In the FCS Huddle: Week 3 Preview

2:07 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's only Week 3 of the 2012 season and while there's a long way to go, one conference, the Missouri Valley, has certainly made a case for being the top dog conference to date.

Traditionally, the MVFC has always had its fair share of talented teams, players and competitiveness, but it's often overshadowed by the likes of the Southern Conference, CAA Football and the Big Sky Conference.

Currently, the Missouri Valley has five teams ranked in the FCS Top 25 - three top-10 teams, No. 1 North Dakota State, No. 5 Youngstown State and No. 7 Northern Iowa, as well as Illinois State and Indiana State, which have quietly hovered around the 15-25 spots.

Rankings aside, it's been the way the conference has competed and the development of a handful of playmakers whom have impressed many across the FCS. Illinois State, Youngstown State and North Dakota State, all 2-0, have picked up three FBS victories collectively. On top of that, the MVFC is a perfect 8-0 in home non-conference games this year.

"Nothing surprises me in the Missouri Valley Football Conference," Illinois State coach Brock Spack said. "I think our conference is very strong and I think everyone involved in the league thought it would be even better this year. It was a great league last year, which North Dakota State proved by winning the national title. This league has been one of the better conferences in FCS football for a long time and I hope it continues to get the national attention it deserves."

Many of the conference's top playmakers have put up impressive numbers already. South Dakota State's Zach Zenner leads the FCS in rushing with 461 yards, while Indiana State's Shakir Bell and Illinois State's Darrelynn Dunn follow closely behind at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. The defenses haven't be bad, either, with five teams holding opponents under 282 yards or better.

"I don't know what the other leagues are saying, I can just tell you our league is really tough," North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said. "When we line up as coaches and when we get together at conference meetings, we always say that our best competition usually comes within our own conference."

Consider CAA Football, which has three teams sitting at 2-0, Delaware, Old Dominion and James Madison, all of whom have played relatively easy opponents. Towson (0-1) and New Hampshire (1-1) could make a title run in conference play, which begins this week; however, traditional contenders William & Mary, Villanova and Richmond and Maine seem to be in the middle of a rebuilding process.

No to take anything away from the SoCon or the Big Sky - which is definitely home to some of the best teams and standout players in the FCS - but at this point in time, the Missouri Valley has looked solid.

"Every year in this league it seems like one of the teams knocks off a FBS opponent and this year three of us have done that," Spack said. "It just shows how strong this conference is from top to bottom and, hopefully, that will be shown come playoff time, with more teams in this year. There are five ranked teams right now and I think we could all be potential playoff-caliber teams come the end of the season. But there is a long way to go."

One of those wins came in the hands of North Dakota State, which dominated the line of scrimmage in a 22-7 road win at Mountain West foe Colorado State. The Bison defense gave up just 72 rushing yards and allowed CSU to convert just one third-down play.

"Going in watching the tape, we felt like we would have some physical advantages and we played really well, we won by 15 points, so it didn't surprise us," Bohl said. "Nonetheless, I don't want to make light of Colorado State, I think they're a good team, but it wasn't like we got done at the end and were like, 'Wow, holy smokes, we won the game.' I think our players expected to win the game. As coaches, we expected to win the game."

A fitting attitude which the conference has seemed to live by in the early going of the season.

The following is a game-by-game breakdown for The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 and other select games (all times ET):

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (0-2) at No. 18 New Hampshire Wildcats (1-1), noon

Series record: New Hampshire leads, 6-0

Last meeting: New Hampshire 33, Central Connecticut State 3 (Sept. 4, 2010)

What to know: After defeating Holy Cross in Week 1, New Hampshire's defense looked improved and its questions under center were answered. One week later, after a 44-7 loss at Minnesota, it appears things have changed. Sophomore quarterback Andy Vailas will make his first career start for the Wildcats after starting signal-caller Sean Goldrich injured his shoulder on the second offensive play of the game versus the Golden Gophers.

For the third straight week, Central Connecticut State will play a non- conference ranked opponent. The Blue Devils have no problem running the ball (173 yards per game), but they continue to struggle throwing the ball (75 yards per game). The Wildcats will need to stop quarterback Andrew Clements, who has been effective as a runner, but CCSU has not many points offensively.

