TGIF! It's the second of the playoffs. Let's predict some scores.
[divider]COMPARE: Compare FCS Players | FCS Teams[divider]
It's time to find out what the rest of the playoffs will look like. Week Two of the playoffs does more to shape the final weeks of the season than any other round.
On to our eight second-round playoff games!
Montana State at No. 1 North Dakota State
Chase: North Dakota State 38, Montana State 6
This feels like a ho-hum perfect game from the Bison. The Bobcats acquitted themselves well in a comfortable win over Incarnate Word, but the road ends here.
Sam: North Dakota State 35, MSU 6
Montana State QB Troy Andersen has been compared to last year's South Dakota quarterback Chris Streveler. The problem with that comparison for MSU is the Bison contained Streveler and Streveler had a much better arm than Andersen. The Bobcats might give NDSU some problems on their first couple drives. But after that, the Bison will adjust and won't let a one-dimensional team beat them.
Brian: North Dakota State 35, Montana State 7
Montana State has had a fine 8-win season and has a ton to build off of going forward, along with its fine job of recruiting in recent years. Getting to this point was a fine accomplishment, but the Bison at home are tough as nails.
Southeast Missouri State at Weber State
Chase: Weber State 17, SEMO 10
SEMO has the bodies at the line of scrimmage to really make this an uncomfortable game for Weber State. I can't see Weber losing in this spot, but I think this game will be close throughout.
Sam: Weber 27, SEMO 17
SEMO proved last week that Saturday's game could be a good one. But Weber will be too much as the No. 2 seed and will improve its home record this season to 6-0. A week off should have this team playing at a high level and give the offense a chance to continue improving.
Brian: Weber St. 20, SEMO 13
SEMO can hang some points on opponents, but Weber State is clearly the top FCS defense it has faced this year. While the Wildcats aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut (at least not quite yet), they've found a way to win six games in a row. They're always sound on defense and special teams — and that goes a long way in the postseason.
Nicholls at No. 3 Eastern Washington
Chase: Eastern Washington 42, Nicholls 24
Eastern is fresher and just more talented. Nicholls makes the score look respectable, but the outcome isn't in doubt at any point over the final 40 minutes.
Sam: Eastern Washington 49, Nicholls 35
I expect an entertaining first quarter, but after that, I think the Eagles settle down defensively while still pouring it on offensively. Both teams are hot right now and EWU might come in a little over-excited. Overall, the Eagles have the better defense and that will make the difference.
Brian: Eastern Washington 45, Nicholls 38
Anybody who thinks Nicholls is going to roll over in this one hasn't been paying attention the last month to six weeks. The Colonels get up for big games, and this one's a biggie. I think we're in for an offensive shootout settled in the fourth quarter, based on 48-hour out weather reports that it should be clear on Saturday — not snowy and negative-5 degrees like it can be in Cheney, Wash. at times.
Wofford at No. 4 Kennesaw State
Chase: Kennesaw 27, Wofford 14
Option v. Option will definitely not be for casual fans, but true football fans should get pretty excited for this one. SHOW ME YOUR GUARD PULLS! I think Kennesaw's offense can do more things, so I'm backing the Owls to pull away off a late score.
Sam: Kennesaw 24, Wofford 14
This will be a really good test for Kennesaw's offense. Wofford is used to seeing and defending the option, and also looked good in Round 1 against Elon. But I'm not sure how much the Terriers will score to stay in the game. I don't see this KSU senior class having its story end right away in the playoffs.
Brian: Kennesaw 28, Wofford 21
These two programs run the option to perfection, as evidenced by their combined 19 wins. I honestly think this game will come down to one big mistake, or one big special teams play — something of that nature. I think these teams mirror each other more than just in the offense they run. Worthy of note here — in our special teams comparison published after the bracket was announced, KSU was No. 1 in the playoff field.
Duquesne at No. 5 South Dakota State
Chase: South Dakota State 35, Duquesne 14
I say this knowing that I wrongly stated the exact same thing last week, but Duquesne is a bit out of its depth here.
Sam: South Dakota State 38, Duquesne 17
It's hard to imagine the Dukes sneaking up on SDSU after what they did to Towson. The Jacks blew this team out at the start of the 2017 regular season and I see the same type of game happening. The Jacks have legit national title aspirations. Focus won't be a problem.
