vs. Kentucky Christian (Low), @ Texas Tech (FBS).
No disrespect to Kentucky Christian, but Lamar had to have been able to find a better opponent, right? At least it’s a home game. The road game probably won’t be very fun to play.
McNeese: @ Northern Colorado, @ Brigham Young (FBS).
Ultimate props to McNeese for not only playing an FCS opponent, but for playing both non-cons on the road. Think they’re figuring out a little tougher schedule would have put them in the playoffs last year.
Nicholls: @ Kansas (FBS), @ Tulane (FBS).
Now, if you only have two non-conference games to schedule and aren’t going to go lower division for an automatic win, this is how you do it. Two road games at FBS teams. Get that money. Who knows, they might pull an upset here?
Northwestern State: @ Texas A&M (FBS), vs. Grambling State.
The game against a SWAC team is a home, FCS, in-state game. Props to them for helping out their FCS brother. The previous game with A&M might lend some bumps and bruises going into the second.
Sam Houston State: vs. Prairie View A&M, vs. North Dakota.
Two home games. They’ll need them too as four of five and six of nine of their conference games are on the road or neutral site games. Prairie View A&M pushed them last year and North Dakota is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2017.
Southeastern Louisiana: @ Louisiana-Monroe (FBS), @ Louisiana State (FBS).
Two FBS road games kick off the schedule. Snatch that cash. And they get to do it against FBS teams from their own state.
Stephen F. Austin: @ Mississippi State (FBS), vs. Tarleton State (Low).
Here’s another example of how the Southland does it; FBS roadie, lower division homey. Nothing exciting here.
Southland Opponent Breakdown
2 vs. Big Sky
1 vs. Ohio Valley
2 vs. Southwestern
1 vs. FCS Independent
13 vs. FBS
4 vs. Lower Class Opponents (Div-II, Div-III or NAIA)
The isolationist plan the Southland has going for it is bad. For a conference with eleven teams, to be playing only six games against the rest of FCS is pathetic. The six they do play, their teams should be favored in every one of them. But it’s not because the Southland is strong, it’s because they play weaker teams from other leagues. This is why the perceived strength of the Southland is so bad, a 9-2 McNeese missed the playoffs in 2017 and an undefeated Sam Houston State was given a 5-seed in 2016, despite being ranked #1. The nine game conference schedule doesn’t work with an odd number of teams. Incarnate Word only plays eight, as the odd team out. This conference could easily go to eight games and pick up opponents from the southern half of the Big Sky, which would help both conferences.