Stephen F. Austin Football

FB: Southland Conference Power Rankings - Week 6

October 3, 2017
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Remember when Northwestern State won their first league game in almost two years a couple weeks back?

Thanks to the surging Central Arkansas Bears, Sam Houston State finally dropped their first league game in almost two years. Hell, it was their first regular season loss of any kind since McNeese knocked off the Bearkats in November of 2015.

But as the Battle of the Piney Woods looms, we have a new team atop the rankings. Here's where everyone stands:

These are not standings, but rather, an indication of weekly momentum. Follow us all season as we reveal our weekly rankings each Tuesday. Be sure to sign up for a free account right here and join the conversation below.


1. Central Arkansas

2017 record: 3-1 | Last week's rank: 2

People quickly forget that Central Arkansas was in a position to win the Southland Conference title a year ago when they walked into Huntsville as one of two undefeated teams in their battle with Sam Houston State. They lost then but managed some revenge this weekend.

I'm not saying they waltz to the title now, but UCA should be favored in every game from here to the playoffs. Circle the October 28 contest with McNeese, though.

Coming off a bye week, this game with Sam Houston State was one they had to have. They got it and UCA takes the top spot for the first time this season. If they have it their way, they won't be giving it up.

2. Sam Houston State

2017 record: 3-1 | Last week's rank: 1

Until last year's undefeated team, losing an early-season contest was a Bearkat tradition. There is no reason to panic in Huntsville where the best football is typically played in December. They have a favorable schedule to close out the year, avoiding McNeese entirely, where their hardest game might be this weekend in the Battle of the Piney Woods - one they will be expected to handle with relative ease.

This is a playoff team, regardless of what Central Arkansas does, and barring an epic surprise, they'll be back in the thick of the national FCS conversation by the time East Texas has its first freeze.

3. McNeese

2017 record: 4-1 | Last week's rank: 3

They're clearly the third best team in the Southland through the first month or so of the season. The falloff from these three to the remaining eight is steep and it was demonstrated this past weekend in McNeese's epic 35-0 take down of Stephen F. Austin.

The Cowboys put on a rushing clinic, a bit uncharacteristic for a team that often passes with ease, and yet it only makes this team look ten times more scary for opponents that should realize this is the ultimate complete football team. The McNeese defense has played absolutely lights out in keeping their past two opponents out of the endzone entirely. A win over Central Arkansas later this month could create a three-way tie between these top three atop the Southland Conference.

4. Nicholls

2017 record: 3-2 | Last week's rank: 4

So far, they seem to be the best of the next-level. Nicholls knocked around a bad Lamar team this weekend in a 41-14 victory on the road to rebound from their humiliating defeat in Huntsville. The win at McNeese continues to look more impressive by the week and the Colonels will have another opportunity for a quality win on the 14th when they host ACU.

First, they'll get Northwestern State, who got handled pretty effectively by Southeastern this past weekend. Tim Rebowe and company should keep their winning ways going for at least another week.

5. Southeastern Louisiana

2017 record: 2-3 | Last week's rank: 7

I get that Southeastern hasn't done anything remarkably impressive yet, but they leapfrog SFA and ACU this week since, at least as long as they've been playing bottom-feeders the last two weeks, there's been more good than bad.

There are plenty of folks who still think this is a pretty good team and if they could figure out how to get some consistent production from their passing attack (this last week was a positive step in that direction) I would agree. Fortunately, the schedule continues to be relatively favorable for the Lions, as they'll face Incarnate Word this weekend in an opportunity to win a third-straight.

6. Abilene Christian

2017 record: 2-3 | Last week's rank: 6

A week after losing in ugly fashion at home to SFA, the Wildcats rebounded with an impressive mauling of Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The offense they've lacked all season suddenly awoke and quarterback Dallas Sealey had one of the better games of his career a week after one of his worst.

Incarnate Word still doesn't feel as absolutely terrible as they did at the early part of the season, but certainly it was a game ACU needed to win. Now it gets really hard, though: McNeese, Nicholls on the road, and Southeastern. A single win in that stretch will be progress for this program.

7. Stephen F. Austin

2017 record: 2-3 | Last week's rank: 5

Coming off the nice win in Abilene, SFA had a chance to vault their program into contention before the Battle of the Piney Woods. McNeese handed it back to them right in the jaw.

Starting quarterback Foster Sawyer (who will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear) was desperately missed and while McNeese's duo of running backs had a field day, SFA's new quarterback Jake Blumrick struggled mightily. Watching the difference between the rushing attack that McNeese put on the field versus what ACU did the week before, and the discrepancy in SFA's ability to stop them, proves more than anything that the athleticism of those top three teams is just a mile better than everyone else right now.

SFA gets Sam Houston State this weekend and Central Arkansas the week after. October could be rough in Nacogdoches.

8. Houston Baptist

2017 record: 1-3 | Last week's rank: 8

They got a week off and will be greeted on Saturday by none other than the newly crowned top team on this list. Central Arkansas will travel to Houston to take on the Huskies and we expect they'll deny this veteran team their first conference win of the season yet again.

The Huskies can play defense but right now their offensive side is a mess. It will be their first opportunity of the season to play in front a home crowd (which might help) and they can hope for a UCA letdown after their monster win over Sam Houston State.

It probably won't matter.

9. Northwestern State

2017 record: 1-3 | Last week's rank: 9

The Demons did something no other team has been able to do all year: manage to give Southeastern Louisiana respectable passing numbers. In by far the most balanced game of the season for SELA, the Lions plowed the Demons with 294 yards on the ground and 286 through the air. Of course, a handful of big plays obviously helped, but the Northwestern State defense continues to look atrocious.

It's a shame, too, because this team has some offensive weapons that are fun to watch. This little catch and run by Jaylen Watson is just a sample of what they could be capable of and we've all seen what Bobby Chan-Chan can do on the outside for a couple years now. Right now, it just isn't enough.

The bottom three seem to clearly be the bottom three right now.

10. Incarnate Word

2017 record: 0-4 | Last week's rank: 10

In the battle of teams who had each lost to SFA in their previous match, UIW was soundly smacked around by Abilene Christian. The former DII foes are far from equal in their adjustments to the DI level and Incarnate Word will need to play some inspired football if they're going to steal a few wins between now and late December.

The best opportunity they'll have to pick up their first victory is coming up in a couple weeks when they host Lamar. Drop the games against Southeastern this coming weekend and that one and I'm not sure the Cardinals win a game in 2017.

11. Lamar

2017 record: 1-4 | Last week's rank: 11

They're the worst team in the Southland Conference right now, period. They had a competitive slugfest with Northwestern State to open conference play but it's been straight south since then. They get a week off before they have to play Incarnate Word and there's a solid chance that the loser of that game becomes the second-straight winless team in the Southland Conference (joining Northwestern State's effort a year ago).

They still have McNeese, Sam Houston State, and Central Arkansas all ahead. It's going to be a long season of rebuilding in Beaumont.

FB: Southland Conference Power Rankings - Week 6

nacluth
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Big thumbs up. This fits what I think. I'm having a hard time seeing a way up from here, but here's for hoping.
Ryan
Kinnaird Guitars
BigJack85
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I see us as 6 or 7. So this is about correct. A win over Sammie (ain't happening) would vault us to 3 or 4.
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