We're at the end of the workweek, so that means FCS games are right around the corner.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
Overall W/L Records:
No. 9 Furman @ No. 21 Wofford
Brian: Wofford 28-21
This is a tough one. Folks, first of all? This is the first football rivalry in South Carolina state history, as these two next-door neighbors (trust me on the distance, I grew up in the Greenville-Spartanburg area) first met in 1889. This is a big one, with a short drive to attend. Furman hasn't won in Spartanburg in 13 years. My other concern for the Paladins? They haven't exactly put teams away the past month (aside from VMI, which I will admit was impressive last weekend). The Citadel shut Furman down. Furman needed a lot of run-game help to grind down a limping Western Carolina team, too. The QB situation seems a bit up-and-down over the past month after some very impressive showings in September. I just feel like Wofford has figured its "ish" out since those two early September losses. And the Terriers are at home. This will be a good one, folks. Wofford wins a close one and then heads to The Citadel in the final week to try to seal up the SoCon auto bid.
Sam: Furman 21-17
This looks like the biggest game in the SoCon this year. Furman is 6-1 in the conference standings and 7-1 overall against the FCS. Wofford is 5-1 in the standings, 6-2 against FCS opponents and has won six straight games against the subdivision. The Paladins have been hit-and-miss at times this season and have played both Hamp Sisson and Darren Grainger at QB, both redshirt freshmen. The 60-21 win last week against VMU creates some optimism, but that's the same team Wofford defeated 51-26 in late September. But I am a little more confident with Furman's defense that ranks 12th in the FCS with 19.4 points allowed per game. I think that side of the ball carries the Paladins to a road win.
No. 3 Weber State @ No. 5 Montana
Brian: Montana 28-24
With Dalton Sneed re-emerging for Montana last weekend in the Idaho win, I have to say this: If Sneed does what he was doing prior to being injured against Sacramento State in mid-October … and he can lead the Griz to wins over Weber State and Montana State in the Brawl of the Wild next week? My goodness, that might just make the Walter Payton Award race turn on its ear. If Sneed is ready for Weber State's defense — easily the toughest in the Big Sky and one of the best in the entire FCS — this one should be interesting. Weber State is a tough out, there's no question, but I have a feeling about this one and the home team. Then the big question emerges … what about the final week?
Sam: Montana 28-27
This is a chance for the Griz to grab a huge resume-boosting win and show how legit they are. There are a lot of matchups to watch for in this game. Montana's offensive line has improved after struggling last year, but how well does it hold up against a tremendous defensive front? How does the young Weber secondary do against one of the top passing attacks in the FCS? UND threw for nearly 300 yards last week in a near-upset at Weber. And two of Weber's top three rushers were knocked out of last week's game, including Josh Davis. If they can't go, how much success can the Wildcats have on offense? If this game is played in Ogden, I'd go with Weber. But I'll go with Montana here in an electric home atmosphere.
No. 4 Northern Iowa @ No. 8 South Dakota State
Brian: SDSU 17-16
I think South Dakota State is probably pretty happy to have this one at home. If it was in Iowa? It might be a different story when it boils down to the pick here. I think the punch in the mouth came last weekend for SDSU … the Illinois State loss. I have a hunch the Jacks will find a way to survive this game and move on and likely finish 9-3 (sorry 'Yotes). It should be a slobber-knocker, but SDSU's staunch run game and defense did prove against NDSU that it can hang in a game without having the star QB in the lineup. To counter? UNI can shut down the run. I just don't see SDSU losing two games in a row like this. Brace yourselves for a low-scoring nail-biter.
Sam: SDSU 21-17
To me, the winner of this game (assuming they handle business next week) is a playoff seed and the loser is playing on Thanksgiving weekend. UNI skated by last week with a 19-7 win against Indiana State. It wasn't the prettiest of wins. What was even uglier was SDSU's performance in a 27-18 home loss to Illinois State. A have big concerns with SDSU's offensive line after that game, but I've also seen this unit play really well. Averaging 2.5 yards per carry like last week just isn't going to get it done, especially with a true freshman at quarterback and especially against a solid UNI defense. I don't expect a high-scoring game as the Jacks are pretty dang good on defense themselves. But I do think the Jacks figure some things out and get a much-needed win at home.