Brian: South Dakota State 28, Duquesne 14
Duquesne was the story of the first round, and had an impressive season, but this will likely be a bit too much of a challenge to handle. I don't know that this will be a blowout, but the Jackrabbits will prevail at home.
Northern Iowa at No. 6 UC Davis
Chase: UC Davis 34, Northern Iowa 17
One of my football blind spots is that I love taking grindy ball control teams over pass-heavy offensive teams. I don't even know how many times I've picked an upset like UNI over UC Davis. I'm going completely in the other direction here, though, because I just don't think UNI is all that good. The Panthers have been inconsistent all year, and I'm not really sold on the defense. Give me UC Davis by three scores.
Sam: UC Davis 31, Northern Iowa 24
This is unfamiliar territory for UC Davis. Meanwhile, the Panthers have a ton of playoff experience. But once the flow of the game is underway, UC Davis is the more talented team. UNI struggles on the road too much for me to pick an upset here.
Brian: UC Davis 34, Northern Iowa 20
Northern Iowa can be a tough out at times, but sometimes (specifically on the road) the Panthers can also make you scratch your head. This is a long road trip for UNI and the Aggies are stoked about the opportunity to host a playoff game. This one just seems to naturally tilt the way of UC Davis.
Jacksonville State at No. 7 Maine
Chase: Maine 17, Jacksonville State 16
This ain't your slightly older brother's Jacksonville State. I love the talent JSU has on the defensive side of the ball, and I think they're a real threat to win some games this postseason, but Maine has a pretty nice defense, too. Maine has some health concerns to worry about, but I just can't back an Alabama team playing in Maine in December. At home, in their unique geographic element, the Black Bears find a way to win.
Sam: Jacksonville State 21, Maine 17
While reports say Maine QB Chris Ferguson is expected to play with no limitations, there still should be some concern that his throwing shoulder has had an ongoing injury. And although it'll be bitter and cold, I don't think JSU minds that type of game. The Gamecocks are strong against the run and their run game has really gotten going recently.
Brian: Maine 17, Jacksonville St. 14
What a contrast in styles this will/should be. On one hand we have the potentially electric offense of Jacksonville State against the staunch New England defense of Maine. With 48 hours to go until kickoff, it looks like it'll be chilly and overcast but not frigid, but there is a snow/rain mixture coming — if that speeds up it'll be a factor. The bottom line is, this is one of what I'd call one of five tossup games on Saturday. Which matchup will prevail? I'm going with host Maine and the elements by a hair.
James Madison at No. 8 Colgate
Chase: JMU 10, Colgate 6
This game could feature a lot of punting, y'all. I think the difference is that I trust JMU's passing game and special teams more. Colgate is an extremely effective run team, but Grant Breneman's health, plus poor weather in New York, is going to make it very difficult for the Raiders to pass against Jimmy Moreland & Co. JMU loads the box and challenges Colgate win via the passing game, while the Dukes do just enough on offense to scratch out a win.
Sam: JMU 21, Colgate 10
A late touchdown seals a tight battle for the Dukes. It's really hard to imagine either offense really finding a rhythm against two solid defenses. Really, this game comes down to one thing for me: the JMU offensive line. I don't know how you adjust things schematically or fix things in one week of practice, but the big boys obviously have to play better against good defenses. They need to play their best football to give this team a chance these next two possible games.
Brian: Colgate 17, James Madison 14
On my bracket, I picked James Madison here, but this week's news with the coaching situation hasn't me scratch my head about what effect that will have on JMU. I have to think JMU coach Mike Houston is fuming about the timing of the Houston-to-Charlotte leak, and I have to think the JMU players will be affected at least somewhat. On the flip side, Colgate is senior laden, plays staunch defense, and has done this before. Again, this is a 50/50 game and I'm going with the host based on this week's circumstances. What a circus JMU's dealt with this week.
COACHING TURMOIL: Houston to Charlotte? | JMU is Reliving North Dakota State's 2013 Nightmare
MORE PLAYOFFS: Our Remaining Title Favorites, Ranked 1 Through 16 | The CAA's Disappointing First Round