Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - You can remain in awe of Eastern
Washington beating Oregon State, Eastern Illinois topping San Diego State,
even Bethune-Cookman handling FIU. And rightfully so.
But while those FCS-vs.-FBS upsets gained national attention, they were just
the appetizers during the FCS season.
We'll take Eastern Washington at Montana, Eastern Illinois at Tennessee State
and Bethune-Cookman hosting South Carolina State as the type of games we most
want to see this season.
There is nothing better than a big day of conference games, and Saturday's
lineup across the FCS is among the best this season, with five matchups within
the Top 25 as well as other games impacting the top spot in conference races.
The direct path to the FCS playoffs is not through the FBS competition, it's
through the conference opponents who know a team best and force it to find
ways to raise its play during competition.
"From our end of the world, we know and respect our opponents in this league
top to bottom. We've learned that trait," said head coach Jack Cosgrove of
11th-ranked Maine, which puts its first-place status in CAA Football on the
line Saturday at No. 18 Villanova.
"Over our history, we have never been the team that you see at the top end of
the preseason listings, so I think we really have a tremendous level of
respect for the schools in our league. And I think our preparation for each and
every one of our opponents is really the key to our success. It goes without
saying, I think, all of us know in our league that each and every opportunity
to play on Saturday has to bring the best out of you."
Including Maine (6-1, 3-0) at Villanova (4-3, 3-1), seven FCS conferences
feature at least one game on Saturday in which a first-place team with two or
more conference wins is playing another first-place team or an opponent just
one game behind in the standings.
The Super Saturday schedule includes:
Big Sky Conference
No. 3 Eastern Washington (5-2, 3-0) at No. 10 Montana (6-1, 3-1) - The
visiting Eagles have four wins at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, more than any
other team. "You have to be able to handle certain things on the road in terms
of your snap count and the emotion of what the place feels like," Eagles coach
Beau Baldwin said. "We've had some tough losses in Missoula, but we love going
in there and competing."
UC Davis (3-5, 3-1) at No. 5 Montana State (5-2, 3-0) - Bobcats defensive end
Brad Daly leads the FCS in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (10).
No. 22 Samford (5-2, 3-0) at No. 12 Wofford (5-2, 4-0) - The Bulldogs can
complete what some consider impossible, a sweep of Appalachian State, Georgia
Southern and Wofford in the same season.
Princeton (4-1, 2-0) at Harvard (5-0, 2-0) - Princeton ranks No. 1 in the
league in scoring as well as No. 3 nationally at 42.4 points per game. The
last time the Tigers finished as the Ivy scoring leader was 1988, when Dallas
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was the league's most valuable player at
Yale (3-2, 1-1) at Penn (3-2, 2-0) - The Quakers won an outright Ivy
championship last year despite losing to a last-place Yale squad.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
South Carolina State (5-2, 3-0) at No. 14 Bethune-Cookman (6-1, 3-0) -
Wildcats coach Brian Jenkins has a 24-3 record in MEAC games since arriving at
Ohio Valley Conference
No. 2 Eastern Illinois (6-1, 3-0) at No. 21 Tennessee State (7-1, 4-0) - EIU's
FCS-leading unit in scoring offense (48 points per game) and total offense
(595.6 yards per game) knocks heads with TSU's No. 2-ranked unit in scoring
defense (13.5) and total defense (264.0).
Pioneer Football League
Butler (6-2, 4-0) at San Diego (4-3, 3-1) - Butler's 23 takeaways are the
second-most in the FCS. The Bulldogs would just as soon take away a road win as
they continue to chase the first automatic FCS playoff bid out of the PFL.
Samford coach Pat Sullivan summed up the feeling of competing for a conference
title. It's why teams lace 'em up.
"Every kid, every coach, they want to play for a conference championship
whether we want to talk about it or not at the start of the season," Sullivan
said. "Every team wants to put that ring on their finger saying that they're
the conference champion. So when you're in the hunt to be able to do that and
you haven't done it, it gives you a little excitement, it gives you a little
energy. The thing that you've got to be careful of as a coach is to not let
your players get caught up in that."
