It's Friday, so that means FCS games are right around the corner.
As they'll do every week, Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder predict some scores. The two are turning this into a competition with the winner earning a to-be-determined prize in Frisco.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
Overall W/L Records:
Holy Cross @ Yale
Brian: Yale 24, Holy Cross 17
Man oh man are we glad to get this one. Hey, Holy Cross beat a solid CAA team in New Hampshire earlier this year. And now we get to see the Crusaders against what we think is the No. 1 Ivy League team coming in 2019 (unscathed — ugggh, injuries). Yale has a ton of talent back, in fact … there are a lot of familiar names from the 2017 Yale title team. I think Yale wins this one, but I think Holy Cross furthers its claim that it is a legit Patriot League contender and could win its first title (and FCS playoff berth) since 2009. This should be a good one.
Sam: Yale 27, Holy Cross 24
This is a great nonconference matchup between Holy Cross, who I think is the top team in the Patriot League now, and Yale, my favorite in the Ivy League. Yale has so much firepower coming back and experience all across the starting lineup. I think this is the start of a special season.
Mercer @ No. 17 Furman
Brian: Furman 28, Mercer 7
At this point I think Furman is the run-away favorite in the SoCon. I couldn't care less the Paladins are 1-2. This is a legit monster here in the FCS. I think Furman is a playoff seed come November … and Mercer is no slouch. This might be the year the Bears break out of their 6-5 routine and show everybody what they're made of. But this time? Furman rolls.
Sam: Furman 35, Mercer 17
The SoCon was a goofy league last year with teams beating up on each other. Furman looks like the top team in the conference right now and has to avoid letdown games against opponents it's favored to defeat. This is a good test to see what kind of consistency the Paladins have after battling back-to-back FBS teams.
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Duquesne @ Dayton
Brian: Duquesne 28, Dayton 27
We're looking at two potential auto bid teams here, so this one is a special matchup. Thank you FCS scheduling fates for setting this one up. This should be a great matchup. The winner? Gets a Top 25 vote on this ballot, that's for sure.
Sam: Duquesne 24, Dayton 21
Another matchup between teams we could see in the first round of the playoffs. Dayton put everyone on notice with its 42-35 win against ranked Indiana State a couple of weeks ago. But I see Duquesne coming out hungry after a disappointing performance at Youngstown State. Watch for A.J. Hines to bust loose in this one.
No. 4 UC Davis @ No. 1 North Dakota State
Brian: NDSU 28, UC Davis 27
My take is NDSU isn't a world-beater just yet, and UC Davis' week two hiccup (close game with San Diego) may have been a hangover dealio from being tied with the Pac 12's Cal late in the 3rd quarter in week one. Prepare yourselves for an interesting game here, folks, an FCS defining game.
Sam: NDSU 38, UC Davis 28
If the Aggies can get preseason All-American running back Ulonzo Gilliam going as they spread the Bison defense out, they're going to get their points. That type of offense can give NDSU trouble, but the question is whether All-American quarterback Jake Maier can escape pressure if the Bison bring the heat. A spread offense with a mobile QB has led to success for opposing offenses. And on the flip-side, can the UC Davis defense hold strong from start to finish? NDSU will try to do what it does best and wear down a team so it can own the fourth quarter. I haven't seen the evidence yet that the Aggies can hang in there defensively, and that's the difference in this game.
RELATED: UC Davis Will Reveal What Kind Of Team It Is Against NDSU
No. 2 James Madison @ Chattanooga
Brian: JMU 35, Chattanooga 10
James Madison outrushed West Virginia in the Mountaineers' own backyard 172-34. FCS teams don't do that to P5 teams. Trust me. If the Dukes don't commit a few turnovers they come away from Morgantown with a win in front of 62,000 pissed off Mountaineer fans singing John Denver songs (one of my Dad's favs, BTW). This is a strong JMU team, folks, that's why I'll continue to rank it No. 1 until proven otherwise. Did it in 2016 too, when nobody else did.
Sam: JMU 42, Chattanooga 14
Chattanooga is a solid team that I think has the talent to be in the playoffs. But a brutal nonconference slate has the Mocs at 1-2. If the Dukes want to show they're a legit national title contender, this is the type of game they can make a statement. By dominating a good Chattanooga team, that puts the FCS on notice that this team is on a mission in 2019.
