A full slate of games arrives for the 2019 FCS season.
As they'll do every week, Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder predict some scores.
Indiana State @ Kansas
Brian: Kansas 21, Indiana State 20
Don't tempt me here. Even with Les Miles on campus, I still think Kansas is at least a year or two away from relevance. It's going to be a tough fix. Maybe the Jayhawks should ask Coach Mallory at Indiana State how to do it … just a few years ago this Sycamores team was 0-fer, going to 0-11 … then last year it was 7-4 and on the verge of the playoffs. I'm very tempted to go with Indiana State on this one, but I'll say that this one goes down to the wire and the P5 wins because of depth. Again. For the 100th time. I swear, if football went 3.5 quarters (that doesn't really make sense mathematically if you think about it) …. more P5 teams would fall to FCS teams.
Sam: Indiana State 27, Kansas 24 (OT)
Kansas loses to an FCS team in overtime for the second straight year. Everyone knows about the struggles of the Kansas program and I don't think Les Miles is going to fix them in one year. Indiana State has the talent, experience and I think the confidence to get a win here.
James Madison @ West Virginia
Brian: WVU 21, JMU 20
Here we go again with temptation. If this game had been played last year, this would be a no-brainer — I would have picked West Virginia and Will Grier by multiple touchdowns. But Coach Dana has left the WVU building, the 'Eeers are rebuilding and James Madison is loaded and hungry after the way things ended last year. This one could be really, really interesting. Just like Kansas-Indiana State, I'm very tempted to go with the upset here (we wouldn't be picking this game if we didn't think that was possible). I'll stay conservative here, but not by much.
Sam: JMU 17, WVU 14
I've said 2019 is the #DukesYear and I think it starts with a win at West Virginia. JMU nearly beat North Carolina State last year. That NC State team finished 9-4 and is probably going to be better than this year's West Virginia team. I believe the 2019 Dukes are going to be much better than the 2018 Dukes. If JMU"s offensive line can rise to the occasion, I see another FBS win for this program.
Montana @ South Dakota
Brian: USD 35, Montana 28
These are two programs that seem right on the verge of prominence. They've both had their good times in recent years, like Montana's 2015 opening win over NDSU and playoff berth, and South Dakota's 2017 showing when Strevy was playing QB, but both these programs are still very, very hungry. This game could go a long way to building a case for an eventual FCS at-large berth. I think home-field is the difference in this Big Sky-MVFC Challenge affair.
Sam: Montana 31, South Dakota 27
I think Montana is set for a big step forward this season. The talent is legit and spread across all three phases of the game. And I still don't trust the USD defense or the offensive line. The Griz are known for quick starts to their season, and I believe they'll impress in this game.
RELATED: The Stakes Are High For Montana-USD
Towson @ The Citadel
Brian: Towson 38, The Citadel 35
I've had a chance to connect with both of these programs and I've come away thinking that this one is a biggie. These aren't exactly traditional rivals, and last year's Towson win was decisive in this game, but this weekend's game has the feel of almost an "August Playoff" game. Towson is loaded but plays a tough schedule, so it needs to collect victories because the CAA isn't going to give them any easy ones. The Citadel's in the same boat. It is experienced, but the SoCon is a gauntlet. This one is brutally tough to predict, other than the fact that we're going to see some points scored in this one.
Sam: Towson 35, The Citadel 31
Towson's run defense is a concern for me in this matchup. But I think the Tigers are going to play inspired in this game after last year's disappointing finish in the playoffs. The Citadel is a solid team this year. But Towson has more firepower.
Elon @ North Carolina A&T
Brian: Elon 28, NC A&T 21
These are both programs that tasted the postseason in 2018, with NC A&T winning the Celebration Bowl and Elon making its way to the FCS Playoffs despite major injuries. They're both good programs. The difference here, in my opinion, is a healthy Davis Cheek at QB for Elon and a solid Phoenix defense. But the memory of the Aggies knocking off Jacksonville State and East Carolina in back-to-back weeks last year has to have people tuning in, wondering how strong can this North Carolina A&T team can be. This will be another great matchup.