UNH will look to make a statement with its defense, while the offense will try to get back on track with a new leader. The 'Cats needs to find their identity before conference play starts next week.

Prediction: New Hampshire 33, Central Connecticut State 13

William & Mary Tribe (0-2, 0-0 CAA) at No. 12 Towson Tigers (0-1, 0-0), noon (NBCSN)

Series record: William & Mary leads, 7-1

Last meeting: Towson 38, William & Mary 27 (Oct. 22, 2011)

What to know: Towson has had a little over two weeks to forget its 41-21, season-opening, loss versus Kent State. The Tigers fell behind early and didn't help themselves by turning the ball over six times. A bye week was just what Towson needed as they try to get back on track against a deflated William & Mary squad.

After losing to Maryland by one point in Week 1 - which they allowed just 91 rushing yards on 33 carries - the Tribe suddenly find themselves with an 0-2 record following another loss last week versus Lafayette. William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock has to choose between quarterbacks Michael Graham and Raphael Ortiz, both of whom have struggled.

Statistically speaking, this should be a battle between Towson's run attack versus the Tribe's talented defense, but W&M won't be able to keep up offensively. The Tigers will get the job done at home.

Prediction: Towson 31, William & Mary 14

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-0) at Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (1-1), noon (ESPN3.com)

Series record: Miami leads, 1-0

Last meeting: Miami 45, Bethune-Cookman 14 (Oct. 1, 2011)

What to know: Bethune-Cookman's opponents should start letting it score first because for the second week in a row, the Wildcats trailed by at least 14 points after one quarter, yet still managed to pull out a win. In Week 1, they trailed 21-0 and won against Alabama State. Last week, they trailed 14-0 and scored 27 unanswered points to defeat South Carolina State, moving to 2-0.

Of course, B-C cannot afford to fall behind FBS and ACC member Miami, which looks to rebound after getting whooped by Kansas State, 52-13.

It appears coach Brian Jenkins will utilize both signal-callers Jackie Wilson and Brodrick Waters moving forward, for an offense which looks to establish the run. In last year's meeting, the Wildcats jumped out to a 7-0 lead after one quarter and only trailed by seven at halftime. Eventually Miami woke up and won, 45-14.

This year, however, the Hurricanes won't mess around. A loss wouldn't be the worse case scenario for Bethune after a challenging start to the season.

Prediction: Miami 38, Bethune-Cookman 17

Princeton Tigers (0-0) at No. 16 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (2-0), 12:30 p.m.

Series record: Princeton leads, 39-14-2

Last meeting: Lehigh 34, Princeton 22 (Sept. 17, 2011)

What to know: Lehigh has quietly improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2003. The Mountain Hawks haven't played the toughest opponents in their first two games (Monmouth and Central Connecticut State), but the offense has looked solid under the new leadership of quarterback Mike Colvin. Many around the Patriot League knew Lehigh could contend for a third straight title, but they didn't think the offense would be as productive.

All-America receiver Ryan Spadola doesn't have a touchdown yet and the Mountain Hawks' playmakers haven't put up flashy numbers. Plain and simple, Lehigh knows how to win. Lehigh's 11-game regular-season win streak is second only to Sam Houston State (14) among FCS teams.

Princeton is coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons and has struggled to find its identity under third-year coach Bob Surace. The Tigers are winless in their last five season openers and lost both the 2010 and 2011 openers to Lehigh, 35-22 and 34-22, respectively. It's a trend which will continue this week.

Prediction: Lehigh 38, Princeton 10

San Diego Toreros (1-0) at Harvard Crimson (0-0), 12:30 p.m.

Series record: First meeting

Last meeting: None

What to know: This is an interesting matchup between the Pioneer Football League and the Ivy League, which both seem to be heading in two opposite directions in the near future.

The PFL recently learned it will earn an automatic playoff bid in 2013, when the FCS playoffs expand to 24 teams. Ivy teams have talented programs and players, and all probably wish they would be joining them in the postseason, but the league presidents are not going to let it happen anytime soon.

