The HERO Sports FCS Pick-Em Challenge is back for the 2020 fall/2021 spring season.
Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder will predict scores of FCS vs. FCS games this fall and the top games in the spring with the FCS Pick Em Championship Belt on the line.
Sam won the belt last season with a 100-42 overall record while B-Mac finished with a 96-46 record.
Let’s get to some picks…
2020-21 Overall Records:
Jacksonville State at North Alabama (ESPN3)
Brian: JSU 35-14
Jacksonville State’s offense has looked as good as it has in several years, scaring the living daylights out of Florida State (and coach Mike Norvell), then repeating the feat with a good Mercer team the next week in an FCS-vs-FCS win. The only problem was, the Gamecocks allowed both opponents back in the game late to make things interesting, after dominating early on. But I have a feeling JSU has found its footing. This is a very, very talented team.
Now, one key question is, how will the team deal with beloved head coach John Grass being home in self-isolation with COVID-19? Will it rally around this, or could this be a problem? Another quick note: JSU and UNA are old rivals, but the Gamecocks having been to UNA since 1992. But overall? I think JSU dispatches a rising FCS program in UNA.
Sam: JSU 28-17
JSU is probably the hardest FCS team to predict. One week the Gamecocks are up a couple of scores on Florida State. The next week they barely edge a Mercer team that went 4-8 in 2019. How will JSU come out and play against North Alabama, one of the newer teams to the FCS level?
These two teams met last year, a 30-12 win for JSU. A lot of key pieces are back for the Gamecocks, a squad that should be determined to prove last year’s non-playoff season was a one-time deal. Keep in mind that these fall games do count toward your spring playoff resume. This could be a statement game for North Alabama as well. But I think the Gamecocks have the more talented team and will pull away in the second half after a competitive opening two quarters.
Central Arkansas at Missouri State (ESPN3)
Brian: Missouri State 31-27
I am so tempted to take Missouri State here. In fact, I will. Why? Because Bobby Petrino’s boys had four turnovers in Conway, Ark. in the first installment of this 2020 Pandemic FCS doubleheader … and the Bears still nearly won on the road against the defending Southland co-champs. The Bears outgained … ahem … the Bears of UCA 291 yards to 177. The MSU Bears owned the time of possession to the tune of nearly 35 minutes to 25 … and I’m sorry, I just don’t see Missouri State turning the ball over four times this game. I do think this will be a good matchup, but Missouri State pulls of a massive first win under Petrino.
Sam: UCA 31-27
The last time Mo State played a football game was Sept. 26, which came against UCA. Mo State led most of that game before losing 27-20, a surprising result for a matchup between the Southland’s best team and one of the bottom teams annually in the MVFC. Was that a one-time deal where Missouri State snuck up on UCA?
I don’t believe so. While I think the Bears of UCA will win, the Bears of Mo State can show once again they are an improved squad heading into the spring season. This is Missouri State’s homecoming game, but I think UCA will come a bit more prepared as its offense is starting to find itself.