GRAMBLING TRYING TO SALVAGE SEASON
The focus on the Southwestern Athletic Conference should be on its terrific
matchups on Saturday.
The largest crowd of the FCS season will be at Legion Field in Birmingham,
Ala., for the Magic City Classic between Alabama A&M and Alabama State. Plus
the Prairie View A&M-Jackson State matchup in Shreveport, La., and Alcorn
State at Southern have significant implications on the division races.
But the game that will draw the most national interest is a matchup of
struggling teams. Winless Grambling State, coming off a player boycott and
then a forfeit at Jackson State last week, will try to get back to action
without a hitch when it hosts Texas Southern. It will be new interim head coach
Dennis "Dirt" Winston's first game as he tries to salvage a season gone awry.
His Tigers' next three games are against opponents (Texas Southern, Mississippi
Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff) that are a combined 2-19.
Still, Grambling State officials have plenty more worries. With GSU already
facing a $20,000 fine from the SWAC for the forfeiture, Jackson State leaders
are expected to take legal action against Grambling State and "others" to
recoup the losses from their homecoming game, which they say are in the
AROUND THE NATION
Colgate visits Georgetown on Saturday, seeking its ninth straight Patriot
League victory. Raiders senior Gavin McCarney needs five passing yards to
become the third player in FCS history with 5,000 passing yards and 2,500
rushing yards. The others are Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards (2006-09)
and Morehead State's David Dinkins (1997-2000). ... The quarterback McCarney
just squared off against, Holy Cross freshman Peter Pujals, has won five
straight Patriot League rookie of the week awards. ... A strange season in the
Southern Conference could still have a stranger ending. At least that's what
Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken is reminding his players going into his
team's rivalry game at Appalachian State on Saturday. "I know nobody else
recognizes that we can be the conference champion. That's still something that
we still have a goal of." ... In the Big South, the Liberty/Gardner-Webb
matchup is a survival game with both teams coming off losses to unbeaten
Coastal Carolina. ... Presbyterian (2-4) has scored 22 touchdowns and averaged
25.5 points per game, but has yet to kick a field goal. ... Eastern Kentucky
hopes to throw a block party at Southeast Missouri State. The Colonels lead the
FCS with six blocked kicks. ... Much of the attention in the Pioneer Football
League is on Butler at San Diego, but the Dayton-Morehead State game features
two 3-1 league teams whose winner would move into a tie for first place if San
Diego beats Butler. Dayton and Morehead State are on three-game winning
streaks, scoring at least 40 points each time. ... Sam Houston State running
back Timothy Flanders became the Southland Conference record holder for career
rushing attempts (891) in the Bearkats' loss to McNeese State last Saturday.
Flanders also holds Southland career marks for touchdowns scored (65), rushing
touchdowns (61) and rushing yards (5,105), and season records for rushing yards
(1,644), rushing touchdowns (22) and total touchdowns (24), all in 2011. ...
After flip-flopping wins over the same two MEAC opponents, Delaware State (3-4,
3-1) at Hampton (2-5, 2-1) is a game that has taken on added meaning Saturday.
... Top-ranked North Dakota State (7-0) visits reeling Indiana State in
Missouri Valley Football Conference action Saturday. The Bison's 16-game
winning streak started after they lost to the Sycamores, 17-14, last year. Of
course, the Sycamores no longer have star tailback Shakir Bell, whose career is
over. ... The surprise team of the Missouri Valley is South Dakota (4-3, 3-1),
whose three-game winning streak is its first since 2008 and coincides with
sophomore quarterback Kevin Earl becoming the starter. In keeping opposing QBs
below a 50 percent completion percentage, the Coyotes have surrendered an FCS-
low 117.1 passing yards per game. ... New Jerry Rice Award nominee RJ Noel of
Sacred Heart ranks fourth in the FCS in points responsible for (138) as a
redshirt freshman. But the Northeast Conference offensive player of the week
for two weeks running is Sacred Heart junior running back Keshaudas Spence, who
has a combined 391 rushing yards in that time. ... Off a bye week, first-year
program Charlotte (4-3) heads to Charleston Southern, seeking to become the
first FCS team to defeat the Buccaneers. ... Two teams playing FBS opponents
on Saturday are Furman at LSU (yikes) and Abilene Christian at New Mexico
State (the host Baggies are glad it's not Sam Houston State).
