Sam Houston State visits Northwestern State Saturday at 3 p.m. with a chance to claim a share of its second consecutive Southland Conference championship.
The Bearkats, who raced to an undefeated record through their seven conference games to claim an outright title last year, need a win to finish 6-1 and tie Central Arkansas for the championship this year. The Bears have already clinched at least a share of the title and locked up the Southland's automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Playoffs by virtue of its 24-20 win over Sam Houston in Conway Sept. 22.
A win by the Demons against Sam Houston this Saturday gives UCA an outright championship. UCA finished conference play last week with a 35-14 win over the Demons and close the regular season at home against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 17, the same day Sam Houston visits Texas A&M.
In other conference action this coming Saturday, Nicholls State is at Lamar at 3 p.m. and Stephen F. Austin visits Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. McNeese State plays a non-conference game at Texas-San Antonio at 4 p.m.
Week 11 Matchups: Sam Houston State and Northwestern State are meeting for the 35th time Saturday when they collide in Natchitoches ... the Demons hold a 19-15 advantage though the Bearkats have won four of the last six meetings, including 43-17 last year in Huntsville ... the Demons claimed a 23-20 decision in 2010, the last time the game was played at Turpin Stadium.
Lamar and Nicholls State play Saturday for just the fifth time ... the Cardinals lead 3-1 after last year's 34-26 win in Thibodaux ... Nicholls only win against Lamar came in 1983, when the won 21-14 at home.
Stephen F. Austin and Southeastern Louisiana will play for the 16th time ... SFA holds a 9-5-1 edge and has won the last four games in the series, including 28-20 last year in Nacogdoches ... the last win by the Lions came in 2007 when they won 21-3 in Hammond.
McNeese State steps out of conference Saturday to visit Texas-San Antonio at the Alamodome ... it's the second meeting between the schools ... the Cowboys won 24-21 last year in Lake Charles ... UTSA was a member of the Southland Conference from 1991 through 2012, but its second-year football program never played a game in the league.
Bearkats, Demons Selected as Southland TV Wild Card: With Sam Houston State trying to secure a second consecutive Southland Conference championship, the Bearkats' game Saturday at Northwestern State was selected to fill the first of two wild card games on the Southland Conference Television Network.
Randy McIlvoy and Shea Walker will call the action in the Northwestern State vs. Central Arkansas game. They'll be joined by Erin Cofiell on the sideline. Fans can watch the game on the new Southland Conference Digital Network's free mobile and tablet apps for iPhone and Android, and the conference's website, Southland.org. Visit Southland.org/television for a list of affiliates. The network has not yet decided which game it will televise Nov. 17.
Two Southland Teams Ranked in FCS Top 25 Polls: Sam Houston State continues its climb in both FCS polls, checking in at No. 3 this week in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls. The Bearkats have moved up one spot each of the last four weeks after losses among top-five teams. Central Arkansas stayed pat at No. 13 in the FCS Coaches poll, but slipped one spot in the Sports Network poll to No. 14. Appalachian State leapfrogged the Bears after it upset top-ranked Georgia Southern last Saturday.
Sam Houston and UCA are the only Southland teams in the polls this week though McNeese State is receiving votes in both polls. The Bearkats, who were the preseason No. 1 team in the Sports Network poll and started the year No. 2 in the coaches' poll, have been ranked in the top 10 all season.
Top Performances in Week 10: Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders toted the ball nine times for 146 yards and two touchdowns ... his 71-yard scoring run was the longest of his career and marked his eighth touchdown run of more than 50 yards ... he is now tied for No. 2 on the Southland's touchdown list with 52, No. 3 with 49 rushing touchdowns and No. 6 with 3,541 career rushing yards.
Sam Houston State senior linebacker Darius Taylor totaled 10 tackles, including two for loss, to help lead a Bearkat defense that posted Sam Houston's second shutout of the season, holding Southeastern Louisiana to just 224 yards of total offense.
Sam Houston defensive back Kenneth Jenkins blocked a Southeastern Louisiana field goal attempt and returned it 60 yards for a second-quarter touchdown ... it was the fifth kick block for Sam Houston this season.
