The Nicholls State University football program is going heavy on the FBS opposition and light on the home games in a 2012 schedule announced on Friday.

The Colonels' first three games are against FBS opponents - a first in program history - and they will play only four home games at John L. Guidry Stadium.

"We are very excited about the 2012 schedule. It's very challenging, which is what we want," Nicholls third-year head coach Charlie Stubbs said. "Playing this kind of demanding schedule will make us stretch and grow to our potential as we strive to improve as a program."

Nicholls will open the season by visiting the FBS opposition, Oregon State on Sept. 1, transitioning Sun Belt Conference member South Alabama on Sept. 8 and Tulsa on Sept. 15. Stubbs is a former Tulsa assistant coach.

The Colonels will play their home opener on Sept. 22 against Evangel, which they defeated, 42-0, last season.

Their Southland Conference home games are against 2011 conference champion and FCS runner-up Sam Houston State (Oct. 13), McNeese State (Nov. 3) and Southeastern Louisiana (Nov. 17).

Nicholls will go the road to face Southland opponents Central Arkansas (Oct. 6), Stephen F. Austin (Oct. 20), Northwestern State (Oct. 27) and Lamar (Nov. 10).

"I know the conference schedule will be super challenging and we will be tested early," said Stubbs, whose team finished 1-10 overall and 0-7 in the Southland this past season.

2012 Nicholls Football Schedule

Sept. 1, at Oregon State, Corvallis, Ore.

Sept. 8, at South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.

Sept. 15, at Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla.

Sept. 22, Evangel, Thibodaux, La.

Oct. 6, at Central Arkansas*, Conway, Ark.

Oct. 13, Sam Houston State*, Thibodaux, La.

Oct. 20, at Stephen F. Austin*, Nacogdoches, Texas

Oct. 27, at Northwestern State*, Natchitoches, La.

Nov. 3, McNeese State*, Thibodaux, La.

Nov. 10, at Lamar*, Beaumont, Texas

Nov. 15, Southeastern Louisiana*, Thibodaux, La.

* - Southland Conference game