Harvard is the favorite to claim a second straight Ivy League crown after winning three titles in the past five years, but the Crimson must rely on depth, not big-name stars, this time around.

San Diego has three stud All-PFL performers in quarterback Mason Mills, running back Kenny James and defensive end Blake Oliaro. However, the Toreros had to score with just a minute remaining to defeat the Western New Mexico Mustangs, 34-27.

Expect a close contest early on, but Harvard should shake off any first-game jitters to defeat an overmatched and travel-weary San Diego squad. Because the game is in Cambridge, Mass., it will be equivalent to playing at 9:30 in the morning West Coast time for the Toreros.

Prediction: Harvard 35, San Diego 17

No. 25 Maine Black Bears (0-1) at Bryant Bulldogs (0-2), 1 p.m.

Series record: Maine leads, 1-0

Last meeting: Maine 28, Bryant 13 (Sept. 3, 2011)

What to know: Maine opened its season with a road loss versus ACC member Boston College, 34-3. The Black Bears led by three after one quarter of play, but struggled to get anything going offensively for most of the contest.

Bryant has lost its first two games of the season for the first time since 2004. The Bulldogs have not lived up to their hype in the first year they are eligible for the Northeast Conference title and its automatic playoff bid.

Bryant lost to Marist in Week 1, followed by a 39-28 defeat in its NEC opener versus St. Francis (Pa.). The defense is allowing 290 rushing yards per game, while All-NEC running back Jordan Brown hasn't quite found his groove.

Last year's game in Oreno, Maine, proved to be a lot more difficult than the Black Bears expected. This year, however, both teams seem to have taken a step back.

Prediction: Maine 28, Bryant 14

Yale Bulldogs (0-0) at Georgetown Hoyas (2-0), 1 p.m.

Series record: Yale leads, 5-0

Last meeting: Yale 37, Georgetown 27 (Sept. 17, 2011)

What to know: Yale has opened its last five seasons versus Georgetown and during that time, they have not lost to the Hoyas. The Bulldogs embark on their 140th season of football under the new direction of coach Tony Reno. He begins his head coaching career after nine years as an assistant in the Ivy League, including working at Harvard for the past three.

Georgetown, which was the surprise team of the Patriot League in 2011, has picked up right were it left off and already has a 2-0 record. The Hoyas lost starting quarterback and captain Isaiah Kempf to injury after just a couple of plays in Week 1 versus Davidson. Junior quarterback Aaron Aiken has done well filling in, while running back Nick Campanella leads the way offensively.

Georgetown has the advantage of playing at home, not to mention the motivation of losing to the Bulldogs year after year. With a win, the Hoyas would be 3-0 for the first time since 1999. Yale is starting true freshman Eric Williams under center and lost a lot of experience from a squad that went 5-5.

Prediction: Georgetown 21, Yale 20 (OT)

Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-1) at No. 15 Illinois State (2-0), 2 p.m.

Series record: Illinois State leads 51-40-9

Last meeting: Eastern Illinois 33, Illinois State 26 (Sept. 1, 2011)

What to know: Long-time rivals Eastern Illinois and Illinois State square off for the 101st playing of the Mid-American Classic. Last season marked the first time in the series (dating back to 1901) which the two teams played for a meaningful trophy. To open the 2011 season, Eastern Illinois came away with a seven-point victory, which greatly affected Illinois State's playoff chances later in the year.

The Redbirds have already jumped out to a 2-0 record - including a huge resume-builder - with their 31-14 victory over FBS foe Eastern Michigan. ISU scored 21 unanswered points in the final two quarters of play, snapping its 20- game losing streak against FBS opponents. The Redbirds have a lot of offensive weapons, but its defense also has been impressive, giving up just 193 yards per game.

EIU has its own studs in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and receiver Erik Lora, who should help the Panthers' air attack. Eastern Illinois has a nice win over Southern Illinois, but couldn't keep up with Western Michigan in its 52-21 loss last week.

Brock Spack - formerly an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois under legendary coach Bob Spoo - shouldn't need to motivate his team versus an inner-state rival. Another win would put the Redbirds in great shape before conference play starts next week.