Sam: NC A&T 21, Elon 17
My preseason rankings suggest I should pick Elon here. But my gut tells me that NC A&T is going to prove us wrong, just like it did to start last season. It's a risky pick considering there are some major stars no longer on the NC A&T roster. The Aggies are a consistent program, though, and look to earn the respect of the FCS once again.
Alcorn State @ Southern Mississippi
Brian: Alcorn State 35, Southern Miss 31
Former Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson is the head coach at Southern Miss now, and he helped recruit a lot of the upperclassmen that make this Alcorn State team look so good on paper. That adds some spice to this game, as well as the news that Southern Miss' best offensive weapon — WR Quez Watkins — won't be playing in this game for undisclosed reasons. There's just something about this matchup that seems perfect for an FCS upset. North Carolina A&T has done it in recent years, Grambling State nearly did it against Arizona a few years back, Howard did it at UNLV two years ago … and I think Alcorn is going to be the most recent HBCU to knock off an FBS team. The stars seem to be aligning for it.
Sam: Southern Miss 28, Alcorn State 27
The fact that some sites have Alcorn State as 25+ point underdogs in this game is wild to me. It would not surprise me at all if Alcorn wins this game. But I do slightly lean toward Southern Miss here because it does have a good percentage of its production back off a 6-5 season.
RELATED: Alcorn's Core Embraces McNair Comparisons
Sam Houston State @ New Mexico
Brian: SHSU 42, New Mexico 38
Sam Houston State has upgraded its program in terms of strength and conditioning, that was one major point head coach K.C. Keeler made when he and I had a chance to sit down together at Southland media days. The Bearkats truly do look good coming into 2019, and they hated the taste in their mouths after going 6-5 and not being in the playoff discussion last fall. The Bearkats can certainly hang with New Mexico. This should be an excellent chance for Sam Houston State to knock off an FBS opponent and turn some heads. It should be a good game that could go either way.
Sam: SHSU 48, New Mexico 38
SHSU is bouncing back this year with 18 starters back on offense and defense. New Mexico was not good last year and allowed 36.2 points per game. The Bearkats are going to open eyes in this game and remind folks around the FCS of just how explosive this offense can be.
South Dakota State @ Minnesota
Brian: MN 28, SDSU 14
SDSU is going to be one of the top FCS teams in the country this year, but this one is a bit of a tall order for the Jackrabbits. But they'll go toe-to-toe with the Golden Gophers for a good chunk of this game, and they'll take away things that'll make them stronger for a brutal MVFC slate.
Sam: MN 24, SDSU 21
This is the best Minnesota team in a while. I also think this could be SDSU's best team as the Jacks look for another deep playoff run. SDSU redshirt freshman quarterback J'Bore Gibbs has all the talent in the world. But beating a Big Ten team on the road in his first collegiate action may be asking too much. There are also a lot of new names on the SDSU offensive line and in the secondary, and I believe the Gophers can exploit that.
Southern Illinois @ SEMO
Brian: SEMO 31, SIU 21
SEMO was one of the big stories of 2018 and has the potential to be again in 2019. The Redhawks return a stud in 2018 Buck Buchanan Award winner Zach Hall, who was voted the No. 1 defensive player in the FCS last year while piling up the tackles. And the quarterback is back behind center. SEMO has some holes to fill, but don't forget this program led the nation in turnover margin last year. If some new names step up in key positions, this could be a team to watch.
Sam: SEMO 48, SIU 35
SIU always impresses in the nonconference despite not finishing with a very good overall record. The Salukis pushed Ole Miss last year before injuries took its toll on the team. SEMO wants to return to the playoffs and has a lot of experience coming back. Losing to a bottom MVFC team would definitely hurt its playoff resume as the OVC looks for multiple bids again.
NEXT: FCS Schedule Visualized
Listen to this week's episode of B-Mac and Herd's FCS Podcast.
SUBSCRIBE: B-Mac and Herd's FCS Podcast