Southland Football Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Southland Conference
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
The Southland is still playing a nine-game conference schedule with an odd number of teams, eleven. That means one team gets left out, only playing eight. This year that team in Houston Baptist. Last year, Incarnate Word was the odd one out, losing only two conference games, giving them a share of the Southland title with Nicholls, who actually had a better record, 7-2 to 6-2. In any event, the conference is playing fifteen games against FBS competition this year, against only six with lower division teams. Still, the conference is only playing thirteen games against other FCS conferences and most of those are against the nearby SWAC. There’s something about using regional opponents, but there’s another about not testing yourself out of conference. This has been a big complaint of the Southland for many years.
Abilene Christian: @ North Texas (FBS), vs. Arizona Christian (lower), @ Mississippi State (FBS).
  • Everyone understands the check chasing that FCS schools do with the larger FBS programs, but playing Mississippi State for your last game does nothing for you. Unless said team is getting a bigger check from these SEC teams (the main culprit), this really needs to be discontinued.
Central Arkansas: @ Western Kentucky (FBS), @ Austin Peay, @ Hawai’i (FBS).
  • Nobody is a fan of playing all your non-cons on the road. However, UCA is double-dipping the FBS pot. One of those is Hawai’i. Who wouldn’t want to go there? There is the Hawai’i rule stating you can play an extra game if you play there, but that would have meant no bye weeks and a thirteen game schedule. The Bears obviously thought otherwise.
Houston Baptist: @ Texas-El Paso (FBS), vs. Texas Wesleyan (lower), @ South Dakota, vs. Texas Southern.
  • The odd team with the extra game. Might not look like a schedule to be proud of, but they’re doing more than most SLC teams. A trip to UTEP is in-state, but going all the way across Texas is a LOOOONG trip. And venturing to MVFC country is a challenge they didn’t have to make, but did anyway. Having the two home games makes that an easier decision.
Incarnate Word: @ Texas-San Antonio (FBS), vs. Texas Southern, @ New Mexico State (FBS).
  • Another double-dip. The New Mexico State game is their second to last overall. Now where there’s criticism of the SEC and their late season cherry-picking, you can’t do that to NMSU. They are a FBS Independent and they have to schedule out of the norm sometimes. For UIW, this will be a profitable venture.
Lamar: vs. Bethel University (lower), vs. Mississippi Valley State, @ Texas A&M (FBS).
  • Not a fan of playoff, or playoff caliber, teams scheduling lower class opponents. It won’t count come Selection Sunday. Hopefully that’s not something that costs them later. Really, the MVSU game will count, but it will hold very little prestige. They could have done better.
McNeese: vs. Southern, @ Oklahoma State (FBS) vs. Alcorn State.
  • Exactly the same as Lamar above. Two wins against SWAC teams will count as Division I wins, but they will carry almost no water come November. That is unless one of them runs the table otherwise and goes to the Celebrations Bowl. Again, they could have done better.
Nicholls: @ Kansas State (FBS), vs. @ Prairie View A&M, @ Texas State (FBS).
  • Much like Central Arkansas, Nicholls is playing all their non-cons on the road. And similarly, they do have a five-game home schedule within conference play, which takes the sting off this travel regiment. Nicholls was able to pull an upset of FBS Kansas last year, can they do it again?
Northwestern State: @ Tennessee-Martin, vs. Midwestern State (lower), @ Louisiana State (FBS).
  • For a team trying to reach regular success, this isn’t a completely bad schedule. Their first game at UTM should be a pretty good barometer between the SLC and OVC, not to mention exactly what kind of progress the Demons are making.
Sam Houston State: @ New Mexico (FBS), vs. Panhandle-OK State (lower), @ North Dakota.
  • Enjoy what Sam Houston State has been doing the last few years. They’ve been reaching out and trying to find some different competition. Maybe even going out of their way to do it. It’s important to play teams from other parts of the country, especially competitive teams.
Southeastern Louisiana: vs. Jacksonville State, @ Bethune-Cookman, @ Mississippi (FBS).
  • These are SELa’s first three opponents on their schedule. The last two will coincide with their first two SLC games, both on the road. That means a wonderful stretch of four of five away from home. Those two conference roadies are in-state, but still. Jacksonville State is the kind of opponent you want to see on schedules.
Stephen F. Austin: @ Baylor (FBS), vs. Tarleton State (lower), @ Southern Utah.
  • Not a bad schedule. Baylor provides some money, Tarleton State should provide a win and Southern Utah provides a FCS opponent from an AQ conference that isn’t so far away that it’s crazy. The southern and eastern schools of the Big Sky should be on more Southland radars.
Southland Numbers
1 vs. Big Sky
1 vs. MEAC
1 vs. MVFC
3 vs. OVC
6 vs. SWAC
1 vs. FBS Independent
15 vs. FBS
6 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)