When you see how good the FCS college football schedule is from week to week, it’s easy to look ahead and envision the big showdowns coming up the following week and the bigger ones ahead even a week later.

Hold on a second, this is the FCS, where conference results tend to be wild and wacky, and the big ones down the line don’t necessarily materialize after the dust settles with upsets.

Yes, this is the fun part of the regular season because you don’t want to lose to a rival in your own backyard, especially with a conference title to be won in the next month or so.  

With the regular season moving past the halfway point, here are the FCS’ best Week 7 matchups (all times ET on Saturday):

MVFC: No. 6 North Dakota State (4-1, 1-1) at No. 15 North Dakota (3-2, 1-1)

FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week

Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+/ABC North Dakota/Midco Sports Network)

Notable: UND holds a 62-50-3 lead in a series that dates back to 1894, but NDSU has won all five meetings on the Division I level. Both teams avoid turnovers, with NDSU having committed only one – the FCS low – and UND just three. The visiting Bison rank second in the MVFC and fourth nationally in rushing yards per game (256.6), with quarterbacks Cam Miller and Cole Payton rushing for six touchdowns each. Miller leads the FCS in completion percentage (78.5), but UND’s Tommy Schuster (career 67.1%) hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 209 attempts. NDSU safety Cole Wisniewski is tied for the FCS high with four interceptions, and UND linebacker Wyatt Pedrigo shares the national high with three fumble recoveries while also leading the Fighting Hawks with 31 tackles. There’s a difference on field goals: NDSU’s Griffin Crosa is 6-for-7 and UND did not make its only attempt. UND has won 22 of its last 24 games inside the Alerus Center.

The Pick: North Dakota State


Pioneer: Davidson (3-2, 2-0) at Butler (4-2, 2-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloSports)

Notable: Davidson, riding a three-game winning streak and coming off a bye, won last year’s game 31-0. The Wildcats rank No. 1 in the PFL in points per game (45.2) and offensive yards per game (489), while Butler is No. 2 (28.8 and 381.2, respectively). The host Bulldogs, allowing 132.7 rushing yards per game, will be tasked by a Mari Adams-led Davidson rushing attack that ranks No. 2 in the FCS (313 yards per game).

The Pick: Davidson

Howard (2-3) at No. 19 Harvard (4-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: Harvard, celebrating its 150th season of football, is one of two unbeaten FCS teams along with South Dakota State (5-0). Two of Howard’s losses are to FBS programs Eastern Michigan and Northwestern by a combined 13 points. Crimson QB Charles DePrima, this past week’s FedEx Ground FCS National Offensive Player of the Week, has been responsible for 21.5 points per game on rushes and passes, the FCS’ best per-game average.   

The Pick: Harvard

SoCon: No. 5 Furman (4-1, 2-0) at Samford (3-3, 2-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: Furman has won 11 of its last 12 SoCon games, losing only to Samford 34-27 last season. The Paladins have forced at least one turnover in each game this season (Travis Blackshear and Cally Chizik lead with two interceptions each) and in 33 of their last 35 overall. Samford QB Michael Hiers has 105 completions in the Bulldogs’ last three games, but also seven interceptions in their last four overall.

The Pick: Furman

SoCon: VMI (2-3, 1-1) at The Citadel (0-6, 0-3)

Under-the-Radar Game of the Week

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN+)

Notable: In the “Military Classic of the South,” The Citadel has leaped to a 44-32-2 series lead by winning 14 of the last 16 meetings, including the last two. This season, the Bulldogs average just eight points and 234.7 yards per game and have allowed 41 points and 499 yards on average – all last-place rankings in the SoCon. VMI seeks to end a 10-game road losing streak. Linebacker Evan Eller has 10+ tackles in six of his last eight games.  

The Pick: VMI

CAA: No. 24 UAlbany (4-2, 2-0) at New Hampshire (2-3, 0-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloSports)

Notable: UA linebacker Dylan Kelly was named FedEx Ground FCS National Defensive Player of the Week after posting an FCS season-high 23 tackles against Towson – the Great Danes’ third straight win. It’s quite the QB matchup: UA’s Reese Poffenbarger has 36 TD passes against only seven interceptions in 17 career games, while UNH’s Max Brosmer has a 14-to-1 ratio this season. UNH RB/returner Dylan Laube’s 247.4 all-purpose yards per game are 66.4 yards higher on average than any other FCS player.  

The Pick: New Hampshire

CAA: Elon (3-3, 3-0) at Villanova (4-2, 2-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloSports)

Notable: Elon, which holds the top spot in the crowded CAA standings, is a mere 24-for-87 (27.6%) on third down conversions, but 14-for-18 (77.8) on fourth down attempts. After ranking No. 2 in the FCS in yards per completion last season, Villanova’s Connor Watkins is No. 1 this season (17.3). The Wildcats spread the carries, with DeeWil Barlee, Jalen Jackson and TD Ayo-Durojaiye all at 45+ carries this season and 250+ in their careers.

