FCS Polls: Nicholls moves into Stats Perform Top 25 ahead of first Southeastern meeting of season

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Guidry Stadium at Nicholls
Nicholls hosts Southeastern Louisiana for the first of two regular season meetings Saturday.

Releases from Nicholls and SLU:

After sliding out of the rankings for four weeks, the Nicholls State University football team claimed the No. 25 spot in Monday’s Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll with a total of 62 points. The Southeastern Louisiana University football team is ranked No. 14 in both the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 and the AFCA FCS Coaches Top 25.

The Colonels have won their last two games after starting the season with a pair of losses against FBS programs Memphis and Louisiana. Nicholls entered the 2021 campaign at No. 22 but fell out of the top 25 following a 42-17 setback against the Tigers. Despite a close 27-24 matchup with the Ragin’ Cajuns, who were also ranked in the preseason top 25, the Colonels only received votes for the next three weeks.

Nicholls then posted a 2-0 mark against the FCS with home victories against North Alabama (31-14) and HBU (48-17).

At No. 25, the Colonels joined Southland Conference members Southeastern (No. 14) and UIW (No. 20) to give the league three ranked teams. Nicholls will play both programs over the next two weekends, starting Saturday against SLU at John L. Guidry Stadium. The meeting with the Lions marks the third consecutive time that both teams have been nationally ranked.

The Lions (3-1, 1-0 Southland) maintained their ranking in the Stats Perform media poll and moved up one spot in the coaches poll after Saturday’s 38-35 road win at McNeese in SLU’s Southland Conference opener.

Southeastern held off a late Cowboy rally on the way to its first win in Lake Charles since 2014 and just its third win at McNeese since the program returned in 2003. The Lions finished with 546 total yards in the victory, as senior quarterback Cole Kelley threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for a team-high 65 yards and a score.

Kelley, who was named Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week, connected with CJ Turner, Nick Kovacs and Tim Wilson Jr. on scoring throws, while Taron Jones also found the end zone on the ground. Justin Douglas snagged a one-handed interception to highlight the SLU defensive effort, while Brandon Barbee led the Lions with five tackles. John Graves III, Garrett Crawford, Bryce Cage and Brendon Kelley were all credited with sacks.

Behind an offensive line that has allowed the fewest tackles for loss per game (2.50) in FCS, SLU ranks among the national leaders in total offense (552.5 ypg, 3rd), scoring offense (46.2 ppg, 4th), passing offense (406.5 ypg, 3rd), third down conversion percentage (57.7, 2nd), completion percentage (73.7, 1st), first downs (122, 3rd), red zone offense (1.000, 1st) and pass efficiency (165.85, 8th). The Lions also sit in ninth nationally in red zone defense (66.7).

SLU is one of three Southland schools in the Stats Perform Top 25, along with No. 20 UIW and No. 25 Nicholls. UIW and Nicholls are both among the schools receiving votes in the AFCA Coaches poll.

When No. 14 Southeastern travels to No. 25 Nicholls for Saturday’s noon contest in Thibodaux, it will mark the third straight meeting between the two in-state league rivals that has featured two ranked teams. The game will be televised on Cox Sports Television and ESPN+, while also being heard in the Hammond area on Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/WFPR 1400 AM, as well as online at www.kajun107.net.

Saturday’s game will not be for the historic River Bell trophy, as the River Bell Classic will be held only once in 2021 on Nov. 18 in Hammond.

Stats Perform FCS Top 25
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Prv.
1. Sam Houston (29) 4-0 1,201 1
2. South Dakota State (15) 4-0 1,200 2
3. James Madison (6) 4-0 1,165 3
4. Eastern Washington 5-0 1,091 6
5. North Dakota State 4-0 1,082 5
6. Montana 3-1 936 4
7. UC Davis 5-0 925 8
8. Southern Illinois 4-1 911 7
9. Delaware 3-1 843 9
10. Montana State 4-1 800 11
11. Villanova 3-1 690 12
12. ETSU 5-0 679 13
13. North Dakota 2-2 628 10
14. Southeastern 3-1 605 14
15. Missouri State 3-1 553 16
16. Northern Iowa 3-1 548 15
17. Kennesaw State 3-1 418 20
18. Rhode Island 4-0 352 21
19. Weber State 2-3 348 19
20. UIW 4-1 262 24
21. UT Martin 3-1 253 23
22. New Hampshire 3-2 81 25
23. Stephen F. Austin 3-2 76 NR
24. Jacksonville State 2-3 73 17
25. Nicholls 2-2 62 NR

Others Receiving Votes: VMI 58, Princeton 53, Monmouth 42, South Dakota 42, Mercer 41, Duquesne 38, Central Arkansas 35, Chattanooga 33, Murray State 33, Harvard 27, Jackson State 27, Prairie View 7, Eastern Kentucky 6, William & Mary 4.

AFCS FCS Coaches Top 25
Team (First-place votes) Record Points Prv.
1. Sam Houston (24) 4-0 694 1
2. James Madison (1) 4-0 653 2
3. South Dakota State (1) 4-0 646 3
4. Eastern Washington (2) 5-0 608 6
5. North Dakota State 4-0 601 5
6. Montana 3-1 511 4
7. Southern Illinois 4-1 503 7
8. UC Davis 5-0 492 8
9. Villanova 3-1 454 9
10. Delaware 3-1 453 10
11. Montana State 4-1 402 12
12. Northern Iowa 3-1 376 13
13. East Tennessee State 5-0 357 14
14. Southeastern 3-1 326 15
15. North Dakota 2-2 312 11
16. Missouri State 3-1 286 16
17. Kennesaw State 3-1 230 20
18. Weber State 2-3 206 18
19. Chattanooga 2-2 200 19
20. Rhode Island 4-0 152 23
21. UT Martin 3-1 117 T24
T22. Harvard 3-0 73 NR
T22. Jacksonville State 2-3 71 17
24. Princeton 3-0 41 NR
25. Monmouth 3-2 39 NR

Others receiving votes: Central Arkansas 38, New Hampshire 37, Eastern Kentucky 23, Mercer 22, South Dakota 20, Nicholls 19, Stephen F. Austin 16, UIW 16, Jackson State 15, Holy Cross 14, Yale 12, Abilene Christian 10, VMI 10, Murray State 9, Austin Peay 7, Duquesne 6, Florida A&M 5, William & Mary 4, Elon 3, North Carolina A&T 3, Richmond 3, Charleston Southern 2.

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