No. 10 Montana State @ UC Davis
Brian: UC Davis 35-27
Remember in the preseason when we thought UC Davis was one of the strongest FCS teams in the nation? Well, the truth is the Aggies have fixed things in the past month after falling to some pretty good programs early on. If the Aggies somehow pull this win off, they'll have won four of the last five and forced a top-five seed (Weber State) to kick a ton of field goals to beat them in the lone loss. I have a bad feeling about this one for Montana State. I think the Aggies are hungry and as Admiral Ackbar said (Google it, Millennials) … MSU? "It's a trap!"
Sam: Montana State 35-24
UC Davis is at home and is going to lay it all on the line. The Aggies are 5-5 overall and 5-4 against the FCS. If they defeat Montana State this week and knock off No. 6 Sac State next weekend, I believe the Aggies are in the field. And look, while this team hasn’t lived up to preseason expectations, the talent is still there on this roster. But MSU’s offense has come alive these last two weeks with a combined 87 points against SUU and N. Colorado. Now, you can take that with a grain of salt since those are two struggling teams. But UC Davis’ defense isn’t its team strength. The Aggies rank 79th in the FCS with 29.8 points allowed per game and 83rd with 178.6 rushing yards allowed per game. MSU keeps it rolling into a huge Brawl of the Wild game.
McNeese @ No. 24 Nicholls
Brian: Nicholls 27-17
Do you like roller coasters? The Southland Conference championship race has been like that for a few weeks now but will it finish that way? Here's the thing … Nicholls has been a solid player in the FCS now for four seasons. The overall body of work has been solid. This program has pushed P5 programs (and beaten one) and done what it had to do to make the playoffs the past two seasons. I just have a feeling the Colonels are ready to shake off the up-and-down struggles and firmly establish themselves. Nicholls has two FBS losses. Those will be forgotten come playoff time. They have two head-scratching Southland losses. That will NOT be forgotten come playoff time. Nicholls … if you want to be seriously considered this postseason, you're going to need to finish on a four-game winning streak and be 8-2 vs. FCS competition. It begins this week in a big rivalry game at home, then next Thursday they travel to SE Louisiana for a big one.
Sam: Nicholls 27-20
It’s a mess at the top of the Southland standings. Four teams sit at 5-2, including Nicholls, with McNeese right there at 4-3. McNeese is 6-4 overall, but five of those wins came at home and the Cowboys have a 1-3 road record. Nicholls seems to be picking up some steam with a two-game winning streak after dropping a couple of Southland games in a row. I'll take the Colonels here.
The Citadel @ Chattanooga
Brian: Chattanooga 27-24
These games are killin' me this week! I have a feeling about Chattanooga this week. Full disclosure, I felt very strongly about these two programs in the preseason. I pushed hard with Sam to have Chatty at No. 19 and The Citadel at No. 25 in our preseason national polls. I liked their personnel coming back. 'Nooga had to face a brutal nonconference schedule, and they've fallen (but put up a fight) in SoCon play against front-runners Wofford and Furman. The Citadel has also had its bright spots but also some hiccups. Man oh man, you two, what could have been. But I just can't see El Cid going into 'Nooga and getting away with a win this weekend. Another big game with playoff implications (mostly for El Cid): To me? This game sums up the SoCon and its penchant for "eating its own" the past several years.
Sam: The Citadel 21-17
If the SoCon wants a potential third team to get into the playoffs outside of Furman and Wofford, I think The Citadel can be that team. But it needs a win Saturday. The Bulldogs are 5-4 against the FCS plus an FBS win. They have won four straight games, averaging 32 points in those wins. Chattanooga already has five losses, although one is to Tennessee. The Mocs have rebounded well from a tough nonconference schedule, but I like The Citadel to win this one.