The Pick: Villanova

Gardner-Webb (2-3) at Austin Peay (3-2)

Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: G-W won the only previous meetings in 2007 and ’08. No FCS team has lost more fumbles than the Runnin’ Bulldogs with 10, and they’re minus-7 in turnover margin. Running back Jayden Brown has a pair of three-touchdown games, and three of the six scores are on receptions. AP’s 440.4 yards per game would be a program record over a full season. Quarterback Mike DiLiello’s 292 yards of total offense per game rank No. 8 in the FCS, and he’s accounted for 14 TDs (12 passing, two rushing).

The Pick: Austin Peay

MVFC: No. 23 Youngstown State (3-2, 1-1) at No. 10 South Dakota (4-1, 2-0)

Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: YSU enters off a blowout of then-No. 6 Southern Illinois and USD has a win over then-No. 2 North Dakota State. YSU RB Tyshon King, a Northern Michigan transfer, has three 100+ rushing performances and eight TDs. The visiting Penguins’ 3.8 sacks per game rank fourth in the FCS (Alex Howard and Anthony Johnson have four each). USD is ranked third in the FCS in fewest points allowed per game (13.4), boasting six players with 25+ tackles (linebacker Brock Mogensen leads with 40).

The Pick: South Dakota

(There are three ranked-vs.-ranked games in Week 7. The full Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll)

SWAC: Alabama State (2-3, 1-2) at Jackson State (4-2, 2-1)

Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: This is the “Who’s SWAC?” post-Prime matchup – ASU coach Eddie Robinson Jr. and then-JSU coach Deion Sanders got into a dustup after last year’s game, and it was later questioned about how the other represented the conference. In each of JSU’s four wins, Irv Mulligan has 90+ rushing yards, while Jason Brown has thrown for all eight of his TD passes. Four of ASU’s five games have been decided by five or fewer points. Linebacker Colton Adams is averaging 12 tackles per game and has hit double figures in nine of his last 11 games.

The Pick: Jackson State

MVFC: Northern Iowa (3-2, 2-0) at No. 1 South Dakota State (5-0, 2-0)

Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+, Midco Sports)

Notable: Beginning with SDSU’s win in 2014 to its 31-28 triumph last season, these two teams have rotated wins in 11 straight meetings (well, it’s UNI’s turn). Jackrabbits RB Isaiah Davis has heated up in the last two games with 36 carries for 329 yards and five TDs (he has 18 career 100-yard games). In UNI’s three-game winning streak, Cordarrius Bailey has 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

The Pick: South Dakota State

UAC: Tarleton (4-2, 1-1) at Eastern Kentucky (2-3, 1-0)

Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: Tarleton has defended more pass attempts than any FCS team (254) and should expect plenty from EKU QB Parker McKinney, the active FCS leader in career attempts (1,469), completions (919), passing yards (10,996) and TD passes (83). With RB Derrel Kelley III sidelined last week, the Texans combined Caleb Lewis with leading rusher Kayvon Britten for 175 yards and two TDs on the ground. EKU has had a different 100-yard rusher in each of its last two games (both wins) and averaged 238 rushing yards as a team.

The Pick: Eastern Kentucky

SoCon: No. 25 Chattanooga (4-2, 3-1) at Mercer (4-2, 2-1)

Kickoff: 4 p.m. (ESPN+)

Notable: The visiting Mocs are coming off a 52-50 loss to Western Carolina via a walk-off field goal. In the defeat, Chase Artopoeus passed for 399 yards and five TDs – both career highs – and WR/kick returner Javin Whatley set the school record with 353 all-purpose yards. Mercer WR Ty James had 14 receptions – the FCS season high – for 285 yards in a win at ETSU. The Bears are 14-3 at home this decade.

The Pick: Chattanooga

Big Sky: No. 16 Montana (5-1, 2-1) at No. 3 Idaho (5-1, 3-0)

Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Notable: Montana is playing its second straight road game against a nationally ranked Big Sky opponent following a 31-23 win over UC Davis. In winning his first two starts, Griz QB Clifton McDowell has averaged 259 yards of total offense and accounted for five TDs. Idaho ended a seven-game losing streak in the series and claimed the Little Brown Stein for the first time since 1999 with a 30-23 win at UM last season. The Vandals have kept three opponents under 75 rushing yards, while on offense Anthony Woods has rushed for 634 yards and is tied for fourth in the FCS in touchdowns scored (10).

The Pick: Idaho

Last Week’s Record: 8-5 (.615)

Overall Record: 60-27 (.690)