Non-FBS GOTW: UIW hosts Nicholls with chance to secure third straight Southland title

Photo courtesy UIW Athletics

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Nicholls at No. 4 UIW

When: 3 p.m. Saturday at Gayle & Tom Benson Stadium in San Antonio

Broadcast: ESPN+

The Matchup: The Southland Conference title and automatic bid to the playoffs will be decided in San Antonio on Saturday if UIW defeats Nicholls. However, that’s a big if, especially considering how well the Colonels have played against SLC foes this season. Nicholls will secure the conference title and automatic bid with a win over UIW and a win in one of its two remaining SLC opponents.

There’s more at stake for the Cardinals this week. Sure, UIW wants to win its third consecutive conference title and third straight appearance in the playoffs, but the Cardinals want to host as many playoff games as possible. The less UIW has to leave Texas before the FCS championship game in Frisco, the better. The Cardinals are currently favored to earn one of the top eight seeds in the playoffs, but a loss would knock them out of any chance of hosting more than one round.

The Colonels must win the SLC’s automatic bid to make the playoffs after Nicholls suffered its second loss to an FCS foe against Southeast Missouri last week. Maybe the Colonels were looking ahead to their trip this week, but Nicholls has proven to be a dangerous team this year. The defense has keyed the Colonels success this year, holding conference opponents to an average of eight points per game this season.

But this UIW offense is much closer to the likes of Sacramento State and SEMO, who scored a combined 73 points against Nicholls this season. The key for the UIW offense is the health of starting quarterback Zach Calzada, who has missed the last two weeks with a shoulder injury. Richard Torres has performed well in relief of Calzada the previous two weeks, and both quarterbacks can lead the Cardinals offense to a victory.

X-Factor: While the Nicholls defense has keyed its run through the Southland this season, the Colonels offense must produce against a stout UIW defense that enters the contest, allowing 15.8 points per game this season. The Cardinals defense hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 26 points in a game this year and was tremendous in a 17-7 win over Lamar last week.

Prediction: UIW 27, Nicholls 21

Best of the Rest:

Stephen F. Austin at Tarleton

When: 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville

Broadcast: ESPN+

Prediction: SFA 27, Tarleton 25


East Texas Baptist at Mary Hardin-Baylor

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Crusader Stadium in Belton


Prediction: UMHB 47, ETBU 17


Navarro at Tyler

When: 3 p.m. Saturday at Christus Trinity Mother Francis Rose Stadium in Tyler

Broadcast: TJCApacheAthletics YouTube channel

Prediction: Tyler 31, Navarro 27


Other Texas Non-FBS Games:

Saturday, November 4


Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Prairie View A&M, 2 p.m.

Texas Southern at Jackson State, 2 p.m.

Utah Tech at Abilene Christian, 2 p.m.

Texas A&M-Commerce at Lamar, 3 p.m.


UTPB at Western New Mexico, 1 p.m.

West Texas A&M at Eastern New Mexico, 1 p.m.

Texas A&M-Kingsville at Western Oregon, 3 p.m.

Midwestern State at Angelo State, 6 p.m.


Trinity at Sewanee, Noon

Southwestern at Millsaps, 1 p.m.

Howard Payne at Sul Ross State, 1 p.m.

McMurry at Texas Lutheran, 1 p.m.

Hardin-Simmons at Austin College, 1 p.m.


Texas Wesleyan at Langston, 2 p.m.

Texas College at Wayland Baptist, 2 p.m.

SAGU at Oklahoma Panhandle State, 4 p.m.


Northeastern Oklahoma A&M at Trinity Valley, Noon

Kilgore at Blinn, 3 p.m.

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