Sam Houston Pitches Second Conference Shutout of Season: Sam Houston State's 70-0 shutout victory over Southeastern Louisiana was its second shutout of a conference opponent this season. The Bearkats also beat Nicholls State 41-0 on Oct. 13.
That ties a Southland Conference record, marking the ninth time a Southland team has blanked two conference opponents in the same year. A Southland team had not shut out two conference opponents since 2000 when Troy beat Stephen F. Austin 6-0 and Jacksonville State 28-0.
The Southland season record for overall shutouts in a season is four set by Louisiana Tech in 1973 when they beat Louisiana-Lafayette (23-0), Texas-Arlington (44-0), Louisiana-Monroe (40-0) and Western Kentucky (34-0). Three other teams have shut out three opponents in a season, including Louisiana Tech in 1972, Arkansas State in 1975 and McNeese State in 1985.
Around the Southland
Northwestern State: The Demons lost 35-14 at No. 13/13 Central Arkansas last week ... Northwestern State needed to win in its three remaining home games to have a shot at the conference championship ... the Demons lost to a nationally ranked team for the sixth consecutive time since their 24-19 upset of the then 22nd-rated Bears on the same field in 2010 ... it was UCA's 10th straight home win since that contest.
QB Brad Henderson has thrown only two interceptions in his last 336 attempts, dating back to last season and both of those were off the hands of his receivers ... this season he has 273 attempts with two pickoffs ... he obliterated the school record for pass attempts without an interception, posting 207 consecutive straight until that ended against McNeese State Sept. 29 ... his second came in the first quarter against Lamar, but he is currently on a streak of 105 consecutive passes without a misfire ... Northwestern plays host to No. 3/3 Sam Houston State this week.
The Demons are 4-0 at Turpin Stadium and it's the first time since 2004 they have won their first four home dates ... that team won the Southland title after going 6-0 at home ... Northwestern has 19-15 series edge against Sam Houston State, but the Bearkats won 43-17 last year in Huntsville on its way to a league title and appearance in the national title game ... the Demons have their eyes on their first winning season since 2008 ... they will need to win Saturday and again Nov. 17 at Stephen F. Austin.
Sam Houston State: The Bearkats have a chance to win their second consecutive Southland Conference championship with a win over Northwestern State on Saturday ... it would be the first time in their history they have been able to do that ... they have four titles to their credit, sharing titles in 1991, 2001 and 2004 before winning its first outright title last year ... if they can beat the Demons, it would be a shared title with Central Arkansas, who beat Sam Houston 24-20 Sept. 22 in Conway.
Walter Payton award candidate Timothy Flanders toted the ball nine times for 146 yards and two touchdowns for his 21st career 100-yard game ... his 71-yard scoring run was the longest of his career and marked his eighth touchdown run of more than 50 yards ... he is now tied for No. 2 on the Southland's touchdown list with 52, No. 3 with 49 rushing touchdowns and No. 6 with 3,541 career rushing yards.
QB Brian Bell became Sam Houston State's all-time winningest quarterback ... a starter since SHSU's third game of the 2010 season, Bell has directed the Bearkats to 26 wins ... Ronnie Choate played in 25 victories for Sam Houston from 1956 to 1959 ... Bell stands as Sam Houston's all-time leader in career TD passes (42) and ranks No. 2 at Sam Houston in career passing yards (5,094) and total offense (5,887) ... Rhett Bomar (2007-08) holds both records with 5,964 passing and 6,160 total offense.
The 70-0 victory over Southeastern Louisiana marked Sam Houston's second shutout this season and the defense's third in two years ... the 70 points are the most for the Bearkats in a Southland Conference game ... Sam Houston defeated Nicholls State 69-17 in 1999 ... the scoring output marked Sam Houston's fifth highest point total ever ... the school record is 83 points in a shutout of Brooke Medical in 1949 ... since Willie Fritz took over as coach at Sam Houston, the Bearkats stand 27-8 ... the 27 victories mark the most by any Sam Houston football team in a three-year period in the Bearkats 97 seasons of play.