Prediction: Illinois State 31, Eastern Illinois 23

Drake Bulldogs (1-1) at No. 22 Indiana State (1-1), 2:05 p.m.

Series record: Indiana State leads, 8-2

Last meeting: Indiana State 17, Drake 10 (1985)

What to know: Indiana State and Drake are renewing a series that has been dormant since 1985, in which the Sycamores have a comfortable 8-2 lead. As an underdog at home last week, Drake fell to Montana State but hung in for most of the contest, losing by 10 points to the then-No. 4 Montana State Bobcats.

Senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski exploited the Bobcats' secondary, completing 25-of-43 passes for 311 yards and one touchdown, and he added a touchdown on the ground. The difference in the outcome, however, was the advantage MSU had on the ground, outgaining Drake, 168-59.

Indiana State has played well in both of its games, although the Sycamores have a record of 1-1. They lost to Big Ten foe Indiana by seven points and earned a 44-0 victory over Quincy in Week 2, which proved to be the Sycamores' first shutout of an opponent since 1996.

ISU running back Shakir Bell (261 rushing yards, two touchdowns) is dangerous as any back in the FCS and Drake should have its hands full trying to contain him. This is Drake's first road game of the season, so you can expect Piatkowski and crew to put up a good fight.

Prediction: Indiana State 35, Drake 25

UC Davis Aggies (1-1) at South Dakota State Jackrabbits (1-1), 3 p.m.

Series record: South Dakota State leads, 4-2

Last meeting: South Dakota State 28, UC Davis 21 (Oct. 27, 2007)

What to know: UC Davis will have one objective this week: trying to stop running back Zach Zenner. The sophomore leads the FCS with 461 yards, while averaging an amazing 230.5 yards per game and eight yards per carry. Much of it has to do with last week's 278-yard effort, but in Week 1 he did rush for 183 yards versus Kansas.

The Aggies and Jackrabbits collectively played decent in their FBS losses, but they also have wins over fairly easy opponents. The two teams played in the Great West Conference together from 2004-07 before SDSU left for the MVFC.

Expect the Jackrabbits to play well at home even though UC Davis knows its only chance of victory is winning the battle on the line of scrimmage.

Prediction: South Dakota State 24, UC Davis 18

Bucknell Bison (1-0) at No. 13 Delaware Blue Hens (2-0), 3:30 p.m.

Series record: Delaware leads, 22-11

Last meeting: Delaware 31, Bucknell 7 (Oct. 19, 1985)

What to know: Delaware has had a relatively easy path leading up to a record of 2-0. The Blue Hens close out their non-conference portion of the schedule - at home for the third straight week - versus Bucknell, having defeated West Chester and Delaware State along the way.

Traditionally, UD always sets the tone offensively with its run attack. Yet, through two games in the season, the Blue Hens have averaged only 152 yards per game on the ground. Stud running back Andrew Pierce, who has been a touchdown machine the last two years, hasn't found the end zone in 2012.

Bucknell's defense turned a lot of heads in the Patriot League last year and was solid against the run in allowing 57 yards in its 19-17 victory over Marist. The offense will be without All-Patriot running back Tyler Smith, who suffered an ankle injury versus the Red Foxes.

The Bison haven't defeated a nationally ranked team since 2009 and don't have the offensive weapons to match the Blue Hens talent.

Prediction: Delaware 33, Bucknell 17

No. 21 The Citadel Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 Southern) at No. 8 Appalachian State Mountaineers (1-1, 0-0), 3:30 p.m.

Series record: Appalachian State leads, 29-11

Last meeting: Appalachian State 49, The Citadel 42 (Oct. 15, 2011)

What to know: Last week's victories proved to be unique for both Appalachian State and The Citadel. The Mountaineers defeated Montana for the first time in program history in a highly anticipated regular-season matchup, while The Citadel is coming off a dramatic 23-21 victory over then-No. 3 Georgia Southern. The win versus GSU was the first time since 1997 that the Bulldogs knocked off a top 10 opponent. Now for the first time since 2008, they are ranked in The Sports Network FCS Top 25.

