The McNeese Cowboys will make their 2017 season debut tonight in Thibodaux, when the take on the Nicholls State Colonels in a Southland Conference game. It is the earliest kickoff of conference play in the 73 year history of McNeese football.

Head coach Lance Guidry will begin his second season, and says the Pokes are excited to get the new season started. The Cowboys got in a couple of days of practice in Lafayette at the UL-L indoor facility. "That allowed us to get in some real good work," said coach Guidry.

The Cowboys were 6-5 last season and will return 16 starters, 8 on offense and 8 on defense. McNeese has been picked to finish 3rd in the conference preseason polls. Sam Houston State and Central Arkansas were picked 1 and 2. The Cowboys will not face Sam Houston State this year and will travel to UCA later in the season.

Tonight's game will be the 42nd meeting between the 2 schools. The Pokes have dominated the series leading 30-11. McNeese has won 8 in a row over the Colonels. The Cowboys won last year's meeting in Lake Charles, 38-13. McNeese will make their home debut next Saturday against Florida Tech.

Airtime is 6:10, with kickoff at 7:05.