Sam Houston State picked first, Nicholls second in 2018 Southland preseason football poll

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Four teams earn first-place votes as Bearkats earn 187 total points

FRISCO, Texas – Sam Houston State is the preseason favorite for the 2018 Southland Conference football season, the league announced Thursday. The Bearkats earned 10 first-place votes and 187 total points to garner the top spot.

Nicholls was voted second with 173 total points and six first-place tabs. Defending champion Central Arkansas follows closely in third place, earning five first-place votes and 170 points. McNeese earned a top vote and 159 points to rank fourth in the preseason poll.

Southeastern Louisiana (119) is slated as the fifth-place team, followed by Stephen F. Austin (90), Abilene Christian (89), Northwestern State (86), UIW (53), Lamar (52) and Houston Baptist (32).

Despite the hole left at quarterback by the graduation of two-time Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston returns the core of a potent offensive unit. Wide receivers Davion Davis and Nathan Stewart headline six first team preseason all-conference offense picks for 2018. The pair combined for 2,854 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns last season. The Bearkats reached the FCS playoff semifinals last season and are ranked first in the preseason poll for the fourth consecutive year.

Nicholls enters 2018 with a league-high 14 total preseason all-conference picks, highlighted by junior quarterback Chase Fourcade. He passed for 2,316 yards with 14 touchdowns in 2017, helping lead Nicholls to its first FCS playoffs appearance since 2005.

The 2018 season kicks off Thursday, Aug. 30, with Southeastern Louisiana facing ULM on the road at 7 p.m. CT and Northwestern State traveling to College Station to take on Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m. The bulk of the league gets underway on Saturday, Sept. 1, while Sam Houston State’s opening game is set for Sept. 8 at home against Prairie View.

The Southland Conference preseason poll is voted on by each head coach and football sports information director. Each voter ranks their predicted order of regular season finish, not including their own team. First-place votes are worth 10 points, second-place votes are worth nine and so on to one point for 10th place.

2018 Southland Conference Football Preseason Poll

Team (First-place votes) Total
1.       Sam Houston State (10) 187
2.       Nicholls (6) 173
3.       Central Arkansas (5) 170
4.       McNeese (1) 159
5.       Southeastern Louisiana 119
6.       Stephen F. Austin 90
7.       Abilene Christian 89
8.       Northwestern State 86
9.       UIW 53
10.   Lamar 52
11.   Houston Baptist 32
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