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• For the first time since 2017, the Nicholls State University football team opens its fall campaign on Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium as the Colonels welcome top-10 ranked Sacramento State for a Thursday night contest. Nicholls has not lost a home season opener since its first season in the Southland Conference in 1992. The first-ever meeting between the schools will air on ESPN+ and can be listened to on ESPN Radio New Orleans 100.3 FM.
• Nicholls has a 29-22 all-time record in home openers and is 6-2 under head coach Tim Rebowe. The Colonels lost Rebowe’s debut at Guidry Stadium in 2015 against McNeese but went on to win the next six, which included a season-opening win over the Cowboys in 2017. The Colonels saw the winning streak come to an end last season with a loss to transitioning FBS program Jacksonville State. In home season openers, the Colonels have an all-time mark of 17-4. The last setback was in ’92 against ULM before Nicholls reeled off wins in the next seven. The previous home season opener, technically, was the Colonels’ win over NAIA Lincoln to kickoff the spring 2021 campaign.
• The matchup with Sacramento State will not only be the first meeting between the programs, but it will be just the fourth school from California that the Colonels have ever faced. The first matchup against a team from the Golden State was a 30-28 win over Azuza Pacific in 2007. Nicholls then made its first trip to Cali in 2010 with a contest at FBS San Diego State where they fell 47-0 to the Aztecs. The last meeting came in the 2018 FCS playoffs as Nicholls hosted San Diego in the opening round, picking up a 49-30 win over the Toreros.
• Sacramento State brings a top-10 preseason ranking to Thibodaux after going undefeated last season before bowing out in the quarterfinals to Southland co-champion UIW. Nicholls has seven victories over Top 25 programs under Coach Rebowe, including a 34-14 win over No. 10 Central Arkansas in its 2019 home opener. The Hornets will be led by new head coach Andy Thompson, who was the defensive coordinator the last few seasons. Former head coach Troy Taylor left this offseason for Stanford after leading the Hornets to three consecutive Big Sky championships.
A WIN OVER SACRAMENTO STATE WOULD…
… give Nicholls a 1-0 start for the fourth time under Coach Rebowe. The Colonels are 3-6 in season openers with wins over McNeese (’17), Kansas (’18) and Lincoln (Spring ’21).
… put Nicholls at 24-28 all-time record in season openers.
… improve the Colonels’ record in August under Rebowe to 2-1. Nicholls won against McNeese on the 31st in 2017 before falling at Kansas State on the same date in ’19.
… give Nicholls a 29-13 record at home in the Rebowe Era.
… be the eighth win over a ranked opponent under Rebowe. The last ranked win was in the ’21 finale at No. 15 Southeastern while the last home victory over a ranked opponent was in the spring of ’21 versus No. 13 UIW.
… give the Colonels a 5-4 record all-time against programs currently in the Big Sky. Nicholls is 2-0 vs. Weber State, and 1-1 vs Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona. The Colonels lost their lone games with Montana and Portland State. The last matchup was in the 2018 FCS Playoffs where EWU overcame a halftime deficit for a 42-21 win in the second round.
BY THE NUMBERS
No. 2 — According to Stats Perform, the Colonels will be facing the No. 2 ranked schedule in the FCS this season. Nicholls will take on four teams that made the FCS playoffs a year ago — Sacramento State, SEMO, UIW and Southeastern. In addition, the two FBS opponents are national runner up TCU and Cotton Bowl champion Tulane. All 11 opponents are FCS or FBS and had a combined 83-53 (.610) record last season.
10 — Nicholls posted the second most Preseason All-Southland selections for 2023 with 10 Colonels making the squad. Eight of the honorees were first team which includes running back Collin Guggenheim, offensive linemen Evan Rousseland Mark Barthelemy, defensive lineman Perry Ganci, linebacker Eli Ennis, defensive backs Jordan Jackson and Tyler Morton, and Jaylon Spears was also a first-teamer at kick returner. For second team, linebacker Kylin White landed on the defensive squad while punter Kylan Dupre made the special teams.