WHAT WE KNOW, WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW
The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at http://tinyurl.com/88q2k7t.
Also, once again this season, In the FCS Huddle is projecting the potential
FCS playoff field. The projections, updated most Sundays, are a long-range
look at the season - not based off current records or rankings - and can be
found at http://www.sportsnetwork.com/fcs/FCS_Bracket.pdf.
WEEK 9 PICKS
Week 8 Record: 38-18 (.679)
Season Record: 402-131 (.754)
Saturday, Oct. 26
X-Delaware (5-2, 2-1 CAA) at Rhode Island (3-5, 2-3), noon
X-Sacred Heart (7-1, 2-1 NEC) at Saint Francis (Pa.) (2-4, 0-1), noon
Robert Morris (2-4, 0-1 NEC) at X-Wagner (2-5, 1-2), noon
X-No. 8 Towson (7-1, 3-1 CAA) at Richmond (2-5, 0-3), noon
X-Brown (3-2, 0-2 Ivy) at Cornell (1-4, 0-2), 12:30 p.m.
Yale (3-2, 1-1 Ivy) at X-Penn (3-2, 2-0), 1 p.m.
X-Princeton (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) at Harvard (5-0, 2-0), 1 p.m.
Delaware State (3-4, 3-1 MEAC) at X-Hampton (2-5, 2-1), 1 p.m.
X-Colgate (2-5, 1-0 Patriot) at Georgetown (1-6, 0-1), 1 p.m.
Duquesne (4-2, 2-0 NEC) at X-Bryant (3-4, 1-1), 1 p.m.
Salve Regina (5-1) at X-Central Connecticut State (2-5), 1 p.m.
Charlotte (4-3) at X-Charleston Southern (7-1), 1 p.m.
X-No. 15 Lehigh (6-1, 1-0 Patriot) at Bucknell (2-4, 0-2), 1 p.m.
X-Lafayette (1-5, 1-0 Patriot) at Holy Cross (3-5, 1-1), 1 p.m.
X-Old Dominion (4-3) at Norfolk State (2-5), 1 p.m.
Davidson (0-7, 0-4 Pioneer) at X-Jacksonville (3-4, 2-2), 1 p.m.
Stetson (1-5, 0-3 Pioneer) at X-Marist (4-3, 3-1), 1 p.m.
X-Dayton (5-2, 3-1 Pioneer) at Morehead State (3-4, 3-1), 1 p.m.
No. 11 Maine (6-1, 3-0 CAA) at X-No. 18 Villanova (4-3, 3-1), 1 p.m.
X-Morgan State (2-5, 2-1 MEAC) at Howard (2-5, 1-3), 1 p.m.
Columbia (0-5, 0-2 Ivy) at X-Dartmouth (2-3, 1-1), 1:30 p.m.
X-No. 22 Samford (5-2, 3-0 Southern) at No. 12 Wofford (5-2, 4-0), 1:30 p.m.
Liberty (3-4, 0-1 Big South) at X-Gardner-Webb (4-3, 0-1), 1:30 p.m.
X-Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-7, 0-5 SWAC) at Mississippi Valley State (1-6, 1-4),
The Citadel (2-5, 2-3 Southern) at X-Chattanooga (5-2, 3-1), 2 p.m.
X-North Carolina Central (3-4, 1-2 MEAC) at Savannah State (1-7, 0-4), 2 p.m.
Point (3-4) at X-Presbyterian (2-4), 2 p.m.
South Dakota (4-3, 3-1 Missouri Valley) at X-Illinois State (3-4, 2-2), 2 p.m.
X-Eastern Kentucky (4-3, 2-1 OVC) at Southeast Missouri State (1-6, 1-3), 2
Valparaiso (1-6, 1-3 Pioneer) at X-Drake (3-4, 2-2), 2 p.m.
