Stony Brook at No. 19 Delaware Available: FloSports
Delaware had a great start to the spring season last weekend, taking it to Maine and winning 37-0. The Blue Hens proved they will be a factor in the CAA North division. Meanwhile, Stony Brook proved it will be a tough out for any opponent, giving No. 5 Villanova a scare before falling 16-13.
The Seawolves haven’t won many games on the road in the past two seasons. This is a good opportunity for Delaware to improve to 2-0 and continue climbing the national rankings. The Blue Hens looked more balanced in Game 1 with Nolan Henderson throwing for nearly 150 yards and the rushing attack going over 200 yards. I don’t expect another 37-point performance from this offense against a tougher Stony Brook defense, but the Blue Hens should get another W here.
Prediction: Delaware 20-10
Charleston Southern at No. 9 Kennesaw State Available: ESPN+
This is our first look at Charleston Southern since it ended the 2019 season on a four-game winning streak. The Buccaneers finished 6-6 overall and 4-2 in the Big South and expect to be a factor in this spring’s title race.
Kennesaw got a tune-up game in against Shorter on Feb. 27, a 35-3 win. It was a bit of a slow start to that game, but that doesn’t deter me from believing the Owls are the team to beat in the Big South. KSU has a good shot to finish the regular season undefeated. However, getting one of the four playoff seeds will be tough if teams like UND, JMU, Weber State, and JSU keep winning.
The Owls need some style points with dominating wins. But I don’t see this as a dominant win. CSU is a quality team that should push KSU.
The playoff implications in this game are huge. Both teams already have one loss. Getting a second loss on Saturday means you would have to win out just to have a shot at the bracket, and even then it wouldn’t be guaranteed.
UNI’s defense has been incredible and hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Week 1. It makes you wonder just how dominant the unit would have been in the fall of 2020 when considering the Panthers have lost four All-American level players to transfer, NFL Draft entry, or injury.
SIU has been an interesting team. The Salukis looked bad against UND. Then they snapped NDSU’s 39-game winning streak. Last week, they narrowly beat a now 0-3 YSU team in a game that required a second-half comeback. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen in this one. SIU is the more balanced team when everything is clicking, so that gives the Salukis the edge in my pick.
Prediction: SIU 17-14
No. 7 Nicholls at No. 12 Sam Houston Available: ESPN+
This will be a blast to watch two dual-threat QBs go at it. We highlighted Nicholls’ Lindsey Scott Jr. last week. And SHSU’s Eric Schmid has looked terrific as well after battling injuries in 2019.
I came into this week thinking Nicholls is in the national championship conversation. While I do still believe that, my gut tells me SHSU is getting this win. The Bearkats had their best defense in years in 2019 and return a lot of those starters, although they did allow 38 points to a good Southeastern Louisiana offense earlier this spring. But SHSU won that game by scoring 43 points and totaling 672 yards of total offense.
The offense looks back to its old self with solid QB play. Schmid, by the way, runs a 4.40 in the 40 to go along with all the weapons SHSU has. It’s a tough offense to slow down. The Bearkats are 16-4 at home dating back to the 2017 season. The last time Nicholls beat the Bearkats in Huntsville was 2002.
Prediction: SHSU 31-28
No. 23 UC Davis at No. 2 Weber State Available: Pluto TV Ch. 1054
UC Davis entered the playoff picture with a win against ranked Idaho last week. The Aggies hit the road again for a tougher task. Weber State is my No. 1 team. The Wildcats look like a complete squad with new starting QB Bronson Barron passing the eyeball test. Of course, the UC Davis defense will present a bigger challenge than Idaho State.
The Aggies looked stout in their run defense against Idaho, which is still the strength of Weber State with RB Josh Davis. The Wildcats allowed some big passing plays against Idaho State a couple of weeks ago, something to look out for after new UC Davis starting QB Hunter Rodrigues threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns against the Vandals.
At this early point in the season, these look like the two best teams in the Big Sky. The winner improves to 2-0 and in a prime spot to earn the conference’s auto-bid. Weber State is my No. 1 team for a reason, so it would be hard for me to pick against the Wildcats.
Prediction: Weber 28-21
No. 22 Illinois State at No. 5 North Dakota State Available: ESPN+
The Redbirds just don’t have the juice offensively to knock off the Bison. I’m more interested to see if there’s any progression with the NDSU offense. So far, it’s been two underwhelming showings and one bad performance for the Bison.
Despite an 0-2 record and an offense that hasn’t scored a touchdown since the second quarter of Game 1, Illinois State presents a challenge to NDSU because of its defense. The Redbirds are stronger on D than YSU and Missouri State. So it’s a good measuring stick for the Bison on offense to show if week-to-week improvements continue for two consecutive games.
ISU is allowing just 85 rushing yards per game. The Bison won’t be able to lean on the run game as much as they did last week against Missouri State. The downfield passing attack will need to get better.
Prediction: NDSU 24-7
Austin Peay at SEMO Available: ESPN+
Coming into the spring season, I thought it would be a three-team race in the OVC between JSU, Austin Peay, and SEMO. APSU has looked underwhelming, losing to Tennessee Tech before narrowly beating Tennessee State. SEMO looked great in a 47-7 win over Eastern Illinois but then lost 24-21 to Murray State.
With both teams already sitting with one loss and still needing to play JSU, this is very likely a playoff-elimination game. SEMO looks like the more well-rounded team right now. The top of the OVC needs to start having some separation if it wants one of the at-large bids.
Prediction: SEMO 24-17
Listen to the latest episodes of B-Mac and Herd’s FCS Podcast, which can also be found on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, iHeart, and Spreaker.
Sam’s coverage of the FCS began in 2012 as the sports editor and eventual editor-in-chief of NDSU’s The Spectrum. After graduating in 2015, he spent three years in the newspaper and magazine industry while starting his work for HERO Sports in the fall of 2016 as a freelancer. In May 2018, he joined the website full time as the Senior FCS Analyst.