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:
Stephen F. Austin vs. Abilene Christian (FloSports)
Brian: SFA 24-21
This should be a really good battle, honestly. Stephen F. Austin has made some strides on defense, as evidenced by its first two games against FBS opponents being close. The Lumberjacks have easily handled two lower division opponents, also. SFA is especially stingy in pass defense, and ACU QB and Iowa transfer Peyton Mansell has thrown for nearly 500 yards in two games so far against FBS opponents. Don’t expect a runaway score-fest here.
Sam: ACU 28-27
A unique matchup here as two Southland teams are playing a non-conference game this fall while the rest of the conference (besides Central Arkansas and Houston Baptist) is moving ahead with a spring schedule.
As with a lot of these teams in the fall season, SFA and ACU are tough to gauge. SFA is 2-3 with three losses to FBS opponents and two wins against non-D1 teams. The Wildcats are 0-2 with two losses to FBS opponents. Both teams played UTEP, with ACU losing 17-13 and SFA losing 24-14.
With this being a neutral site game at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, I see this as an even matchup. I’ll take ACU in this one, mostly because I trust the QB play with the Wildcats more with Peyton Mansell. Both offenses are averaging less than 20 points per game, but ACU has shown flashes through the air.
Central Arkansas at Eastern Kentucky (ESPN+)
Brian: UCA 28-14
Central Arkansas has been the FCS model of how to do fall ball this year, who are we kidding? The Bears have done battle with two FBS teams, pushed North Dakota State to the limit in the Fargodome and won their FCS battles. The Bears have pocketed some coin, which … who are we kidding … is very important this year. And the Bears have pocketed some wins. This will not be an easy road trip, but UCA easily is the favorite. PS — Future NFL prospect Lujuan Winningham has eight TD receptions this year.
Sam: UCA 42-24
After an impressive 37-14 win against The Citadel, EKU has lost its last two games by a combined five points. Last week saw a heartbreaker with FBS Troy hitting a game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired after EKU took a 29-28 lead with 21 seconds left.
I’m still waiting for an offensive explosion for a talented UCA offense and I think it happens this week. The Colonels allow 38.6 points and 277.8 passing yards per game (skewed a bit by FBS opponents). UCA’s offense began to roll in the second half versus NDSU, then scored 27 against Arkansas State. Last week, the Bears put up 33 on Missouri State, but had to rely on four field goals from Hayden Ray.
The UCA defense forced six turnovers (featuring one pick-six) and the offense didn’t take as good advantage of that as it could have. I think the Bears put it all together this week and pull away for a decisive win.