(STATS) – Coming off a 2016 season in which their 10 wins over FBS programs tied for the fourth most in a season, FCS programs hope to make a mark again in 2017.
Southland Conference teams are involved in 10 of the nearly 100 matchups. They have posted at least one FBS win in five of the last six seasons.
Here’s a look at this year’s matchups involving Southland teams:
The matchups (10) – Abilene Christian vs. New Mexico (Sept. 2) and Colorado State (Sept. 9); Central Arkansas vs. Kansas State (Sept. 2); Houston Baptist vs. Texas State (Sept. 2); Incarnate Word vs. Fresno State (Sept. 2); Lamar vs. North Texas (Sept. 2); Nicholls vs. Texas A&M (Sept. 9); Northwestern State vs. Louisiana Tech (Sept. 2); Southeastern Louisiana vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 2); Stephen F. Austin vs. SMU (Sept. 2)
Glamour game – Central Arkansas at Kansas State: K-State was trending upward late last season, finishing 9-4 and beating Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl with a young nucleus. But UCA had one of its best seasons on the FCS level, winning 10 games in coach Steve Campbell’s third campaign, including an in-state FBS win over Arkansas State. Quarterback Hayden Hildebrand and a good group of running backs will work behind an experienced line, which could trouble coach Bill Snyder’s squad.
Upset alert – Abilene Christian at New Mexico. This game gives the Wildcats the chance to show Adam Dorrel was one of the better coaching hires of the offseason. He went 76-8 and won three Division II national titles in six seasons at Northwest Missouri State. In his Abilene debut against the Lobos, his team will led by junior quarterback Dallas Sealey and senior outside linebacker Sam Denmark.
Notable – The last two Southland champs, McNeese and Sam Houston State, are not playing FBS opponents. … Mike Schultz will make his debut as Lamar’s coach at North Texas on Sept. 2. … Colorado State will be opening a new on-campus stadium when it hosts Abilene Christian in Fort Collins. … Northwestern State beat Louisiana Tech 30-27 on a field goal as time expired in their most recent meeting in 2014. The Demons will again visit their oldest and nearest rival for the 78th all-time meeting. Tech leads the series 53-20-5. … While Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana-Lafayette are meeting for the 39th time, it’s their first matchup since the visiting Lions blanked the Cajuns 7-0 on Sept. 12, 1981. … Nicholls lost to two FBS opponents (Georgia and South Alabama) last season by a combined three points. … SMU won its two prior matchups with Stephen F. Austin in opposite fashion, edging the Lumberjacks 31-23 in 2009 followed by a 52-0 rout in 2012. … Abilene Christian-New Mexico, Houston Baptist-Texas State, Incarnate Word-Fresno State and Nicholls-Texas A&M are first-time matchups. … After the Fresno State game on Sept. 2, Incarnate Word will make a trip back to California to play Sacramento State on Sept. 9.