Both teams have started the season with big wins, which should make for one heck of an early SoCon matchup. Appalachian State signal-caller Jamal Jackson looks to be the answer that Mountaineers fans have been waiting for, while senior linebackers Jeremy Kimbrough and Brandon Grier are as lethal as any duo in the FCS.

On paper, the advantage should go to The Citadel - due to its developing triple option offense - but, in reality, it will go to ASU because this game is being played at "The Rock." If Appalachian gets off to a fast start, the Bulldogs could be in trouble.

That being said, the pressure is on the traditional conference power, not the Bulldogs, who have averaged 323 rushing yards per game. This game could have huge SoCon implications later in the season.

Prediction: Appalachian State 38, The Citadel 30

No. 7 Northern Iowa Panthers (1-1) at Iowa Hawkeyes (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Series record: Iowa leads, 14-1

Last meeting: Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 16 (Sept. 5, 2009)

What to know: Many fans across the FCS remember watching highlights of the brutal one-point loss in which the Hawkeyes blocked not one, but two, Northern Iowa field goals (in the final seven seconds of the game) to escape with the victory the last time these two teams met in 2009.

The Panthers have always played well versus FBS opponents, so you can expect another close game at a sold-out Kinnick Stadium. In Week 1, UNI nearly came away with a win against Wisconsin, losing, 26-21. Last week, the Panthers beat Division II Central State in a laugher, 59-0.

The Panthers won't play an FCS school until conference play starts next week. It's not going to get any easier for Mark Farley's squad, which faces Youngstown State on the road Sept. 22 and North Dakota State at home the following week.

Redshirt freshman Sawyer Kollmorgen has stepped in nicely as the leader under center, throwing six touchdowns without an interception. This is another tall task for a UNI program which will compete, but should come up short again, versus a Big Ten opponent.

Prediction: Iowa 24, Northern Iowa 17

Liberty Flames (0-2) at No. 14 Montana Grizzlies (1-1), 3:30 p.m. (Altitude, MASN)

Series record: First meeting

Last meeting: None

What to know: This is the first of three games involving ranked Big Sky teams versus unique opponents. The other two games involve Weber State hosting McNeese State and Montana State hosting Stephen F. Austin.

Montana is coming off a tough defeat at the hands of Appalachian State, in Boone, N.C., and in front of 30,856 fans. While the atmosphere certainly wasn't any different compared to playing in Washington-Grizzly Stadium (OK, maybe a little more challenging), the Grizzlies competed well in a contest which could have gone either way. Redshirt signal-caller Trent McKinney recorded his first 300-yard passing game (307 yards, three touchdowns), but he threw three interceptions as well.

Liberty has quickly dropped its first two games of the season, losing to ACC member Wake Forest, 20-17, in Week 1 and Norfolk State, 31-24, last week. In both games, the Flames easily could have come away on top.

Montana is averaging 525 yards per game, including 245 on the ground, and should bounce back at home versus a Liberty team that will be overwhelmed by the Grizzly faithful.

Prediction: Montana 44, Liberty 20

No. 23 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (1-1) at No. 3 Montana State Bobcats (2-0), 3:35 p.m.

Series record: First meeting

Last meeting: None

What to know: Despite coming off a surprisingly close 34-24 road win versus Drake, Montana State moved up one spot to No. 3, in the FCS Top 25 rankings. MSU faced a three-point deficit at halftime and held Drake to just 96 total yards in the second half.

Stephen F. Austin got smoked by Southern Methodist, 52-0, in a contest which it would like to forget. The 'Jacks turned the ball over 10 times, including six interceptions - four from starter Brady Attaway and two from freshman Joe Minden - but still managed to outgain the Mustangs, 466-328, in total yardage.

Each team would like nothing more then to make a statement after such uncharacteristic performances. However, since the Rob Ash era started in Bozeman, MSU has not lost a regular-season non-conference game at home.

Prediction: Montana State 42, Stephen F. Austin 21

Albany Great Danes (2-0) at No. 5 Youngstown State Penguins (2-0), 4 p.m.

