Let’s predict some scores.
2022 record: 69-34
2019-2021 record: 244-115
RELATED: Week 12 Viewing Guide
No. 8 William & Mary at No. 11 Richmond
The winner in this storied rivalry game is sure to get a playoff seed. The loser still looks likely to get a bid.
W&M has the third-best passing defense statistically in the CAA. Delaware (No. 1) was able to limit Richmond’s passing attack last week in a 21-13 Richmond win, although Reece Udinski played through an injury. I like W&M’s well-rounded defense, and its ability offensively to control the clock and tempo of this game with its rushing offense that averages 277.0 yards per game on the ground.
The Tribe will need to control the line of scrimmage on offense and tackle well in space on defense.
Prediction: William & Mary 24-21
Dayton at Davidson
The winner here gets the Pioneer’s AQ into the playoffs.
Davidson has taken San Diego’s place as the top-tier team in the PFL. Dayton has been a contender too recently with some explosive offensive play. Jake Chisholm is a fantastic all-purpose player for Dayton (960 yards rushing and 11 TDs, 239 yards receiving and 4 TDs). Davidson has a fierce option rushing attack that leads the FCS (357.4 YPG), led by Dylan Sparks and Coy Williams.
I like Davidson here with it being at home and Davidson being in this situation before of playing in a key conference game with playoff implications on the line.
Prediction: Davidson 28-21
No. 19 Mercer at No. 9 Samford
I believe Samford has a legit argument for the No. 4 seed if it wins and finishes 10-0 vs. the FCS. And I think Mercer could be left out of the bracket with a loss, a 7-4 record, and no now-ranked wins. If Mercer wins, then I think the committee makes room for four SoCon teams (assuming Furman and Chattanooga avoid upsets).
Mercer hasn’t won the big games this season but has looked fantastic against the inferior opponents. Only scoring 21 and 13 points against Chattanooga and Furman is a concern against an improved Samford defense. And the Samford offense is just rolling right now, grabbing a great win on the road at Chattanooga last week and scoring 35 points on a solid defense.
This looks like a balanced squad where the defense is complementing the offense. Give me the Bulldogs at home.
Prediction: Samford 28-24
North Carolina A&T at Gardner-Webb
The Big South title and AQ are on the line here.
Gardner-Webb has had a brutal non-conference schedule, playing three FBS opponents (Coastal Carolina, Marshall, and Liberty) and two ranked FCS teams (Elon and Mercer). But the squad has used those challenges to be 4-0 in the Big South standings (5-5 overall) alongside NC A&T.
NC A&T has also bounced back from a tough start, beginning 0-3 with losses to rival NC Central, defending national champs NDSU, and FBS Duke.
NC A&T looks for a playoff AQ before heading to the CAA next season. NC A&T’s defense is playing to the program’s standard now, and the rushing attack has been great, led by Bhayshul Tuten (1,255 yards and 12 TDs). Defense and running the ball? That’s how you win games in November.
Prediction: NC A&T 31-24
No. 5 UIW at Northwestern State
Northwestern State is 0-5 in the non-conference but is currently 4-1 in the Southland alongside Southeastern and UIW. The Demons still have a chance of getting the Southland AQ. They would have to beat NUIW and hope Nicholls beats Southeastern to finish 5-1 in league play while UIW and Southeastern finished 4-2.
I don’t see that happening, though.
UIW will want to put together a statement win to solidify its argument for a seed. The Cardinals have been outscoring opponents 51.6 to 20.3 this season. The defense has gotten noticeably stronger, while QB Lindsey Scott Jr. is just making opposing defenses look silly.
Prediction: UIW 38-17
No. 13 Montana at No. 3 Montana State
I’m typing this from the Bozeman airport, and maybe it’s just the coffee, but I’m buzzing for this game and can’t wait to feel the buzz around town. Not only is this one of the most intense rivalries in college football, and not only are the stakes high (MSU a Top 3 seed with a win, Montana potentially left out of the playoffs with a loss), but ESPN’s “College GameDay” is in town to add to the excitement.
