Week 1 Southland FCS Football Game Breakdowns



Welcome back to the 2012 college football season, sports fans! This week’s agenda of Southland non-conference games involves schools that are meeting opponents for the first time. Not much can be told about these meetings because the teams don’t have a history of playing together, but if there is any indication many of these matches might be blowouts because of the FCS teams going up against Football Bowl Series programs. There are seven games on the Week 1 agenda for the Southland, including a pair of Thursday contests to kick off the campaign.


Southwestern Oklahoma State at Stephen F. Austin, Thursday, 6:00

The Lumberjacks welcome Southwestern Oklahoma State to their Nacogdoches, Texas home for the first time, as these schools are facing off in their inaugural meeting. It is a tale of two teams whose seasons took different directions as the fall went on. Stephen Austin recovered  from a 1-5 start to win the final five games of the season and go 6-5. Meanwhile, SW Oklahoma started 4-1 but collapsed down the stretch to finish with a 5-6 record. History is in favor of Stephen Austin, which is 30-18-1 in home openers dating back to 1965 and 25-11 over its last three seasons. QB Brady Attaway and WR Cordell Roberson are among Stephen Austin’s top 10 returnees. Southwestern Oklahoma averaged 370 yards of total offense in 2011 (and gave up about 370 yards a game on defense), but its main bread and butter is the rushing defense, which limited players to 110 yards a contest.

Projected score: Stephen Austin 52, Southwestern Oklahoma State 14


McNeese State at Middle Tennessee State, Thursday, 6:30

McNeese State kicks off its 69th season of football, but it will face a problem familiar to it from previous years. The dean of the Southland Conference thanks to its 40 years in the league, McNeese faces a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. McNeese is 2-12 against FBS schools since the 2000 season. Although the schools have met six times since 1988 in basketball, this is the first meeting for the schools in football. McNeese went 6-5 and finished fourth in the Southland a year ago, and quarterback Jody Stroud (2,009 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago) leads the offense. On defense, senior free safety Malcolm Bronson is shooting for all-league honors for four years in a row. This is the fourth time under Rick Stockstill that Middle Tennessee has opened on a Thursday. MTSU has one returning starter (Josh Walker) on the offensive line, but it also has a new offensive coordinator and co-defensive coordinator.

Projected score: Middle Tennessee State 49, McNeese State 7


Nicholls State at Oregon State, Saturday, 2:00

Nicholls State has already had one challenge on its plate this week. Thanks to Hurricane Isaac and its Category 1 status, Nicholls had to suspend activities leading up to the game. This means Nicholls may be even less prepared than usual for its matchup with its Pac-12 Conference opponent out of the FBS. Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs was an assistant coach at OSU during the Air Express days of the team (1985-1990). Otherwise the Beavers don’t have much in common with their first-time opponent. Oregon State finished 3-9 overall and 3-6 in the Pac-12. Nicholls opened up last season with a 42-0 shutout of Evangel, and it was all downhill from there on the way to a 1-10 season. This

could be a one-sided contest.

Projected score: Oregon State 56, Nicholls State 7


Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, Saturday, 6:00

The Hugh Freeze era begins at Ole Miss as the Rebels welcome Central Arkansas to campus for a first-week contest. This is the first meeting between these schools and not a lot of experience comes back in the stat column for either squad. Ole Miss rusher Jeff Scott (116 carries, 529 yards, six touchdowns) leads the Rebel pack, along with Randall Mackey (83-180, one touchdown). You can see the drop off fairly fast. Central Arkansas runner Jackie Hinton (145 carries, 673 yards) had four touchdowns last year, but short-yardage rusher Terence Bobo (74-276) also had four scores. This game could be closer than most of the other Southland games this first week, but Ole Miss should still prevail.

Projected score: Ole Miss 38, Central Arkansas 17


Lamar at Louisiana, Saturday, 6:00

The 12th annual Herbert Heymann Classic, also billed as the battle for the “Sabine Shoe”, gets underway as these teams meet for the first time since 1989. Lamar just picked up football once again following the 2010 campaign. It is the 34th meeting between the two schools, with the Ragin Cajuns holding a 22-11 lead in the overall series. Lamar has a 9-13 combined record over the past two seasons, including a 4-7 mark one year ago. Louisiana has a 62-37-5 record in home openers over the past century of football. Thirteen starters and every specialist return from the 2011 team that captured the R+T New Orleans Bowl. Lamar likely won’t know what hit it, but at least these schools are playing again.

Projected score: Louisiana 48, Lamar 7


Northwestern State at Texas Tech, Saturday, 6:00

Like Nicholls State, Northwestern State found its preparations somewhat hampered by the approach of Isaac. Northwestern State elected to leave for Lubbock on Wednesday to avoid the aftereffects of the storm, but it may have run into an even bigger storm. Northwestern State doesn’t shy away from tough competition (games against Houston, Baylor and Air Force come to mind here), and it won’t get any easier here. Tech quarterback Seth Doege was 40-for-44 in a game against New Mexico last year, and facing a less-experienced team like Northwestern State might spell field day. Northwestern State finished 5-6 a year ago and it does have 20 starters returning, and it also has a number of preseason All-Americans. Texas Tech was 5-7 a year ago, including a 41-38 upset of Oklahoma.

Projected score: Texas Tech 42, Northwestern State 21


Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri, Saturday, 6:00

Before Missouri moves into the Southeastern Conference full-time, the Tigers will get a taste of Cajun competition. Southeastern Louisiana finished 3-8 a year ago, including a 63-6 drubbing of Savannah State and a season-ending 31-14 win over Nicholls State. Defensive back Robert Alford has a chance to become the first SE Louisiana player since 1970 to be invited to the Senior Bowl, as he is on the preseason watch list. Otherwise, this game could be ugly. Missouri finished 8-5 overall, including a 41-24 victory over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. The Tigers are breaking in a new quarterback in junior James Franklin, but returning tailback Kendial Lawrence should help Missouri adjust.

Projected score: Missouri 49, Southeastern Louisiana 7


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns