FCS Football Preview and Predictions: Week 5 Games of the Week
The FCS games of the week are so often toss-ups that it makes for, ahem, a 6-6 record like last week.
To have better luck this week, naturally we’re going with 13 games.
Yup, pick’em and hope for the best.
It also can’t hurt to get out the rabbit’s foot.
Led by the FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week, here are the Week 5 games of the week across FCS college football (all times ET on Saturday):
FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week/Southern: No. 12 Chattanooga (3-1, 1-0) at ETSU (2-2, 0-2)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Hold it up proudly, an oversized railroad tie goes to the winner of the “Rail Rivalry,” whose last four meetings have been decided by seven or fewer points. Defending SoCon champion ETSU can’t lose another conference game if it is going to remain a title factor. Chattanooga’s Ailym Ford (2,667) and ETSU’s Jacob Saylors (2,403) rank 1-2 among four active SoCon running backs with 2,000+ career rushing yards. The two defenses are the best in the conference against the run: Chattanooga allows just 100.2 yards per game and ETSU 119.8. The visiting Mocs have yet to allow a point in the fourth quarter, their defense led by DE Devonnsha Maxwell (33 career sacks) and LB Ty Boeck (259 career tackles). ETSU boasts DB Alijah Huzzie (eight interceptions and 21 pass breakups in 23 career games) and LB Chandler Martin (SoCon-high 45 tackles).
The Pick: ETSU
North Carolina Central (4-0) at Campbell (1-2)
Kickoff: Noon (ESPN+)
Notable: N.C. Central, the first team ranked outside the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 rankings, has seven straight wins, the subdivision’s longest active streak. Led by QB Davius Richard, the Eagles have converted an absurd 35 of 52 (67.3%) third downs. Campbell is coming off a bye after QB Hajj-Malik Williams passed for a career-high 300 yards against East Carolina. The Camels have struggled to defend the run (242.7 yards per game, 5.5 yards per carry).
The Pick: North Carolina Central
Ivy: Princeton (2-0, 0-0) at Columbia (2-0, 0-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: The Lions have won their first two games by a combined 80-9. The last time they beat Princeton, 28-24 in 2017, they went on to post one of their two best seasons (8-2, 5-2) since 1961. The Tigers haven’t lost a game in September or October since 2017 (Ivy schools didn’t play in 2020). All three of Blake Stenstrom’s touchdown passes have gone to WR Andrei Iosivas, an NFL prospect.
The Pick: Columbia
No. 10 Holy Cross (4-0) at Harvard (2-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Harvard gained four turnovers while winning last year’s matchup on the road 38-13. Crimson RB Aidan Borguet has opened his senior season as the Ivy League’s leading rusher (36 carries, 258 yards, three TDs). Holy Cross, which is riding its highest national ranking since 1991, is 17-4 since the spring 2021 season, including 7-0 when QB Matthew Sluka rushes for 2+ TDs and 13-1 when he throws for a TD.
The Pick: Holy Cross
CAA: No. 14 Villanova (2-2, 0-1) at Maine (0-3, 0-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloSports)
Notable: In the 25th all-time meeting (Villanova leads 14-10), Maine first-year coach Jordan Stevens seeks to collect his first win. ‘Nova ranks ninth in the FCS in rushing yards per game (245.8), including Jalen Jackson (187 yards, three TDs) coming off a career performance against Monmouth. But the drop-off in rushing defense has been stunning; The Wildcats allow 275.8 yards per outing, ranking last in the CAA by over 75 yards per game. Maine is often led by QB Joe Fagnano’s passing, but since the spring 2021 season, the Black Bears are 7-2 when their offense has 35+ carries and 1-8 below that total.
The Pick: Villanova
MVFC: No. 7 Missouri State (2-2, 0-1) at North Dakota (2-2, 1-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Having surrendered three straight games of 300+ passing yards, MSU looks quite vulnerable to efficient UND QB Tommy Schuster, who’s 10-1 at home as a starter with the lone loss to North Dakota State (he has 322 pass attempts in those games and been sacked only five times). Bears QB Jason Shelley, coming off a two-season-low 185 passing yards against South Dakota State, seeks to match the program record with a TD pass in a 10th straight game. He rallied the Bears past UND 32-28 last October with a TD run and pass in the final five minutes.