To me, it will come down to the quarterbacks. Will Montana’s Lucas Johnson play or not? If he doesn’t, we’ve seen the Griz offense really struggle. If he does play, what type of mobility does he have with whatever type of leg injury he is dealing with? For MSU, can Tommy Mellott make enough plays with his arm? And what type of impact will Sean Chambers have returning from injury? He is still third in the FCS with 16 rushing TDs despite missing the last month of action.
MSU will get its rushing yards. Montana will get its TFLs and sacks and big hits. Each unit will get theirs at different moments in the game. It’ll come down to the QBs, and I feel better about MSU’s QB situation heading into this game coupled with it being in Bozeman.
Prediction: Montana State 24-21
Kennesaw State at Eastern Kentucky
EKU needs this win to hit seven D1 victories. It will have an argument for an at-large bid with an FBS win (Bowling Green) and a ranked win over SEMO. And I *think* EKU could get the ASUN-WAC AQ with a win and a Central Arkansas loss to Jacksonville State since EKU would own the ASUN tiebreaker, and EKU has a higher computerized power ranking than the WAC’s SFA and ACU.
Kennesaw has been playing better down the stretch, but I like EKU at home here. Parker McKinney is a great QB, and I think the team will have a complete performance knowing what’s on the line. Kennesaw doesn’t have as much to play for at 5-5 overall and 1-3 in the ASUN
Prediction: Eastern Kentucky 35-24
Stephen F. Austin at Abilene Christian
ACU is 3-0 in the WAC standings, and SFA is 2-1. These two teams played before with SFA winning 41-38 at home, but it did not count in the WAC standings.
ACU can secure the WAC championship with a win and have its power ranking stacked up against the ASUN champ for the playoff AQ. ACU could also hit eight D1 wins for at-large consideration if it happened to not get the AQ. They had an impressive showing at ranked UND a couple of weeks ago, losing 34-31 in a place that’s not easy to play. Since then, they have won two in a row. SFA has lost two in a row to D1-transitioning Utah Tech and 34-7 at home to UCA. Momentum is going two different ways here.
Prediction: Abilene Christian 35-21
No. 16 North Dakota at No. 4 North Dakota State
This is no gimme for NDSU. UND is playing well, especially offensively with a mix of physical running and spreading the ball out through the air. I’ve been waiting for NDSU to take it to another level post-SDSU loss, similar to last year, and just haven’t seen it yet. With the season-ending injury to starting RT Mason Miller, the status of All-American fullback Hunter Luepke unknown but doubtful to return this weekend (and maybe beyond), plus the earlier injuries to All-Americans Noah Gindorff (TE) and Eli Mostaert (DT), this Bison team just might not have that next-level play it hit last year.
But, while not a juggernaut, the Bison are still a Top 5 team in the FCS. Maybe even the best team in the FCS by January, but I haven’t seen that performance yet. I think it’ll be a close game for three quarters, but NDSU’s elite OL will get the advantage in the fourth on a gettable defense that hasn’t been as stout as past UND units.
Prediction: NDSU 31-21
No. 24 UC Davis at No. 2 Sacramento State
Another great rivalry to end the regular season. UC Davis is in a win-and-in situation to finish 7-4 with back-to-back road wins over ranked opponents. A loss, and getting in at 6-5 on this large bubble will be tough. Sac State can secure a Top 2 seed with a win.
UC Davis has been on a terror lately, destroying its opponents, including Idaho for most of last week’s game. The offensive line has been playing at a high level, and UC Davis can score on you quickly with some explosive athletes. Sac State’s defense will have to play one of their better games. The Hornets can also score in a multitude of ways, and their ground game has proven to be tough to fully contain.
This is going to be a battle. But it seems every week when we think Sac State could lose, it finds a way to win. This may be another big Asher O’Hara game on the ground to control the clock and keep UC Davis’ offense off the field.
Prediction: Sac State 35-31