This Thursday, Nicholls will face off with Southeastern in the annual River Bell Classic, with this years being held in Hammond. SLU won this game last year, 40-17, and looks to create a winning streak at two games. The last time this matchup was played in Hammond, Nicholls took victory with a 45-42 shootout.
This matchup is always chirpy and competitive for the most part, but Nicholls has to be the favorite on paper. The Colonels sit at 5-4, 6-4 if you include the forfeit win over Northwestern State, and sit undefeated in conference play. Nicholls is coming off back-to-back wins over UIW and Lamar, winning both games by 13 points, and sit comfortably in the conference lead. UIW and Lamar are the second and third strongest SLC teams. The Lions would love nothing more, I’m sure, than to spoil that undefeated conference record and finish with a winning conference record themselves. The Lions started this season out at 0-7, 0-3 in-conference, but have surged as of late, winning their last three games and currently reside at 3-3 in SLC play.
For Nicholls, they are led under center by Pat McQuaide, who has thrown all but two passes for the Colonels this year, a rare sight in the Southland Conference. McQuaide has completed 148/268 passes for 1,769 yards and 11 touchdowns against 9 interceptions. He’s not having an amazing statistical season, but McQuaide has done enough to win ballgames for Nicholls. Collin Guggenheim is leading the Colonels in rushing yards, having taken 155 carries for 745 yards and 11 touchdowns. Guggenheim would be what I consider the nucleus of this offense, as his scoring impact on this offense has gone unmatched. Jaylon Spears is another key contributer to this offense, as from the running back position, he has totaled 651 yards on just 91 carries, plus 6 touchdowns.
Neno Lemay leads the Colonels in catches, yards, and is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns, with 38-390-3 statline. On defense, DBs Ethan Lee and Tyler Morton have 55 and 53 tackles, respectively, and Morton also leads the team with 4 interceptions. This unit has been exceptional at forcing turnovers, totaling 16 interceptions and 7 fumble recoveries, in just nine games played.
The offensive line has been solid for Nicholls, allowing only 15 sacks, barely 1.5 per game.
For the Lions, expect Zachary Clement to continue to play the bulk of the snaps over Eli Sawyer. Clement has seen a much larger share of playing time since the Northwestern State game, and the Lions are 3-0 in that timespan. The keys for SLU is to limit turnovers against this ferocious defense, and the offense needs to run as efficiently as possible. Many, including myself, expect a high-scoring game.
The game takes place tomorrow at 6 PM, as always, in Hammond. It can be streamed on ESPN+, and the Southeastern Sports Radio Network.
*We will have two postgame articles covering this game, one covering each team. Stay tuned here on gridironfootballusa.com to read those after the game.