Now that Taylor Swift is a full-fledged fan, maybe she should consider a football game on Saturday instead of Sunday.
You know, the Chiefs are going from destroying the Bears last weekend to facing the Jets this weekend, so every game on the FCS college football schedule is going to be a better option.
Fortunately for T-Swift, she can shake off the bad NFL game for some bad blood that’s brewing across FCS nation.
With the Game of the Week leading the way, here is a preview and predictions for the FCS’ best Week 5 matchups (all times ET on Saturday):
CAA Football: No. 5 William & Mary (4-0, 2-0) at Elon (2-2, 2-0)
FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (FloSports/WMYV)
Notable: Delaware is on a bye, so the W&M-Elon winner will claim sole possession of first place. The visiting Tribe are 9-1 in conference the last two seasons, but the loss was to Elon. Jalen Hampton rushed for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:07 left in the Phoenix’s 35-31 win, and it was one of his six games with 145+ rushing yards the last two seasons (including the last two weeks). W&M, the Week 4 FedEx Ground FCS National Team of the Week, has gone three straight games without surrendering an offensive touchdown, and its 170.3 yards allowed per game is top-ranked in the FCS. Defensive end Nate Lynn and linebacker John Pius have combined for 15 tackles for loss in four games after having 32 last year. Leading rusher Bronson Yoder is expected to miss the game due to an upper-body injury.
The Pick: William & Mary
Pioneer: St. Thomas (2-2, 1-0) at Dayton (2-2, 0-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (Facebook)
Notable: The visiting Tommies, who are 15-2 in PFL games since joining the league in 2021, are seeking crisper play, having committed seven turnovers in their last three games as well as 11 penalties in a 35-28 win over Morehead State last Saturday. Dayton, which is coming off six turnovers lost to San Diego, has utilized two quarterbacks regularly: Dante Casciola (four passing touchdowns) and Cole Dow (five rushing TDs).
The Pick: St. Thomas
Pioneer: San Diego (1-3, 1-0) at Davidson (2-2, 1-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Notable: Davidson overcame a late-season loss to San Diego (31-14) to earn its third straight FCS playoff bid last year. The Wildcats still think run first, but they have nine TD passes (starter Coulter Cleland has eight). This is hard to do: San Diego and its four opponents have the exact same conversion rates on third downs (33.3) and third downs (16.7). With safety Ruben Lopez producing three takeaways, the Toreros lead the FCS in turnover margin (plus-11).
The Pick: Davidson
Bryant (2-2) at No. 24 Rhode Island (2-2)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloSports)
Notable: Less than 40 miles separate the campuses as the two programs meet for the third consecutive season, with URI leading 3-0 all-time in the series. The game features an excellent QB matchup with Bryant’s Zevi Eckhaus (52 career TD passes, including three against the Rams last season) and URI’s Kasim Hill (63 total TDs in 29 games since spring 2021 season).
The Pick: Rhode Island
MVFC: South Dakota (2-1, 0-0) at No. 2 North Dakota State (3-0, 0-0)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+/ABC North Dakota/Midco Sports+)
Notable: NDSU beat USD 34-17 last year for its 12th straight conference-opening win, but the Bison will encounter a much-improved opponent. Quarterbacks Cam Miller and Cole Payton and running back TaMerik Williams are all over 150 rushing yards with multiple TD runs through three games, with the Bison yet to commit a turnover. The pash rush of defensive tackle Nick Gaes and linebacker Brendan Webb has spearheaded USD to two straight games without allowing a touchdown. Cornerback Myles Harden has forced eight turnovers in his last nine games.
The Pick: North Dakota State
(Here’s the full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll)
MVFC: No. 23 Youngstown State (2-1, 0-0) at Northern Iowa (1-2, 0-0)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+/Marquee Sports Network)
Notable: YSU was 6-16 to begin the 2020s decade, but has won seven of its last nine games since last October. In that stretch, QB Mitch Davidson has directed the offense to a 34-minute, 11-second average time of possession. UNI allowed five sacks in each of its first two games, but zero in a 41-17 win at Idaho State, when Theo Day passed for a career-high 388 yards as well as two TDs.
The Pick: Northern Iowa
MVFC: No. 12 North Dakota (2-1, 0-0) at No. 1 South Dakota State (3-0, 0-0)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+/Midco Sports)
Notable: As if defending FCS champion SDSU doesn’t have enough of an explosive offense, it is gaining big chunks of field position off returns: punts (nine returns for 23.2-yard average), kickoffs (four for 30.8 average) and interceptions (four for 118 combined yards). Quarterback Mark Gronowski has thrown for 49 TDs against only nine interceptions in his 28-game career. UND signal caller Tommy Schuster looks to wide receiver Bo Belquist, who has at least seven receptions in each of the Fighting Hawks’ three games (23 catches, 296 yards, two TDs).
