Florida A&M didn’t even wait until Halloween to clinch a spot in the SWAC championship game, so there’s little need for FCS teams to hold off until Election Day next week before they start to fill out the 24-team playoff field.
Yes, a November to remember is underway this week, and conference title races are in the spotlight.
The Southern Conference will be the first to have its playoff representative on Saturday. The Southland Conference may even have its team.
Regardless, great matchups abound. Here’s a look at the FCS’ best Week 10 matchups (all times ET and games on Saturday with one exception):
MVFC: No. 11 North Dakota St. (6-2, 3-2) at No. 1 South Dakota St. (8-0, 5-0)
FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+/ABC North Dakota/Midco Sports)
Notable: NDSU holds a 63-46-5 series lead heading into the 115th meeting, and it’s a 10-9 edge in the Dakota Marker trophy game, which began in 2004. Reigning FCS champion SDSU is riding a 22-game winning streak, which is tied for the sixth-longest in FCS history and includes two of its four straight wins over NDSU, the nine-time national champion since 2011. Incredibly, the team with the higher time of possession has won the last 20 meetings. SDSU’s 6.7 yards per carry rank second in the FCS, with a stout line paving the way for running backs Isaiah Davis (754 yards, eight touchdowns) and Amar Johnson (510, three). In the first half this season, NDSU hasn’t trailed in its six wins and hasn’t led in its two losses. Quarterback Cam Miller leads the FCS in completion percentage (76.1), often targeting wide receiver Zach Mathis (33 receptions, 507 yards) and tight end Joe Stoffel (five TDs). Both teams have outstanding special teams, and it’s a phase of the game that could be pivotal.
The Pick: South Dakota State
Ivy: Princeton (4-3, 3-1) at Dartmouth (3-4, 2-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday (ESPNU)
Notable: Princeton is tied with Harvard for first place in the league, but the Tigers have dropped their last five games at Dartmouth. Linebacker Ozzie Nicholas leads the league in tackles (72) on a defense that’s ranked second in the FCS in fewest points allowed per game (13.1). The Big Green utilize multiple QBs, with Nick Howard (seven TD runs) leading on the ground and Dylan Cadwallader more in the air.
The Pick: Dartmouth
NEC: Duquesne (5-3, 4-0) at Wagner (3-5, 3-2)
Kickoff: Noon (NEC Front Row)
Notable: With a victory, Duquesne would clinch at least a tie for the NEC title, but it can’t yet clinch an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. Dukes QB Darius Perrantes leads the conference in passing yards (1,527) and TD passes (16), but has thrown an FCS-high 14 interceptions. Wagner is enjoying a bounce back, surpassing the win total of its 2019-22 seasons combined (2-34).
The Pick: Duquesne
Pioneer: Drake (5-3, 5-0) at Marist (4-4, 4-2)
Under-the-Radar Game of the Week
Notable: Drake, which has won its last eight PFL games, shares first place with Davidson. Luke Bailey leads the PFL in passing yards (1,968) and is tied for the most TD passes (14), but the Bulldogs don’t have a player with more than 18 receptions. Marist’s turnover margin is plus-eight in wins and minus-five in losses. In a 30-25 victory over Drake last season, Red Foxes QB Brock Bagozzi had a TD pass, run and reception.
The Pick: Drake
CAA: No. 24 William & Mary (5-3, 3-2) at No. 23 UAlbany (6-2, 4-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloFootball)
Notable: W&M defeated Monmouth 31-28 to end a three-game losing streak, with QB Darius Wilson posting season highs (24-for-33, 283 yards, two TDs) and RB Malachi Imoh surpassing 100 rushing yards for the fifth straight time against an FCS opponent. The Tribe, who rank No. 1 in the CAA in fewest yards (284.6) and points (17.9) allowed per game, will pressure UAlbany QB Reese Poffenbarger (sacked 60 times in 20 career games, including 24 this year). Great Danes LB Dylan Kelly ranks fourth in the FCS in tackles per game (12), and defensive ends Anton Juncaj and AJ Simon have combined for 28.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks.
The Pick: William & Mary
CAA: No. 17 Villanova (6-2, 4-1) at New Hampshire (4-4, 2-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloFootball)
Notable: These perennial CAA powers last met in 2019, and UNH holds a five-game winning streak in the series since 2010. Villanova QB Connor Watkins leads the FCS in passing yards per attempt (10.54) and completion (18.66), but UNH is fortified with the national leaders in passing yards per game (Max Brosmer, 336.9) and all-purpose yards per game (Dylan Laube, 214.3). The team records don’t match the vastly different turnover margins: UNH is +7 and Villanova -6.