Series record: First meeting

Last meeting: None

What to know: Youngstown State began the season ranked No. 13 in the preseason Top 25. Since then, the Penguins have won two games convincingly and skyrocketed to No. 5 in the FCS polls. YSU has not trailed this season and has scored in every quarter of play. That could change this week, with an opponent in Albany which might give Youngstown some trouble.

The Great Danes (2-0), also have won both of their games in similar fashion, averaging 246 rushing yards and 421 yards per game. Albany relies on its proven running back Drew Smith to lead the ground attack. The Great Danes are more comfortable establishing the run rather than the pass game. This will be a tall task versus a YSU defense which limited Valparaiso to 190 yards of total offense, including just 47 yards on the ground.

Coach Eric Wolford wants to bring back the tough mentality that the "Ice Castle" once had on opponents. If his quarterback Kurt Hess and running back Jamaine Cook can keep improving each week, their coach's wish could become reality.

Prediction: Youngstown State 45, Albany 28

No. 17 Stony Brook Seawolves (2-0) at Syracuse Orangemen (0-2), 4 p.m. (Time Warner, SNY, ESPN3.com)

Series record: First meeting

Last meeting: None

What to know: Through two games, Stony Brook leads the FCS in total offense, averaging 591 yards per game, and has scored 18 touchdowns already. Of course, the statistics certainly have to do with the Seawolves' opponents, Central Connecticut State and Pace, whose defenses resemble nothing like the Syracuse Orangemen.

Syracuse is putting impressive numbers of its own, scoring 35 points per game and senior quarterback Ryan Nassib has passed for 804 yards and six touchdowns. The Orange lost a heartbreaker versus Northwestern in Week 1 and played the nation's No. 2-ranked Southern California Trojans and gave them a run for their money, losing, 42-29.

SBU has yet to be tested in any way and will not be taken lightly against a team which desperately needs to get in the win column. The Seawolves put up 77 points versus Pace, which probably hurt their chances to sneak into the Carrier Dome undetected. Expect both defenses to give up a lot of points.

Prediction: Syracuse 50, Stony Brook 38

No. 4 James Madison Dukes (2-0) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (1-0), 4:30 p.m.; FedEx Field - Landover, Md. (ROOT Sports)

Series record: West Virginia leads, 1-0

Last meeting: West Virginia 45, James Madison 10 (Sept. 25, 2004)

What to know: The No. 9-ranked FBS West Virginia Mountaineers have had two weeks to prepare for James Madison. WVU has one of the top offenses in the nation and will be extremely difficult to slow down. In Week 1, at home, the Mountaineers defeated Marshall, 69-34. Quarterback Geno Smith was nearly perfect, completing 32-of-36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns.

In 2010, the Dukes toppled Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, 21-16, but the Hokies were coming off a loss on the previous Monday night. There's no doubt JMU has looked flawless in its victories this season - averaging 304 rushing yards and 48 points per game - but it will be almost impossible to take down a FBS championship-caliber Mountaineers team.

There will be plenty of purple and gold in the stands at FedEx Field in a rare neutral-site FCS-versus-FBS contest. WVU is 12-0 all- time versus FCS foes and should make it 13-0 at Saturday's contest.

Prediction: West Virginia 55, James Madison 24

No. 20 Eastern Kentucky Colonels (1-1) at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-0), 6 p.m.

Series record: First meeting

Last meeting: None

What to know: Eastern Kentucky got back on track last week in its win over Morehead State. The Colonels attempted 63 rushes for 282 yards and its time of possession was 41 minutes, 46 seconds. Running back and Walter Payton Award candidate Matt Denham had 34 of those carries for 166 yards and one touchdown. Senior quarterback T.J. Pryor made his way back into the starting lineup after missing the opener with an injury.

This is good news for EKU, which faces an athletic Coastal Carolina secondary led by defensive back Dontavais Johnson. The Chanticleers survived triple overtime to take down SoCon foe Furman, 47-45. Coastal has looked good this season and is in a great position to come away with another win before it faces a daunting three-game stretch. On top of playing EKU at home, Coastal plays two road games at Toledo and Appalachian State, then has a bye week before facing Stony Brook in the Big South opener.

