THIBODAUX — A fresh start.

That’s how Nicholls State and Northwestern State view their Southland Conference opener Saturday in John L. Guidry Stadium.

Both teams enter the 3 p.m. contest at 1-2 after consecutive losses to FBS opponents and both know getting off to a good start in the league is of utmost importance.

“It’s a new season, a fresh start, and a chance to get everything pointing in a positive direction if we can achieve our goal of winning this game,” Northwestern State coach Bradley Dale Peveto said. “We’ve been through as demanding a three-game stretch as any FCS team in the country, and now we’re playing for keeps with the Southland Conference season beginning Saturday.”

“We’re very excited about getting into conference play,” Nicholls coach Charlie Stubbs said. “It’s kind of like the preseason is over, and now it really starts to count.”

The game will be televised by WBTR (Cable Ch. 19 in Baton Rouge).

The Demons (1-2) opened with a 24-23 comeback win over Delta State before falling at LSU (49-3) and SMU (40-7). Nicholls, meanwhile, fell to Western Michigan 38-7 and Louisiana-Lafayette 38-21 after routing NAIA Evangel 42-0.

Nicholls held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 280 total yards. ULL scored touchdowns on a blocked field goal return and an interception return.

The Colonels have won three of the past four meetings, including the last two in Thibodaux.

“Our conference is tough, and Nicholls has been a thorn in our side,” Peveto said. “We’ve beaten them only twice in the last eight years.

“They played a very competitive game at Lafayette on Saturday, and we’ll have our hands full down there in Thibodaux.”

During halftime, Nicholls will recognize the 2011 Hall of Fame Class that includes Tommy Broom (football), Darrell Hebert (baseball), Reed Pere’ (football), Randy Raymond (football/tennis) and Matthew Shelton (soccer).

Nicholls comes into the game sporting the FCS’ 12th ranked defense, giving up 275.3 yards per outing. The Colonels have caused eight turnovers in the three games, with Siegan Vergenal forcing three fumbles and Chika Madu two.

For the Demons, junior quarterback Brad Henderson has guided the offense after replacing preseason All-SLC honoree Paul Harris at halftime of the season opener.

Leading the offense are Henderson with 361 yards and a touchdown, and tight end Justin Aldredge has 10 receptions for 155 yards and a score.

Safety Brashard Booker heads the defense with 23 tackles.