This Week’s Southland Conference Schedule:
Saturday, Sept. 21
UIW at No. 5 Sam Houston State, 6 p.m.
Southeastern Louisiana at Samford, 2 p.m.
Northwestern State at UAB, 2 p.m.
Langston at Nicholls, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Montana State at Stephen F. Austin, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 13 Central Arkansas at Missouri State, 7 p.m.
Bacone College at Lamar, 7 p.m.
Weber State at No. 12 McNeese State, 7 p.m.
Sam Houston State looks to continue its FCS-best 16 game home winning streak against UIW (Incarnate Word) and two Southland teams take on other strong FCS programs.
McNeese State finds itself 3-0 for the second consecutive season after surviving a scare against Division II West Alabama last Saturday. In the 44-42 victory, Cowboys quarterback Cody Stroud set a school record with 14 consecutive completions and finished the game with a career-best 366 yards and five touchdowns.
McNeese will play host to Weber State this week trying to get to 4-0 for the first time since 2007 when it took an 11-0 record into the FCS playoffs. The Cowboys and Wildcats will play Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Southland Conference was 3-5 for the second consecutive week getting wins from Sam Houston State vs. Texas Southern (55-17), McNeese State vs. West Alabama (44-42) and Stephen F. Austin against McMurry (50-13). Of the five losses, three came against FBS teams with Oklahoma State beating Lamar (59-3), Cincinnati over Northwestern State (66-9) and Louisiana-Lafayette against Nicholls (70-7). Southeastern Louisiana dropped a 34-26 decision at No. 6/6 South Dakota State while Central Arkansas lost 24-23 when Tennessee-Martin blocked what would have been a game-winning field goal by the Bears.
Two-time FCS runner-up Sam Houston State is the Southland Conference’s top-ranked team for the fourth consecutive week.
The Bearkats remained No. 5 in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches’ polls after their 55-17 win over Texas Southern last week.
Sam Houston opened the season as high as No. 3 in the preseason polls, but slipped a position after its 74-0 win over Houston Baptist in the opener and another spot after falling 65-28 at Texas A&M in week two.
McNeese State continued to climb in the polls this week, peaking at No. 12 in the Sports Network poll and No. 13 in the coaches’ poll. The Cowboys were No. 13 in the Sports Network poll and No. 18 in the coaches’ poll a week ago.
Central Arkansas, which was a blocked field goal away from a win at Tennessee-Martin dropped in both polls, slipping from No. 8 to No. 13 in the Sports Network poll and from No. 7 to No. 14 in the coaches poll after the 24-23 loss to the Skyhawks. Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State continue to receive votes in the Sports Network poll.
The Southland Conference is playing just 12 FBS teams this year compared to 16 in 2012. Since 2000, Southland teams have 20 wins against the FBS, including 10 wins against the Sun Belt Conference, five against Independents, two against Conference USA and one each against the Mid-American, Mountain West and American Athletic conferences.
There were two FCS upsets against FBS teams in week three, giving the FCS 13 wins against the FBS this season. The Southland has accounted for two of the wins with Nicholls getting past Western Michigan 27-23 in week two and McNeese State handing South Florida at 53-21 defeat in week one.
Sam Houston State senior linebacker Tanner Brock was named the defensive player of the week after he recorded seven tackles and two tackles for loss in leading the defense in a 55-17 win over Texas Southern last Saturday. The senior from Copperas Cove, Texas, sacked the quarterback twice for losses totaling 10 yards. In the first half, Sam Houston limited Texas Southern to minus-23 yards rushing and 29 yards passing.
The Bearkats caused four fumbles and recovered three with each turnover setting up the team’s first three touchdowns.
Walter Payton Award candidate Timothy Flanders now owns 31 Sam Houston State records and five Southland Conference marks. His latest conference record came last Saturday when he scored two touchdowns against Texas Southern to give him 61 touchdowns in his career. That broke a tie with Central Arkansas’ Brent Grimes who had 59 during his career from 2006-09.
Flanders’ other Southland career record is for rushing touchdowns (57). He also holds season records for rushing yards (1,644), rushing touchdowns (22) and total touchdowns (24), all in 2011. The conference next record within his grasp is the career rushing record of 4,694 set by Texas State’s Claude Mathis from 1994-97. Flanders has 4,563 career rushing yards and is just 132 yards from becoming the Southland’s all-time leading rusher. in three games this season, he has 329 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 47 carries in limited action. He also has one reception for 33 yards and a touchdown, which was part of his 203 all-purpose yards at Texas A&M in week two.
Tickets for public sale to the 2014 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game, to be held at Toyota Stadium on Jan. 4, 2014, have been sold, and in fact, all available tickets were purchased within an hour of going on sale. The only remaining tickets are those being held for the two teams playing in the championship game.
This season’s championship game will be televised live nationally on ESPN2. The past two championship games at the former FC Dallas Stadium have been played in front of capacity crowds of 20,586 in 2012 and 21,411 this past year. In 2010’s inaugural game in Frisco, Eastern Washington defeated Delaware, 20-19, and in 2011, North Dakota State defeated Sam Houston State, 17-6. Last season, North Dakota State repeated as champion in a rematch with Sam Houston State, winning 39-13.
Three of the four institutions that joined the Southland Conference in July field football teams. Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist and Incarnate Word are spending the 2013 football season as FCS Independents until they take on a full Southland slate beginning next fall.
This is the first season that Houston Baptist as fielded a football team while Abilene Christian and UIW are beginning their transition from Division II. ACU and UIW will not be eligible to win a Southland Conference championship during their transition periods. Pending NCAA approval, they will become fully eligible for the 2017 football season. The three, along with the University of New Orleans, extend full Southland membership to 14 institutions.
Sam Houston set a school record with their 16th consecutive home-field victory with a 55-17 win over Texas Southern last Saturday. That is the longest current streak in the FCS. The former school record was 15 set during the first three years of Bowers Stadium when it opened in 1985.
Quarterback Brian Bell extended his school record career passing total to 6,512 yards and 58 touchdown passes with Saturday’s performance. Bell has completed 20 of 41 passes for 348 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Torrance Williams is the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 164 yards and three touchdowns.
Tickets for Saturday’s 6 p.m. contest with Incarnate Word and for the four remaining Bearkat home games at Bowers Stadium plus the 88th “Battle of the Piney Woods” with SFA at Reliant Stadium Nov. 2 are available now online at www.gobearkats.com.
Fans almost may visit or call the SHSU athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.
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