After the wild day of results in FCS college football last Saturday – eight ranked teams lost games, six to unranked opponents – feel free to stop and catch your breath.
One, two, three … OK, time’s up.
Seriously, with conference schedules in full flight, it’s hard for anybody to find a break.
The intensity level is ramped up, and surely an FCS fan wouldn’t want it any other way.
SoCon: No. 11 Western Carolina (4-1, 2-0) at No. 24 Chattanooga (4-1, 3-0)
FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: This 49th meeting between the two programs is the first when both are nationally ranked. WCU’s season-ending, 32-29 win over Chattanooga last year basically kept the Mocs out of the FCS playoffs. The visiting Catamounts rank No. 1 in the FCS in offensive yards per game (528) and tied for sixth in points per game (39.2). In their four-game winning streak, running back Desmond Reid has averaged 156.3 rushing yards per game and scored nine of his 10 touchdowns this season. The Mocs think run first with Ailym Ford and Gino Appleberry, but UCLA QB transfer Chase Artopoeus has improved offensive efficiency while passing for 1,307 yards and nine touchdowns. Chattanooga has a SoCon-leading 15 sacks, but WCU has allowed only three, tied for the conference low.
The Pick: Chattanooga
Ivy: Cornell (2-1, 1-0) at No. 21 Harvard (3-0, 1-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday (ESPN2)
Notable: Cornell has not won at Harvard Stadium since 2000, a span of 10 straight visits. Big Red quarterback Jameson Wang is averaging 300.7 yards of total offense per game, which ranks second in the Ivy League. Harvard, one of three unbeaten FCS teams, boasts the league’s top two rushers: RB Shane McLaughlin (110-yard average) and QB Charles DePrima (100). AJ Lopez was the Week 5 FedEx Ground FCS National Defensive Player of the Week.
The Pick: Harvard
(Welcome, Crimson: Here’s the full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll)
Pioneer: Butler (4-1, 2-0) at St. Thomas (3-2, 2-0)
Under-the-Radar Game of the Week
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (Midco Sports+/FOX 9+)
Notable: Butler’s offense ranks No. 2 in the PFL behind dual-threat QB Bret Bushka, the league’s 2022 offensive player of the year, and Eastern Kentucky transfer Jyran Mitchell, who has 57 carries in two league games and a rushing average (128.2) that ranks third in the FCS. Defending champ St. Thomas is 16-2 in PFL games since becoming a member in 2021 and owns a 28-game home winning streak since 2017. Tak Tateoka has passed for two TDs in each of the Tommies’ two PFL wins.
The Pick: Butler
Lafayette (4-1) at Princeton (2-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Lafayette has only lost to Duke during its best start since 2009, and sophomore Jamar Curtis had over 100 rushing yards in each of the four FCS wins. The Leopards, however, have dropped 12 straight meetings with Princeton, including 23-2 last year. Tigers linebacker Ozzie Nicholas has a team-high 31 tackles for a defense that ranks first in the FCS in total defense (194 yards per game) and third in rushing defense (59 per game) and scoring defense (11.7 points per game).
The Pick: Princeton
No. 14 North Carolina Central (4-1) at No. 25 Elon (3-2)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (Flo Sports/WMYV)
Notable: In their first meeting since 2012, both teams enter off a rousing win: NCCU, 49-48 in overtime against Campbell, and Elon, 14-6 over then-No. 5 William & Mary. NCCU, which is one win shy of 500 all-time, has an average time of possession (34 minutes, 50 seconds) that ranks fifth in the FCS. Elon also seeks ball control with RB Jalen Hampton (1,615 rushing yards in 16 career games); the Phoenix get sacks (17) and allow them (15).
The Pick: North Carolina Central
Big South-OVC: No. 18 UT Martin (4-1, 1-0) at Eastern Illinois (4-1, 0-0)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: EIU holds a 15-13 series lead. UTM sophomore Sam Franklin ranks No. 1 in the FCS with an average of 157 rushing yards per game, and it’s 184.8 when taking out the Georgia loss. EIU, on its first three-game winning streak since 2017, has a defense that’s bent (379 yards per game) without breaking (17.8 points per game), with 13 turnovers gained (third-most in the FCS) a big part of it.
