The HERO Sports FCS Pick-Em Challenge is back for the 2020 fall/2021 spring season.
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:
Houston Baptist at Eastern Kentucky (ESPN3)
Brian: Houston Baptist 38-35
The week after Frisco back in January, I was thinking … Houston Baptist at Eastern Kentucky, that’s a game we expect this year. Well, not exactly. But, that’s the kind of year we’ve had. This one is interesting. HBU and EKU have gone 0-5 against FBS teams this year. EKU was hammered twice, and HBU actually nearly took down Texas Tech in what easily would have been the greatest win in school history. But none of that matters a bit at this point … this is an FCS battle between two schools that have a ton to prove — and this is HBU’s final chance for 2020.
EKU is one of the top programs of FCS/I-AA football all-time, and the Colonels came into 2020 with 21 wins in the past three seasons. They also knocked around one of the top SoCon teams last week at The Citadel. On the flip side, HBU has put up 486 yards per game on three in-state FBS opponents … but, the Huskies haven’t exactly stopped those FBS opponents, either. What are we going to see here? An interesting matchup, that’s what. I can’t wait to watch this one, and there’s no way we would have known this one would have occurred even two months ago.
Sam: EKU 31-27
The Colonels looked really good last week in a 37-14 win against The Citadel, a preseason ranked team. It was a jolt of energy after two lopsided losses to FBS opponents. I expect more offensive success against a vulnerable HBU defense
EKU’s defense will have to get key stops when needed. Facing HBU’s electric passing attack will be quite the opposite of last week’s option offense of The Citadel. This should be an exciting game. I’ll go with EKU on this one after the Colonels proved something to me last week. While EKU hasn’t made the playoffs in recent years, it’s still been a solid OVC team with an overall winning record. The Colonels have an opportunity to post a solid record against FCS opponents this fall, where they play a total of 6 FCS teams.
Central Arkansas at North Dakota State (ESPN+)
Brian: NDSU 35-14
And here is Part Deux of the “no way I was thinking about this game the week after Frisco” derby. Do I think UCA will go into Fargo and win? Absolutely not. Do I think UCA’s brass and coaching staff deserve major props having the chops to take this on? Absolutely, and I think the Fargo fanbase would agree, because Bison fans are tuned in and notice such things. I really don’t care what happens in this one when it comes to a final score. Yes, NDSU will win. And yes, NDSU would win against nearly all of Group of Five opponents with this team (thus the reasons they won’t add NDSU this fall), and many P5s would go down too. Only UCA was willing to step up to the plate and try this.
On the flip side, UCA has seemed shaky at times this year, but also has found a way to rally to win twice against FCS opponents … and is there a possibility maybe — just maybe — a bowl game might be interested in UCA if it finishes with 6 or so wins this fall? Did I just type that out loud? Just sayin’. But for this weekend? I want to see Robert Rochell, the UCA stud NFL prospect, matchup with NDSU QB Trey Lance and his stellar WR prospects. I want to see UCA 2022 WR prospect Lujuan Winningham and the rest of that corps go against NDSU’s secondary. This is an opportunity for both teams, and will this sadly be the last time we see Lance in the FCS before he is inevitably drafted? But ultimately this game will be won on the line of scrimmage, as it always is. This will be a fun one for the FCS Nation to keep an eye on. And PS — In this strange year, if NDSU was traveling to Tallahassee to play Florida State this weekend, guess what would happen? Doesn’t really take a guess, does it?
Sam: NDSU 52-17
This will be the best offense in NDSU history. I don’t think that’s a hot take or even a lukewarm take. But we’ll only get to see them in action one time this season with left tackle and potential first-round NFL Draft pick Dillon Radunz already saying he won’t play this spring. Plus, there’s a strong chance QB Trey Lance, viewed as a Top 10 pick, also begins training for the draft after this game.
Guys like WR Christian Watson, OL Cordell Volson and Karson Schoening, TEs Noah Gindorff and Josh Babicz and FB Hunter Luepke are all said to be legit NFL prospects as well. Then you have a mostly-intact running back room plus Seth Wilson returning from injury. This is a one-time fall game for this group, so I expect the Bison to get out to a quick and big lead but still let all of their playmakers do their thing late into the game.
UCA is a strong team, but isn’t playing as well as I expected. Even with just a few hundred fans in the stands (family only will be in attendance), the Bears will walk into a buzzsaw Saturday. I expect a monster showing from this NDSU offense.