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FCS Game of the Week Preview: No. 23 Nicholls State at No. 3 Sam Houston State

The Bearkats look to get off to a good start in Southland Conference play

NCAA Football: Nicholls State at Texas A&M John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, September 22, 2017, 7 p.m. ET

Location: Bowers Stadium, Huntsville, Texas

Where To Watch: ESPNU

Betting Odds: Sam Houston State -12, O/U 73

Odds via sportsbooks monitored by

Sam Houston State has won 12 straight games against conference opponents dating back to 2015. The Bearkats went undefeated in Southland Conference action last year, winning every game by double digits in the process.

They will open their conference slate this year with a tricky test in the Nicholls State Colonels. Nicholls State started the season strong with a win against McNeese State and was tied with Texas A&M in the fourth quarter of their tilt just a few weeks ago. The Colonels may have gone just 5-6 in conference last season, but are a contender to make the postseason in 2016.

Reasons to Like Sam Houston State

Jeremiah Briscoe is probably the best quarterback at the FCS level right now. Briscoe won the Walter Payton Award last season as the best player in FCS and he decided to come back for his senior season after putting out feelers for the NFL Draft. Briscoe threw 57 touchdowns last year and is already off to a strong start this year, throwing for 10.2 yards per pass.

The Bearkats have been able to establish a ground game too. Last season, the lack of a competent ground game killed them in the playoffs, but SHSU has averaged 200 yards on the ground through its first two games this year.

Reasons Not to Like Sam Houston State

This defense is bad, just plain bad. It wasn’t a surprise to see Kyle Lauletta and Richmond carve up the Bearkats defense, but there was no reason for Prairie View to have the success it did against this defense. The Panthers had 499 total yards of offense against the Bearkats and that’s inexcusable.

The kicking game has had its share of woes too. Kicker Tre Honshtein has already missed three extra points this season and is hitting only 60 percent of his field goals. Sam Houston State can’t rely on him for three points and that’s a problem when it comes to covering double digit spreads.

Reasons to Like Nicholls State

The Colonels played Prairie View last week and handled them a lot better than Sam Houston State did. Nicholls State cruised to a 44-13 win and weren’t even tested by the Panthers.

Nicholls State did a good job of limiting Texas A&M’s passing attack and that bodes well for this game. The Aggies could only muster 5.5 yards per pass against the Colonels defense and Briscoe may find it hard to move the ball through the air.

Chase Fouraker has also been one of the most efficient passers in the FCS. He is averaging 10.1 yards per pass attempt so far this season.

Reasons Not to Like Nicholls State

The Colonels managed to go just 2-4 on the road last season and Sam Houston State has one of the better home field advantages in college football. Bowers Stadium will be rocking for this one as it’s the first home game of the year. The Bearkats are 38-2 at home since 2010.


This should be a high scoring, back and forth affair. Both these quarterbacks will be able to pick apart the opposition, while the defenses will be on the back foot the whole game. This will be a one or two possession game and that should give Nicholls State the cover.

Final Score: Sam Houston State 45, Nicholls State 41