The Southland Conference title race gained a bit of clarity after last weekend after McNeese defeated No. 14 Nicholls 43-31.
The Cowboys win over the Colonels marked their sixth consecutive win at home over Nicholls and effectively knocked Nicholls out of the SLC title race.
Sam Houston continues to control its destiny following a 24-16 road win over Northwestern State. The Kats meet the upset-minded Cowboys at 4 p.m. Saturday in Huntsville, Texas.
UIW is the only team that could knock the Bearkats out of the conference’s automatic bid.
The Cardinals had a bye week this week and have the advantage of hosting their final two regular season games of the spring.
UIW hosts Northwestern State at 7 p.m. Saturday and would set up a winner-take-automatic bid showdown against Sam Houston with a Cardinals win over the Demons.
Sam Houston would claim the SLC title outright with a win in its final two games, while UIW could secure at least a share of its second conference title in the last three years by winning their final two games.
The automatic bid holds more importance this season, with the FCS playoff field reduced to 16 teams from 24 teams.
10 of the 16 spots in the playoffs will be automatic bids awarded to conference champions leaving only six at-large bids open.
It is reasonable to expect the Southland Conference to receive at least one at-large bid to the playoffs.
If UIW is unable to win both of its final two games and secure the automatic bid, they would have an argument for an at-large bid. However, the Cardinals 75-45 road loss to Nicholls two weeks ago could loom large if UIW and Nicholls each finish with two losses this spring.
Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler would prefer his Kats to win their final two games and enter the FCS playoffs with a high seed and a home game, but the Bearkats have produced a resume worthy of an at-large bid barring a collapse to finish the spring.
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