Three sports in the Southland Conference are heading into their final stretch of the season. Two weeks remain in the FCS regular season for football with two teams tied atop the conference and three others right behind. Houston Baptist won the SLC soccer tournament this past weekend and will go on to the NCAA playoffs, and volleyball heads into the final week of the regular season before the SLC tournament that begins Nov. 21.
Sam Houston State is tied for first place in the SLC with Southeastern Louisiana at 5-1 conference records. SHSU will face Houston Baptist this weekend and then host Central Arkansas the following weekend. SHSU controls their own destiny, having to win both of their last two games to have the best odds of winning the SLC. SHSU is riding a three-game winning streak, including their 40-19 win over Incarnate Word on Saturday.
SLU plays McNeese State this Saturday, which looks to be the final test of the season for the Lions as they take on the winless Nicholls State in their last game. SELU is coming off a 76-7 blowout against HBU on Saturday.
McNeese fell to 4-2 in the SLC after losing 31-16 to Stephen F. Austin State this past weekend, dropping them to a tie for second. The loss drastically lessens McNeese’s chances of getting the top rank in the SLC due to both of their conference losses coming from teams either with an equal or better record in the SLC, if it were to come down to a tiebreaker.
SFA, which is also tied for second in the SLC, finishes their season with back-to-back home games against Abilene Christian and Northwestern State. Besides winning big games over SLU and McNeese, SFA will need some help to find themselves with the conference championship in two weeks. The same goes for UCA as the Bears take on Lamar this weekend before coming to Huntsville for the final game of the regular season.
Much could change in the next two weeks, but the Kats have the best chance of claiming the SLC and automatic bid in the FCS by controlling their own destiny. The SELU-McNeese game will help decide the Bearkats placement in the SLC.
The No. 2 ranked Bearkats dropped their first game of the SLC tournament last Friday to HBU. SHSU scored early in the first half but would give up the lead in the 86th minute to go into overtime. In overtime, HBU would win on penalties 4-2, and they wouldn’t look back until they won the whole tournament.
The Huskies won their first game 2-1 in 2OT over SLU to play SHSU. After beating the Bearkats, the Huskies earned a spot in the SLC championship game.
SFA went through the whole SLC season undefeated, and their only two losses came against two nationally ranked teams. As the Lumberjacks coasted past Nicholls with a 5-0 win in their first game of the tournament, they went into the championship game as the favorite.
SFA’s 14-game winning streak was snapped in the championship game as HBU shocked the SLC with a 2-0 win. HBU freshman forward Ellee Hall scored both of the goals for the Huskies to beat the Lumberjacks, ending their memorable season.
SFA has clinched at least a share of the SLC regular season title as they beat Northwestern State on Saturday and sit 14-0 atop the conference. SFA will have the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. UCA sits at second with a 12-2 record, and SHSU at third with an 11-3 record. One week remains in the regular season and every team has two games remaining.
SHSU finished the season undefeated at Johnson Coliseum with a perfect 12-0 record. Their last two games are on the road however as the Bearkats face Texas A&M – Corpus Christi on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and HBU on Thursday at 11 a.m.
The top eight teams in the SLC will go on to the SLC tournament, which takes place Nov. 21-23 in Natchitoches, La.