10 — Tommy Rybacki‘s defense brings back a wealth of experience with only one starter not returning from a year ago. Not only are 10 starters back from last season, but a total of 13 players on the depth chart have started games in their Colonel career. That does not include Louisiana Tech transfers Joe Mason and Kershawn Fisher, who are both projected to start.
101 — The Nicholls roster features 101 Louisiana natives, which is the most of any Division I roster this season. The Colonels have held the distinction for most of Tim Rebowe‘s career, usually having at least 90 players from the Pelican State.
222 — Kicker Gavin Lasseigne and graduating running back Julien Gums ended the 2022 season with 222 career points scored which is a new program record, passing wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon who just set the mark of 216 in the ’21 campaign. Lasseigne has made 32 field goals and 126 extra points for his career.
1607 — Although running back Collin Guggenheim saw a reduced role in the backfield last season, he finished with over 543 yards rushing and now sits at 1,607 for his career. Guggenheim had a breakout season in 2021 after injuries made way for him taking over as the feature back, rushing for 100 yards in each of the final five games. He ended the ’21 campaign with 266 yards and three touchdowns in the River Bell Classic win at Southeastern.
Nicholls boasts the No. 2 toughest schedule in the FCS as their opponents have a combined .610 winning percentage (83-53) from a season ago. The Colonels host Sacramento State in their season opener after the Hornets reached the FCS quarterfinals with a perfect 12-0 record before falling to Southland co-champion UIW. Nicholls also takes on SEMO for the second straight season and the Redhawks are coming off a playoff appearance as well. In all, the Colonels will play four FCS playoff teams which includes league members Southeastern and UIW.
– If that wasn’t enough, not only are two FBS opponents on the slate but both are coming off historic campaigns as well. Tulane won the AAC championship and picked up win No. 12 with a thrilling victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl. It will be the second meeting all-time against the Green Wave for Nicholls with Tulane notching a 42-17 win in 2018.
– The Colonels will also play at TCU for the first time. The Horned Frogs made the College Football Playoff and were national runners-up.
ROUSSEL NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Center Evan Roussel has started in his first three seasons at Nicholls and was named to the Stats Perform FCS Preseason All-America Third Team.
– Roussel helped the Colonels to become one of the top rushing offenses in the FCS in 2021 as the offense ranked fifth in the country with 246.7 yards rushing per game.
– Roussel has garnered All-Southland in each of his three campaigns, garnering first team twice.
Despite allowing over 35 points per game last season, the Colonel defense landed two players on the All-Southland squad and both are returning for their senior seasons. Defensive lineman Perry Ganci put together his second straight all-league campaign as he was third on the team in tackles with 64. He ranked eighth in the conference with 4.0 sacks and ninth with 9.0 tackles for loss. Ganci posted a career-high 14 tackles at Lamar and had 2.0 sacks in the River Bell Classic against Southeastern.
– Defensive back Jordan Jackson was named All-Southland Second Team after ranking fifth in SLC play with five pass breakups and tied for eighth overall with eight passes defended. For the season, he totaled 36 tackles with 3.0 for loss and had a high of eight tackles in the River Bell Classic.
– In addition to Ganci and Jackson, the defense boasts three other preseason All-SLC selections — linebackers Eli Ennisand Kylin White, and safety Tyler Morton.
For the first time since 2016, the Colonel offense will have a first-year quarterback. Expected to lead the offense is juco transfer Pat McQuaide. At Mississippi Gulf Coast, he was an All-South MACCC First Team honoree as he totaled 2,730 yards passing, 24 touchdowns, a 64.5% completion percentage, and a 154.8 passer efficiency. He led the nation in passing yards, passing yards per game, and passing TDs, and was third in country in completion percentage.
– The last first-year starter was Chase Fourcade who started as a true freshman in 2016. He was the quarterback all four of his seasons until Lindsey Scott Jr., who sat out in 2019, took over at the position for the next two seasons. Last year, Kohen Granier started at quarterback after serving as the backup for a few seasons.
– Christian Arceneaux is listed as the backup. He received a redshirt last season in his true freshman campaign and was the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.
– Also on the roster from a year ago is Jakob Foss. After starting his career at Southern Illinois, Foss was injured last season and did not see the field.
– Rounding out the QB room are freshmen Ean Rodrigue and Hudson Osborne.