The Pick: Missouri State
Kennesaw State (1-2) at Jacksonville State (4-1)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Kennesaw State, which was ranked eighth in the preseason, had to hold off struggling Wofford 24-22 for its first win, but QB Jonathan Murphy excelled in his first start this season (28 carries, 138 yards, two TDs; 11 of 14, 107 yards). Since the program’s debut in 2015, the Owls are 61-12 when their triple option offense finishes with 200+ rushing yards and 3-8 when below it. With J’ville State one of two FCS teams to have played five games, QB Zion Webb is tied for the national lead in rushing TDs (nine). The Owls won the three previous meetings, including 60-52 in five overtimes in 2018.
The Pick: Jacksonville State
Southern: No. 16 Samford (3-1, 1-0) at Furman (3-1, 1-0)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Samford’s run of excellent QBs continues with junior-college transfer Michael Hiers, who leads the SoCon in passing yards per game (242.5) and TD passes (12). Furman has forced 13 turnovers to rank second in the FCS. Paladins dual-threat QB Tyler Huff will seek out TE Ryan Miller (28 receptions), who’s caught a TD in seven straight games since last November.
The Pick: Furman
CAA: No. 17 Richmond (3-1, 1-0) at No. 23 Elon (3-1, 1-0)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (My48/FloSports)
Notable: This is the week’s only game between two ranked teams. Richmond QB Reece Udinski has an FCS-best 78.6 completion percentage (125 of 159) while passing for 279.5 yards per game and 11 TDs against one interception. Elon will try to play keep-away with ball control, its average time of possession of 34 minutes, 6 seconds ranking eighth in the FCS. In the Phoenix’s last two wins, RB Jalen Hampton has a combined 62 carries for 313 yards and three TDs. He should meet up a lot with Spiders LB Tristan Wheeler, whose next tackle will be the 300th of his career.
The Pick: Elon
Stephen F. Austin (2-2) vs. Sam Houston (1-2) in Houston
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (Bally Sports Southwest)
Notable: FBS-bound Sam Houston has a 10-game winning streak in the “Battle of the Piney Woods,” but it needed a fourth-quarter rally in last year’s 21-20 escape. The Bearkats has struggled to pass the ball, averaging just 101 yards with just one TD pass and a 46.9 completion percentage. SFA is coming off a 98-0 win over NAIA member Warner. All-America WR Xavier Gipson has averaged 41.2 yards on 33 career TD catches.
The Pick: Stephen F. Austin
Big South: Bryant (1-3, 0-0) at North Carolina A&T (1-3, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Notable: Don’t sleep on the Big South’s first conference game – it will help shape the title race. N.C. A&T sophomore Bhaysul Tuten had 172 yards from scrimmage and three TDs in a win over South Carolina State, adding to big rushing performances against North Dakota State (127 yards) and Duke (133). LB Tyquan King has 9+ tackles in all four games. Just ahead of him is Bryant LB Joe Andreessen, the only FCS player to have 10+ tackles in four games this season.
The Pick: North Carolina A&T
MVFC: No. 19 Southern Illinois (2-2, 1-0) at Illinois State (2-1, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: SIU has posted two straight impressive wins behind QB Nic Baker’s seven TD passes, including four to FB Jacob Garrett. While the Salukis won last year’s matchup with ISU 35-17, they’ve dropped three in a row in Macomb. QB Zack Annexstad has either rushed or passed for all six of the Redbirds’ offensive touchdowns (they have three combined on interception and kickoff returns). LB Zeke Vandenburgh has filled the box score, including 30 tackles and five sacks for 45 yards in losses.
The Pick: Southern Illinois
Big Sky UC Davis (1-3, 0-1) at No. 4 Montana State (3-1, 1-0)
Kickoff: 10:15 p.m. (ESPNU)
Notable: The week’s final FCS game is just the second meeting between the programs since 2016. While UCD won in Bozeman in ’16, MSU is on a 14-game home winning streak. The Bobcats’ Sean Chambers leads FCS QBs in rushing yards (345) and is tied for the national lead in TDs (nine) while coming off the bench, but he will get the start with Tommy Mellot sidelined by a head injury. UCD’s 43.5 pass attempts per game represent the second-most of their FCS era (since 2004). Versatile RB Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. has 187 career receptions in addition to 3,800 rushing yards.
The Pick: Montana State
Last Week’s Record: 6-6 (.500)
Season Record: 36-16 (.692)