McNeese State (5-2, 3-1 Southland) at Northwestern State (4-4, 2-2 Southland)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Turpin Stadium (15,971), Natchitoches
SERIES: McNeese State leads 42-20-1.
STAT THAT MATTERS: Eleven of the previous 16 games between the Cowboys and Demons have been decided by a touchdown or less.
NOTES: Northwestern State hasn’t had much luck against its in-state rivals over the years. The Cowboys have owned the all-time series, winning their previous nine matchups against the Demons. Add on the fact that the visiting Cowboys will enter Natchitoches coming off two consecutive victories against Southland opponents, and it’s safe to say McNeese State is the early favorite on Saturday. The Demons will look to reverse their momentum after falling to Central Arkansas last weekend 58-35 in a contest where Zach Adkins threw for 245 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Defensively, the Demons’ rushing attack was gashed against the Bears, surrendering 306 yards and a whopping seven touchdowns on the ground. They’ll be looking to avoid a similar result this weekend.
Incarnate Word (1-7, 1-4 Southland) at Nicholls State (0-9, 0-5 Southland)
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: John L. Guidry Stadium (10,500), Thibodaux
STAT THAT MATTERS: Nicholls State and Incarnate Word rank as the two-worst scoring offenses and scoring defenses in the Southland Conference.
NOTES: One could say that Saturday is the day Nicholls State football fans have been waiting months for. When Incarnate Word travels to Thibodaux this weekend, John L. Guidry Stadium will host a matchup between two squads that have played 17 contests in 2014 and have one victory combined. To put in perspective how poorly the Colonels have performed this season, last Saturday’s 10-point loss against Houston Baptist was the lowest margin of defeat thus far through nine contests. This weekend could be the Colonels’ final chance to come away from the season with a victory, though no fan should expect any high-scoring affair.
Grambling State (5-3, 5-0 SWAC) at Texas Southern (5-3, 3-3 SWAC)
WHEN: 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: BBVA Compass Stadium (22,039), Houston
TV: TSU TV
STAT THAT MATTERS: Grambling State junior QB Johnathan Williams continues to be a dual-threat option at signal caller, scoring three passing and two rushing touchdowns in his last contest against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
NOTES: Grambling just continues to roll in SWAC play, claiming another victim two weekends ago in Robinson Stadium. The Tigers welcomed the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff to Grambling, and head coach Broderick Fobbs’ club showed little mercy. Junior quarterback Johnathan Williams had a career outing, completing 19-of-27 pass attempts for 377 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Grambling converted 5-of-9 third down conversions and averaged nearly 14 yards per pass in a 63-39 rout. The Tigers will look to hold on to their momentum and advance to 6-0 in conference play when they travel to Houston to battle Texas Southern on Saturday.
Western Kentucky (3-4, 1-3 C-USA) at Louisiana Tech (5-3, 4-0 C-USA)
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Joe Aillet Stadium (27,717), Ruston
SERIES: Tech leads 2-1.
STAT THAT MATTERS: Louisiana Tech’s secondary has intercepted eight passes in its last three contests.
NOTES: There likely will be one game plan for Western Kentucky on Saturday afternoon in Ruston: throw, throw and throw some more. The Hilltoppers currently lead Conference USA in passing yards per contest, accumulating 410.1 per weekend. It will be an aerial attack that will be Louisiana Tech’s secondary’s most potent challenge of the year. The Bulldogs’ pass defense currently ranks No. 5 in C-USA, allowing 225.1 yards per game. Tech certainly has been the most impactful secondary in the conference regarding turnovers as it leads the C-USA with 12 interceptions through eight games. Considering Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty, the conference’s leading passer, has only thrown four interceptions as opposed to 24 touchdowns, the Bulldogs will hope to get to the senior passer early and often to force poor throws.