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:
Southeast Missouri State at Southern Illinois (ESPN3)
Brian: SIU 21-20
It’s hard to know what’s going to happen in this “one off” matchup for these two teams. Why? Because A) They haven’t seen the field this year, thus the “one off” description and B) Because it’s the War For The Wheel as they used to have to cross the Mississippi River by boat propelled by the ship’s wheel. This game was first contested in 1909. This game has been pretty close of late, settled by eight points or less in three of the last five games … but SEMO has won the last two. Look for a battle that could go either way.
Sam: SIU 28-21
This is a great Friday night game between two teams ranked in the preseason Top 25. SEMO made the playoffs last season while SIU was one of the first teams to be left on the bubble. This is the only game this fall for both teams.
It won’t be the cleanest of games since this is the first game action they’ve seen in a long time. So I’ll lean toward what SIU has coming back on defense plus its running game. The Salukis had a much-improved defense last season (allowing 23.0 PPG compared to 40.7 PPG in 2018) and returns eight of its top 11 tacklers. RB Javon Williams Jr. is one of the best young players in the FCS, rushing for 1,038 yards and 17 TDs last year while finishing third in the Jerry Rice Award voting.
Abilene Christian at Mercer (ESPN3)
Brian: Mercer 28-21
Mercer had Jacksonville State on the ropes — and JSU pestered two FBS teams this fall also. Both these programs have shown bright spots this fall. Look for stud Mercer RB Tyray Devezin to be the difference in Macon, Ga. this weekend.
Sam: ACU 31-21
The common opponent between these two is Army. Mercer lost 49-3 last week while ACU lost 55-23 in early October. Neither team has won a game yet this fall, but Mercer did give Jacksonville State a scare and the Wildcats’ offense had some explosive moments last week in a 35-32 overtime loss to SFA.
Mercer’s defense is certainly gettable, allowing 41.5 points per game this year after allowing 35.4 in 2019. ACU will have to overcome an emotional loss, but I have the Wildcats getting their first W on Saturday. ACU will have to limit turnovers (3 INT. and 2 lost fumbles last week) and its defense will need to come up with big stops after allowing 467 yards. This is a good game to put it all together