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PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Setting up Southland Conference season finale showdown, Sam Houston State, Incarnate Word looking for statement wins Saturday in FCS action

With just two weeks remaining in the unprecedented NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) spring season, teams will be playing for conference championships and style points in hopes of getting a bid to the 16-team postseason tournament field.

Playing to earn the coveted automatic bid to the FCS playoffs as Southland Conference champions, fourth-ranked Sam Houston State (4-0) hopes to take another step toward an outright title when the Bearkats hope the upset-minded McNeese State Cowboys (2-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday in Huntsville’s Bowers Stadium.

Sam Houston State maintained control of its own destiny with a hard-fought 24-16 road win in Louisiana over winless Northwestern State (0-5) last Saturday. By climbing to No. 4 on the NCAA FCS committee’s midseason rankings, the Bearkats have moved into a favorable path in the FCS Playoffs while putting together a dominant season — winning by an average of 28 points per game.

McNeese State shocked 18th-ranked Nicholls State, 43-31, for the sixth consecutive time at home to effectively knock the Colonels (3-2) out of the SLC title race.

But 19th-ranked Incarnate Word (3-1) remains in contention coming off a bye week. The Cardinals have the advantage of hosting their final two regular season games, taking on  Northwestern State (0-5) at 7 p.m. Saturday. With a win over the Demons, Incarnate Word would set up a winner-take-automatic bid showdown against Sam Houston State in the regular season finale.

Elsewhere in the Southland Conference, Nicholls State will travel to Thibodaux to take on the 23rd-ranked Southeastern Louisiana Lions (3-2) in the River Bell Classic in a battle for survival with a shot at one of the six at-large bids on the line.

Other FCS games in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) feature Mississippi Valley State (1-2) visiting Alabama State (2-1), while Alabama A&M (1-0) travels to Jackson State (2-1)

Throughout the unprecedented spring football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus prognosticators will select NCAA FCS and Division III college football games featuring Texas teams.

This season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel consists of newcomer Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), while Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton, The Sports Buzz photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

For the record, Gridiron Gurus’ friendly battle for bragging right during the “real” fall football season came down to the final game of the season, the Super Bowl. With both Wade and Brett amazingly tied after picking 245 games going into Super Bowl LV, Wade correctly picked Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to upset Brett’s choice and favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs. Congrats, Wade.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 spring football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the unprecedented spring football games. Be sure to make your picks as well!

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