Harvard @ San Diego
Brian: Harvard 24, San Diego 21
This is a really, really interesting game. USD sure as hell pushed UC Davis and we know nothing about Harvard coming into its first game … except that the Crimson recruit like an FBS program. I just flipped a coin on this one.
Sam: San Diego 35, Harvard 31
USD is incredibly tough to beat at home, as shown by the near win against UC Davis on Sept. 7. It's a long trip for Harvard team kicking off the season with questions in the passing game with its top passer and top three pass catchers gone from last year. The Toreros get a narrow win here.
Charleston Southern @ No. 25 The Citadel
Brian: The Citadel 35, CSU 7
The Battle of Charleston reminds us of some nasty playoff games from a few years ago (and of course they did play last year). This game must be played every year, CSU and El Cid. It has to happen. Glad all the ill feelings are in the past and we get to see this one. But this year? It's lopsided.
Sam: The Citadel 28, CSU 10
You never know what can happen in a rivalry game like this. But The Citadel proved how good of an 0-2 team it was last week with an FBS win against Georgia Tech. CSU is giving up 48.3 points per game and allowing 384.7 rushing yards per game. That's not too ideal when facing a triple-option offense.
No. 18 Villanova @ No. 5 Towson
Brian: Villanova 20, Towson 17
Oh my. Losing Shane Simpson is so massive for Towson. What a special, special player. That's the thing about the FCS … these kinds of massive injuries? This isn't Clemson or Alabama. That's the big question here. Villanova has been decimated by injuries the past couple of years and this week? The Wildcats may benefit from a big-time loss by the Tigers, at least until they figure out what they want to do next? Shane is a great kid, hate to see the season-ending injury. Could this be an FCS Playoff rematch? Yes.
Sam: Towson 24, Villanova 14
I picked against Nova once already this season and the Wildcats went on to beat Colgate. They're now 3-0, but their opponents have a combined record of 0-9. Meanwhile, even with the news of All-American all-purpose stud Shane Simpson being out for the year with a torn ACL, Towson carries a ton of momentum into this game after a beat-down on No. 7 Maine. Points won't be easy against this Nova defense. But it wasn't supposed to be easy against Maine's D and the Tigers scored 45 points. This game is now at home and I think Towson scores late to seal this great matchup.
Northern Arizona @ No. 15 Illinois State
Brian: Illinois State 35, NAU 7
I think James Robinson may be one of the scariest threats in the FCS this year. He's a P5 caliber running back and the NFL knows it. Really no reason to go beyond that.
Sam: Illinois State 28, NAU 27
I was very close to picking NAU here, but with this game being at Illinois State, I give a slight edge to the Redbirds. But this does feel like the type of head-scratching loss that ISU has every year, ya know? And NAU is no joke. Case Cookus is back at quarterback and reminding us all that he's one of the most gifted passers at this level. On Illinois State's side, its passing attack hasn't impressed too much so far. But NAU's defense is nothing to fear and I believe James Robinson is set for a big day.
Prairie View A&M @ Alcorn State
Brian: Alcorn State 28, Prairie View A&M 14
I've been a tad bit surprised by Alcorn State's start, but it still doesn't diminish what I think is the potential of this program (HBCU National Title frontrunners). We knew the opening month of Alcorn's slate wouldn't exactly be kind, and honestly? It may be playing its toughest HBCU opponent this weekend. Prairie View is a rock-solid program under Coach Dooley and Nicholls found that out this past weekend. Could this be the preview of the SWAC Championship game on Dec. 7? Yep, absolutely … put that in ink.
Sam: Alcorn State 31, Prairie View A&M 27
What a great game this early in the season. Alcorn is so loaded with standout players from last year's team. I was high on the Braves coming into this season and last week's 17-14 loss to McNeese was one that surprised me. I predicted Alcorn to handle business there. And while PV A&M is going to present a big-time challenge, I believe the Braves make a statement here.
RELATED: HBCU Week 4 Picks
NEXT: Top 15 Favorites To Win The National Title After Week 3
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