X-North Carolina A&T (3-3, 1-3 MEAC) at Florida A&M (2-5, 1-2), 2 p.m.
X-Jacksonville State (5-2, 1-2 OVC) at Tennessee Tech (3-5, 0-4), 2:30 p.m.
Northwestern State (3-4, 0-2 Southland) at X-No. 7 Sam Houston State (5-2,
1-1), 3 p.m.
No. 17 Northern Iowa (4-3, 0-3 Missouri Valley) at X-No. 25 South Dakota State
(4-4, 1-3), 3 p.m.
X-Texas Southern (1-6, 1-5 SWAC) at Grambling State (0-8. 0-5), 3 p.m.
X-No. 1 North Dakota State (7-0, 4-0 Missouri Valley) at Indiana State (1-6,
0-3), 3:05 p.m.
Idaho State (3-4, 1-3 Big Sky) at X-Southern Utah (5-3, 2-2), 3:05 p.m.
No. 19 James Madison (5-2, 2-1 CAA) at X-William & Mary (4-3, 1-2), 3:30 p.m.
X-No. 24 Georgia Southern (4-2, 2-2 Southern) at Appalachian State (1-6, 1-3),
Alabama A&M (2-5, 2-3 SWAC) at X-Alabama State (5-2, 5-1) at Legion Field in
Birmingham, Ala., 3:30 p.m.
X-Elon (2-6, 1-3 Southern) at Western Carolina (1-7, 0-4), 3:30 p.m.
No. 3 Eastern Washington (5-2, 3-0 Big Sky) at X-No. 10 Montana (6-1, 3-1),
X-No. 20 New Hampshire (3-3, 2-1 CAA) at Stony Brook (3-3, 1-2), 4 p.m.
X-No. 4 McNeese State (6-1, 2-0 Southland) at Nicholls (4-3, 1-1), 4 p.m.
X-South Carolina State (5-2, 3-0 MEAC) at No. 14 Bethune-Cookman (6-1, 3-0), 4
Stephen F. Austin (3-4, 1-1 Southland) at X-No. 23 Central Arkansas (4-3,
1-1), 4 p.m.
X-Mercer (6-1, 2-1 Pioneer) at Campbell (1-6, 0-4), 4 p.m.
Butler (6-2, 4-0 Pioneer) at X-San Diego (4-3, 3-1), 4 p.m.
North Dakota (2-5, 1-3 Big Sky) at X-Portland State (3-4, 0-3), 4:05 p.m.
UC Davis (3-5, 3-1 Big Sky) at X-No. 5 Montana State (5-2, 3-0), 4:35 p.m.
X-UT Martin (4-3, 2-2 OVC) at Austin Peay (0-7, 0-3), 5 p.m.
Prairie View A&M (5-3, 4-2 SWAC) at X-Jackson State (6-2, 6-0) at Independence
Stadium in Shreveport, La., 5 p.m.
Game of the Week: X-No. 2 Eastern Illinois (6-1, 3-0 OVC) at No. 21 Tennessee
State (7-1, 4-0), 5 p.m. In this story line of EIU offense-vs.-TSU defense, it
can't be overlooked that TSU senior Tim Broughton has the most rushing yards
(825) in the Ohio Valley Conference.
VMI (1-6, 0-2 Big South) at X-No. 6 Coastal Carolina (7-0, 2-0), 6 p.m.
Alcorn State (6-2, 4-1 SWAC) at X-Southern (4-3, 4-1), 6:30 p.m.
Missouri State (2-6, 2-2 Missouri Valley) at X-Western Illinois (3-5, 1-3), 7
Houston Baptist (2-2) at X-Incarnate Word (3-4), 7 p.m.
Furman (3-4, 2-2 CAA) at X-LSU (6-2), 7 p.m.
Lamar (3-4, 0-2 Southland) at X-Southeastern Louisiana (5-2, 2-0), 8 p.m.
Abilene Christian (5-3) at X-New Mexico State (0-7), 8 p.m.
X-No. 16 Northern Arizona (5-2, 3-1 Big Sky) at Cal Poly (3-4, 2-1), 9:05 p.m.
The Sports Network