The Pick: South Dakota State
CAA: No. 16 Villanova (3-1, 1-0) at UAlbany (2-2, 0-0)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (FloSports)
Notable: Villanova’s Matthew Mercurio kicked a game-ending, 28-yard field goal to win last year’s meeting 31-29. The Wildcats’ Connor Watkins ranks No. 2 among FCS quarterbacks in rushing TDs (six) and No. 1 in yards per completion (19.4). UAlbany has allowed only 85 rushing yards per game (No. 8 FCS ranking) and 2.6 yards per carry just one year after the averages were 183.1 and 5.3, respectively. Linebacker Dylan Kelly has reached double-figure tackles in all four games (48 overall).
The Pick: UAlbany
Campbell (2-2) at No. 15 North Carolina Central (3-1)
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: NCCU’s MEAC offensive player of the year QB Davius Richard has been sidelined by an ankle injury for the last seven quarters, but in his absence, Walker Harris passed for five TDs against Mississippi Valley State. Having faced four rushing-oriented opponents, Campbell’s defense has been on the field 36:19 on average. Nevertheless, QB Hajj-Williams’ 307.5 yards of total offense per game rank fifth-highest in the FCS.
The Pick: North Carolina Central
Big Sky: No. 4 Idaho (3-1, 1-0) at No. 19 Eastern Washington (2-2, 1-0)
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (ESPN+/SWX)
Notable: Idaho jumps right from ending Sacramento State’s 19-game conference winning streak to a trip to EWU’s Inferno, where the Vandals have lost in all three visits since their return to the Big Sky. While starting nine wins the last two seasons, QB Gevani McCoy has a 72.2 completion percentage, 22 TD passes to only four picks, and a 190.6 passer rating. Against a difficult schedule this season, EWU has dropped last year’s defensive averages – 504.2 yards and 40.4 points per game – to 401.5 and 30.5, respectively.
The Pick: Idaho
Harvard (2-0) vs. No. 6 Holy Cross (3-1)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. at Polar Park in Worcester, Massachusetts (ESPN+)
Notable: Holy Cross is 2-0 in games at the home of the Worcester WooSox, the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A team. The Crusaders beat Harvard 30-21 last season as part of their 19-game regular-season winning streak against FCS opponents, but the last loss was against the Crimson, 38-13 on Oct. 2, 2021. While QB Matthew Sluka is the most indispensable Crusader, RB Jordan Fuller leads the FCS in points per game (15) and LB Jacob Dobbs is No. 1 in tackles per game (15.8). Harvard RB Shane McLaughlin and QB Charles DePrima gained at least 95 rushing yards with one touchdown run in each of the first two games.
The Pick: Holy Cross
MVFC: Missouri State (1-2, 0-0) at No. 10 Southern Illinois (3-0, 0-0)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: SIU is the only unbeaten FCS team that has an FBS win on its resume (Northern Illinois). Nic Baker spreads the passes around, with six receivers between eight and 15 catches (Vinson Davis and Izaiah Hartrup share the team high). Sacks have been a problem for Missouri State QBs in recent seasons, but Bears’ opponents have only three in the first three games, allowing Ryan Clark to pass for 296.3 yards per game and nine TDs.
The Pick: Southern Illinois
Big South-OVC: Tennessee State (2-1, 1-0) at No. 22 UT Martin (3-1, 0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: TSU is coming off a bye following a 27-25 upset of Gardner-Webb on James Lowery’s 50-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining. During the Eddie George coaching era (since 2021), the Tigers are 10-4 with 100+ rushing yards, but 1-10 when below the century mark (including losses to UTM in 2021 and last season). UTM is averaging 47 points in three FCS wins. Sophomore Sam Franklin ranks No. 1 in the FCS in rushing yards (653) and rushing yards per game (163.3).
The Pick: UT Martin
SWAC: Grambling State (2-2, 1-0) vs. Prairie View A&M (2-2, 2-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas (ESPN+)
Notable: Prairie View has won the last five meetings of the State Fair Classic, although that was preceded by Grambling’s four straight wins in the series from 2014-17. Since the 2021 campaign, GSU is averaging 36.3 points in nine wins (46.5 this season) and only 14.4 in 17 losses (20.5 this season). The Tigers’ Chance Williams is ranked third in the SWAC in rushing yards per game (90.3) and PV’s Ahmad Antoine fourth (74.8). Carlos Villagomez has provided walk-off field goals in both Panthers’ wins.
The Pick: Prairie View A&M
UAC: No. 25 Central Arkansas (2-2, 1-0) at Southern Utah (1-3, 0-0)
Under-the-Radar Game of the Week
Kickoff: 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: UCA’s ShunDerrick Powell, the Week 4 FedEx Ground National FCS Offensive Player of the Week, has averaged 237 rushing yards and 314 all-purpose yards in the Bears’ last two games. Fellow RBs Darius Hale and Kylin James add to a rushing offense that has churned out 280 yards per outing, but SUU has surrendered only 66.8 rushing yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry. All seven of SUU QB Justin Miller’s TD passes have gone to WRs Zach Mitchell and Isaiah Wooden.
The Pick: Central Arkansas
Last Week’s Record: 9-5 (.643)
Overall Record: 41-18 (.695)