No. 20 Towson @ William & Mary
Brian: Towson 35-21
A truly intriguing CAA matchup to make this league even more dizzying than it already has been, and folks, that's really saying something. William & Mary isn't a pushover this year, but … I'm a firm believer at this point that Towson closes out with four straight wins, hits the 8-win mark and makes the playoffs as a dangerous at-large team out of the CAA.
Sam: Towson 35-21
Towson has been in must-win mode for a couple of weeks now after sitting at 4-4 overall and 4-3 against the FCS. The Tigers have since won two straight against Delaware and Stony Brook, scoring 31 points in both games. W&M has made some nice improvements this season, but I believe Towson is too talented to drop this game.
New Hampshire @ Albany
Brian: Albany 28-24
If you look at these two schools' scores, you'll realize how comparable these two teams are. That's why I'm going with home-field advantage as the reasoning for my Albany pick. The Great Danes are seven points away from 8-2 right now, and they'll have one FBS loss tossed (Central Michigan) if they're in the playoff discussion in about 10 days. Next week's road trip to Stony Brook will be like the 17th chapter of the 2019 book about how tough the CAA is, but first things first, they're at home this weekend. Another good one, sound like a broken record yet?
Sam: UNH 28-27
Two teams sitting at 4-2 in the CAA here. To me, this is a must-win for UNH. The Wildcats have five wins right now with two games to go. I don't see a 6-win team making the field this year. We'll see if UNH can recover from its humbling 54-16 loss to JMU last week. But I like its defense to slow down a good Albany offense.
Bethune-Cookman @ No. 25 North Carolina A&T
Brian: NC A&T 35-28
Both of these schools are coming off head-scratching losses to MEAC teams at the bottom of the standings. But it's time to wake up and figure out who wants to represent the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl since the league-leading FAMU Rattlers will not be able to go (self-imposed sanctions). Also, don't forget that South Carolina State is still in this discussion. Man oh man is this a big game … NC A&T may have slipped up against Morgan State, but it still has a win over S.C. State and could all but lock things up this weekend (unless N.C. Central is another hiccup next week). The MEAC is a hot potato! Does anybody want to put on an oven mitt and grab this? I think the veterans will be happy to put that mitt on.
Sam: NC A&T 35-24
I think the Aggies come out a little pissed off after last week’s 22-16 loss to Morgan State. With both of these teams tied at 4-2 in the MEAC standings with South Carolina State, NC A&T needs this win. And this team is too good to miss out on another Celebration Bowl appearance.
No. 17 Monmouth @ Campbell
Brian: Monmouth 35-10
This is one of the rare "pick 'em" games that again, I just don't see being close. Does it impact the Big South race mathematically? Absolutely. But I think Monmouth travels down to the Carolinas this weekend and has a really fun ride home after it wins the Big South title this weekend. Kudos to the Hawks and the job Coach Cal and his staff have done. And I do think that Albany win early in the year will look better and better as we wrap the season.
Sam: Monmouth 38-21
I think Monmouth rolls here. Campbell showed us something with a competitive game last week against Kennesaw State. I just think the Hawks are …. soaring … right now. They’ve scored 45, 49, 35, 45 and 49 points against Big South opponents. That’s going to continue.
Robert Morris @ No. 19 CCSU
Brian: CCSU 27-10
Robert Morris has been one of the upstart stories of the FCS this year, but Central Connecticut State is one fluke play against an FBS team from being 10-0 and a potential 12-0 (and scary) NEC champ matchup for some unsuspecting CAA team two days after Thanksgiving. Kudos to the Colonials and their turnaround this year, and how tough they scheduled. Plan on RMU being a major player in the near future. But CCSU has the potential to do what Duquesne did last year in the postseason.
Sam: CCSU 24-14
Robert Morris is a heckuva story. From not winning an NEC game these last couple of season to being tied at the top of the standings with CCSU at 5-0, the turnaround has been fantastic. RMU proved me wrong last week when I picked Duquesne to win. But I’m confident that CCSU gets a win here. The Blue Devils have been playing so well this year despite a 38-31 scare last week against Saint Francis. CCSU is allowing just 18.2 points per game while scoring 32.7. Notch another win for this team to remain undefeated against FCS opponents.
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