The Pick: New Hampshire
CAA: Elon (4-4, 4-1) at No. 5 Delaware (7-1, 5-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (FloFootball/Delaware Sports Network)
Notable: CAA front-runner Delaware had gone 13 straight quarters without allowing a TD until Towson managed one in the fourth quarter of the Blue Hens’ 51-13 victory (they’re surrendering only 13 points per game against FCS opponents). After a five-TD performance, RB Marcus Yarns ranks No. 2 in the FCS with 16 overall. Elon may have used a bye week to work on avoiding its CAA-high 30 sacks allowed. In his two seasons, the Phoenix are 7-0 when Jalen Hampton has 90+ rushing yards.
The Pick: Delaware
Southern: No. 2 Furman (7-1, 5-0) at No. 14 Chattanooga (7-2, 6-1)
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: The winner will secure at least a share of the SoCon title as well as the conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs (Furman last won a three-way shared title in 2018 and Chattanooga’s most recent was a 2015 co-title). Furman uses the run (RB Dominic Roberto and QB Tyler Huff have a combined 1,100 rushing yards) to set up the pass, while Chattanooga may use Chase Artopoeus (2,383 passing yards, 18 TDs) to set up the run the Paladins (71.4 percent of yards allowed are through the air).
The Pick: Furman
MVFC: No. 9 South Dakota (6-2, 4-1) at No. 10 Southern Illinois (6-2, 3-2)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: This is a big-picture matchup for a potential seed in the FCS playoffs. Even after a 37-3 loss to top-ranked South Dakota State, USD ranks ninth in the FCS in fewest points allowed per game (17.3). Quarterback Aidan Bouman came off the bench to lead a comeback win over SIU last season and has started all 12 games since then. The Salukis are allowing 16.6 points per game – seventh-best nationally – losing only 17-10 to SDSU one week before a 63-0 shutout win over Western Illinois. Nic Baker holds their all-time record with 8,415 passing yards, and his 61 TD passes are four shy of the standard.
The Pick: Southern Illinois
SWAC: Southern (5-3, 4-1) at Alcorn State (5-3, 4-1)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: The winner will take sole possession of first place in the West Division (Florida A&M has clinched in the East Division already). Southern has won the last two meetings by a combined seven points (38-35 in 2021 and 21-17 last year). Kendric Rhymes has gone over 125 rushing yards in each of the Jaguars’ last two games. In Alcorn’s four-game winning streak, the defense has kept two opponents under 100 passing yards and three straight under 100 rushing yards.
The Pick: Alcorn State
Southland: Nicholls (3-4, 4-0 including forfeit win) at No. 8 UIW (7-1, 4-0)
Kickoff: 4 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: The winner will take sole possession of first place (Nicholls has a forfeit win against Northwestern State, while UIW’s is coming on Nov. 11). If UIW wins, it will basically clinch the Southland’s automatic playoff bid, although technically it would occur once it receives the forfeit win. The visiting Colonels have a +8 turnover margin in wins. UIW freshman QB Richard Torres had his second consecutive big performance in place of Zach Calzada, throwing for 307 yards and two TDs at Lamar. Whoever’s behind center will target WR Brandon Porter (103.9 receiving yards per game, No. 2 in the FCS).
The Pick: UIW
UAC: No. 19 Austin Peay (6-2, 3-0) at Eastern Kentucky 4-4, 3-0)
Kickoff: 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: With Austin Peay surpassing 40 points five different times in a six-game winning streak, QB Mike DiLiello, the Week 9 FedEx Ground FCS National Offensive Player of the Week, has a combined 23 passing and rushing TDs. The Govenors’ linebacker-led defense is allowing third-down conversions on just 28.5 percent of their opponents’ attempts. Four of EKU’s six FCS games have been decided by four or fewer points in regulation, and another one went to double overtime. EKU QB Parker McKinney has accounted for 13,417 yards of total offense and 111 total TDs in a 50-game career.
The Pick: Eastern Kentucky
Big Sky: No. 7 Sacramento State (6-2, 3-2) at No. 4 Montana (7-1, 4-1)
Kickoff: 8 p.m. (ESPN+/CW31/Scripps)
Notable: Sac State is 3-0 against Montana since 2019. UM coach Bobby Hauck is tied for the most all-time wins by a Big Sky coach (123, along with former Northern Arizona mentor Jerome Souers). The Griz, behind LB Braxton Hill, are allowing just 16.9 points and 75.8 rushing yards per game, and they’re +9 in turnovers. Fifteen different Sac State players have scored TDs this season (RBs Marcus Fulcher and Elijah Tau-Tolliver lead with six and five, respectively). Tight end Marshel Martin IV is coming off a big game against Idaho State (six receptions, 103 yards, TD).
The Pick: Montana
Last Week’s Record: 11-4 (.733)
Overall Record: 88-38 (.698)