The Pick: UT Martin
SWAC: Grambling State (3-2, 2-0) at Alcorn State (2-3, 1-1)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Notable: Grambling QB Myles Crawley, an Alabama State transfer, has 10 touchdown passes to just one interception – a difference maker for a team that’s on its first three-game winning streak since 2019. Alcorn has split its last two games by the same 23-20 score. Linebacker Terreance Ellis has at least seven tackles in each of his last 11 games, and 143 overall stops in two seasons (16 games) with the Braves.
The Pick: Grambling State
Southland: Southeastern Louisiana (0-5, 0-1) at No. 9 UIW (3-1, 0-0)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: It’s basically now or never for winless SLU, the favorite in the Southland preseason poll. The Lions defense has been dented for 226 rushing yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. UIW’s play calling is balanced with 135 carries (five sacks) and 136 pass attempts. Transfer QB Zach Calzada’s go-to receiver is Brandon Porter (23 catches).
The Pick: UIW
Southeast Missouri (1-3) at No. 23 Central Arkansas (3-2)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Since the start of the 2022 season, only Monmouth’s Jaden Shirden (2,258) has more rushing yards than UCA’s ShunDerrick Powell (2,255) and SEMO’s Geno Hess (1,944). Powell was attending North Alabama last year when SEMO outrushed UCA 205-16 in a 35-27 triumph, which gave the Redhawks an 8-7-1 series lead. SEMO is plus-six in turnover margin despite its 1-3 record (two late losses).
The Pick: Central Arkansas
MVFC: No. 6 Southern Illinois (4-0, 1-0) at Youngstown State (2-2, 0-1)
Kickoff: 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: SIU QB Nic Baker has 7,773 career passing yards, just 122 shy of the school record. The Salukis turned the ball over seven times while losing the last two meetings. YSU’s Mitch Davidson has passed for 339 and 332 yards in the Penguins’ last two games, with wide receivers C.J. Charleston and Bryce Oliver both over 100 receiving yards in a win over Robert Morris. The Penguins are 7-1 at home the last two seasons.
The Pick: Southern Illinois
Big Sky: No. 17 Montana (4-1, 1-1) at No. 20 UC Davis (3-2, 1-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (ESPN+/Scripps/KQCA My58)
Notable: It’s more than the predicted temperatures that will bring the heat to the first meeting since 2019. Montana QB Clifton McDowell accounted for 226 yards of total offense and two TDs while making his first start against Idaho State. The Grizzlies have allowed 16 sacks for 143 yards in losses. With leading rusher Lan Larison sidelined by injury, UCD all-purpose threat Trent Tompkins provided 89 yards and two TDs on the ground against Cal Poly.
The Pick: Montana
MVFC: No. 1 South Dakota State (4-0, 1-0) at Illinois State (3-1, 1-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (ESPN+/Marquee SN)
Notable: The top-ranked Jackrabbits have scored in all 16 trips inside an opponent’s red zone this season, and they’ve been successful in 62 straight since last season (49 TDs, 13 field goals). Mark Gronowski threw his 50th career TD pass in 42-21 win over North Dakota (to Jaxon Janke, who has a reception in 38 straight games). The Redbirds haven’t allowed a point in the first quarter and only one field goal in the third. Linebacker Amir Abdullah has seven tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
The Pick: South Dakota State
SWAC: No. 19 Florida A&M (4-1, 3-0) at Southern (2-2, 2-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Notable: FAMU, which has won the last three meetings since 2019, sits in first place in the East Division, while defending West champ Southern is tied atop its division race. Rattlers QB Jeremy Moussa leads the SWAC in passing yards (1,244) and TD passes (10). Southern has been in low-scoring games, averaging just 17.8 points, but surrendering a conference-low 12.8 per game.
The Pick: Florida A&M
Last Week’s Record: 11-4 (.733)
Overall Record: 52-22 (.703)