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Southland's battle of the champions

By Brandon Baylor, FCS Intern

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last year's Southland Conference co- champions will meet on Saturday when No. 5 Stephen F, Austin visits McNesse State in Lake Charles, La.

Stephen F. Austin returned 16 starters this season, including record-setting senior quarterback Jeremy Moses, who is in command of the No. 1 passing offense in the conference. The Lumberjacks are ranked No. 5 in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25, but head coach J.C. Harper knows a game at McNeese State is not an easy assignment.

Harper's team enters the game with a 3-1 record and has some key injuries, and he expects the Cowboys to play a physical style. Harper said, "that last year's game (a 16-13 SFA victory), we were lucky. McNeese was obviously the best football team that day. They gave us a hard time last year."

Unranked McNeese State has a lot to prove coming off last season's loss to SFA. The Cowboys are 2-2, but have a jump on the rest of the conference with a 1-0 Southland mark. Despite their two losses, the strongest part of their team has been the defense.

Three players who have played well for the McNeese State defense are linebacker Deron Minor, safety Darrell Jenkins and free safety Malcolm Bronson - the top team's top three tacklers - as well as defensive tackle Desmund Lighten. The defense will play a big role Saturday.

"Jeremy Moses is a incredible player and their offense is on fire," McNeese State head coach Matt Viator said. "We have a tough test"

Both teams were 6-1 in conference play last season. SFA won its third conference title since 1999, while McNeese State won its 13th conference championship and sixth since 2000. Last season's sharing of the title was the first since the 2005.

10/05 15:40:13 ET