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Southland Conference Power Rankings: Colonels open in top spot


Nicholls quarterback Chase Fourcade is the reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year. Fourcade accounted for 3,589 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. [Photo by Nicholls athletics]


Editors note: The college football season gets underway this weekend, and Press Pass Sports is releasing its first of a weekly power ranking poll for the Southland Conference


1. Nicholls (0-0): The defending Southland Co-Champions received all 20 first-place votes in the preseason poll, and came in at No. 11 in the AFCA poll. The Colonels and reigning Southland Conference Player of the Year in QB Chase Fourcade, open the season at Big 12 foe Kansas State at 3 p.m. Saturday.


2. Central Arkansas (0-0):It was an uncharacteristic 6-5 season in 2018 for the Bears, however, with plenty of experience returning 2019 looks to be shaping up for a big season. UCA opens the year on the road against Western Kentucky on Saturday.


3. Incarnate Word (0-0): Head coach Eric Morris and his staff took UIW from one-win team in 2017, to a six-win team who earned a share of the Southland title in 2018.

Expectation are high for this season when Morris’ squad opens with crosstown rival UTSA on Saturday.


4. Sam Houston State (0-0): Coming in at No. 23, in the preseason Top 25, Sam Houston State has now been ranked in eight straight preseason polls.

The Bearkats went 6-5 a year ago, missing out on the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2010. The good news is, they do return 41 letterman.


5. Lamar (0-0): Starting last year at 1-4, the Cardinals caught fire, closing the season on six-game win streak, and earning an NCAA FCS playoff spot.

The 2019 Lamar team will have big holes to fill on both sides of the ball. The Cardinals open the year with Bethel College on Thursday.


6. McNeese (0-0): The Cowboys brought in former University of Texas offensive coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert as their new head coach. Gilbert takes over a program that was 6-5 last season. Look for quarterback Cody Orgeron to make an impact.


7. Abilene Christian (0-0): The Wildcats are making progression under third-year head coach Adam Dorrel. Dorrel received a five-year contract extension after leading ACU to its first winning Division I season in 2018. The Wildcats went 6-5 and have even higher expectations in 2019.


8. Southeast Louisiana (0-0): The Lions are hoping to bounce back after a rough 4-7 season. The stumble came late in the year of 2018, when SLU dropped its last 3 of 4. The Lions open the 2019 season against Jacksonville State on Thursday night.


9. Stephen F. Austin (0-0): Athletic Director Ryan Ivey created a huge buzz when he hired Colby Carthel as the new head football coach of the Lumberjacks. Carthel brings a winning tradition to a struggling program. In six seasons at Texas A&M-Commerce, Carthel went 59-18 winning three Lone Star Conference titles and leading the Lions to the 2017 NCAA Division II national championship.


10. Northwest State (0-0): The Demons ended last season at 5-6, but did finish strong winning three of their final four games. With a senior-driven team, head coach Brad Laird wants to see even bigger things this season.


11.Houston Baptist (0-0): Quarterback Bailey Zappe is ready for a huge year. As a sophomore last season, Zappe set school records with 252 completions, 436 attempts and 2,812 yards. But for the Huskies to rebound off a 1-10 year, they have to mend a defense that allowed 482 yards a game.


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