The Southland Conference may have lost nearly half of its FCS teams this last offseason, but the league hasn’t lost its offensive firepower.
Known for its thrilling, shootout style of games, the Southland is home to three of the better quarterbacks in the subdivision. Southeastern Louisiana University’s Cole Kelley is the defending Walter Payton Award winner, Incarnate Word’s Cameron Ward is the reigning Jerry Rice Award winner, and Nicholls’ Lindsey Scott Jr. is as dynamic of a dual-threat quarterback as there is in the country.
Kelley is continuing to slice up defenses with his big right arm after his dominant spring season. Through five games, he is 164-of-220 for 1,999 yards, 18 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Kelley is third in the FCS in passing yards and passing TDs.
The big man can move as well. Kelley, who is 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, has rushed for 203 yards and seven TDs.
Ward has thrown for 300-plus yards in four of five games. His “down” game was 208 yards and three TDs against Prairie View A&M. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has gone 134-of-218 for 1,638 yards, 16 TDs, and three interceptions.
He’s No. 12 in passing yards and tied for fifth in passing TDs.
Scott is a nightmare to defend for defenses. He is completing 92-of-149 passes for 1,206 yards, 10 TDs, and four interceptions. He also leads Nicholls in rushing yards (538) and rushing TDs (five).
And while the Southland isn’t particularly known for its strong defenses, these guys have gotten it done in the non-conference as well.
Scott threw for a combined 553 yards, four TDs, and one interception against FBS opponents Memphis and Louisiana. Ward threw for 376 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception in an FBS win against Texas State. He also threw for 352 yards and four TDs against the MVFC’s Youngstown State, a 44-41 overtime loss. The 44 points scored on YSU is the most this season, which includes Michigan State. Kelley passed for 495 yards, three scores, and threw two picks against FBS Louisiana Tech.
With five teams leaving the Southland after the spring season and six remaining, some conference opponents are playing twice. While that’s not ideal, it will result in highly entertaining games.
In the spring when SLU, UIW, and Nicholls were on the same field together, the scores were 75-45, 52-45, and 56-45.
UIW plays Nicholls twice this season and SLU once. SLU plays Nicholls twice and UIW once. That (obviously) means Nicholls plays both UIW and SLU twice.
READ: FCS Bracketology
All three are in playoff contention, making the conference schedule model even more enticing. SLU is ranked No. 11 with a 4-0 record against the FCS, UIW is No. 18 with a 4-1 overall record featuring an FBS win, and Nicholls is receiving votes at 2-3 overall and 2-1 against FCS opponents.
SLU handed Nicholls a 58-48 loss last week. Nicholls and UIW square off this weekend.
You won’t want to miss it when these teams, and quarterbacks, are in action against each other. It’ll be hard to find a more entertaining, high-scoring game in the FCS.
NEXT: Week 7 Predictions
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