Some FCS programs would rather not be on the playoff bubble, while several are just happy to be in the discussion. Nicholls is one of those programs that would love to make the playoffs … so being on the bubble isn't a bad thing at all.
So let's take a look at what Nicholls needs to do next week, and how it helped itself today:
NICHOLLS (8-2) IN A NUTSHELL
TODAY'S RESULT: Went on the road and knocked off Stephen F. Austin 34-13.
HOW DID TODAY HELP/HURT?: Nicholls is doing exactly what it needs to do to continue to make its case. The Colonels had to be perfect the rest of the way after that 49-point loss to a Sam Houston State team that won't even win the Southland. This week's game was never really in doubt and now its time to get ready for a tough road trip this week.
WHAT'S NEXT?: at Southeastern Louisiana
THE SKINNY?: The Colonels need to win next week against a decent Southeastern Louisiana team (5-5) and then they are flashing a 9-win resume in front of the FCS Playoff committee. That is going to be very, very difficult for the committee to ignore.
But a loss this week? Even with eight wins, it'd be tough to see the Colonels getting in because it would have a loss to SELa, and a very ugly loss to Sam Houston State — who in turn had a relatively ugly loss to Central Arkansas shortly after. The only signature win would be by 2 points over McNeese in August.
One good thing for Nicholls, that win over McNeese? It all but eliminates McNeese from the playoff discussion — even if it finishes with 8 wins. Its just tough to see the Southland get four teams, but three is certainly possible IF the win total is there.
IF IT MAKES PLAYOFFS, WHO COULD THEY FACE?: Probably a game against a Missouri Valley team like Western Illinois or Illinois State, or possibly a game against a Southern Conference team like Samford or Ohio Valley Conference team like Austin Peay. We'll see.