Eastern Kentucky lives and dies by its run game, while Coastal has only allowed two total rushing scores through two games.

Prediction: Coastal Carolina 24, Eastern Kentucky 23 (OT)

Campbell Fighting Camels (1-1) at No. 6 Old Dominion Monarchs (2-0), 6 p.m.

Series record: Old Dominion leads, 3-0

Last meeting: Old Dominion 41, Campbell 14 (Sept. 3, 2011)

What to know: Old Dominion trailed Duquesne, 20-10, at halftime in its season opener and wound up winning, 57-23. Whatever coach Bobby Wilder said in his halftime speech seemed to work.

The Monarchs took down local rival Hampton last week and once again it was a dominating performance on both sides of the ball. In fact after two games, opponents are gaining only 42 yards per game on the ground and 155 through the air. The Monarchs are ranked third in the FCS in passing offense (352 yards per game) and total offense (536) and are fifth in scoring offense (51 points per game).

On the other hand, Campbell looks completely overmatched entering this game. The Camels (1-1) defeated Virginia-Wise by 10 points for their first win of the season, but also lost in Week 1 to Shorter, 31-20, which was making its Division II debut after competing as an NAIA program.

Old Dominion and quarterback Taylor Heinicke should roll into its Sept. 22 contest versus New Hampshire.

Prediction: Old Dominion 56, Campbell 7

Western Carolina Catamounts (1-1) at No. 9 Wofford Terriers (2-0), 7 p.m.

Series record: Wofford leads, 22-12

Last meeting: Wofford 42, Western Carolina 24 (Nov. 5, 2011)

What to know: Coach Mark Speir takes his Western Carolina squad on the road to play a difficult conference opener in Spartanburg, S.C., versus Wofford. WCU beat Mars Hill in Week 1, but lost to former Southern Conference foe and current Conference USA member Marshall, 52-24. The general consensus around the SoCon is that Western Carolina is already more competitive under its new coach, but few expect the Catamounts to make any noise here.

The Terriers looked about as good as possible versus Division II Lincoln last week, winning, 82-0. Wofford hasn't been challenged at all this season, and the triple option offense looks solid under new leader, quarterback Brian Kass. Fullback Eric Breitenstein barely played against Lincoln but has already amassed 254 yards and four touchdowns.

Wofford coach Mike Ayers will keep his team level-headed as the Terriers begin play in the SoCon.

Prediction: Wofford 52, Western Carolina 17

Alabama State Hornets (1-1) at Grambling State Tigers (0-2), 7 p.m. (SWAC-TV)

Series record: Grambling State leads, 25-10

Last meeting: Alabama State 31, Grambling State 17 (Sept. 17, 2011)

What to know: Alabama State opened its season with a 38-28 loss to Bethune- Cookman in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Last week, the Hornets bounced back with a 29-7 victory over Mississippi Valley State. Running back Isaiah Crowell and quarterback Greg Jenkins each had two touchdowns, leading the way for an offense which is still progressing.

Grambling State had high expectations after winning the SWAC title in 2011. This year, the Tigers have already dropped two games, losing in a shocker Week 1 versus Alcorn State, and they were dismantled by Texas Christian last week, 56-0.

Both teams need a win to gain momentum moving forward. The conference race will be wide-open once again, but Alabama State knows firsthand how small the margin of error is if a team takes an opponent lightly in the SWAC.

Prediction: Alabama State 31, Grambling State 25

No. 2 Sam Houston State Bearkats (1-0) at Baylor Bears (1-0), 7 p.m. (Fox College Sports)

Series record: Baylor leads, 3-0

Last meeting: Baylor 34, Sam Houston State 3 (Sept. 4, 2010)

What to know: The Bearkats play their first of two FBS contests this week when they travel to Waco, Texas. Incarnate Word, the team Sam Houston State absolutely dominated last week, probably didn't help SHSU prepare for an extremely athletic Baylor team.

Without Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright, Baylor put up 59 points and totaled 613 yards of offense in a win over Southern Methodist. The Bears have had two weeks to prepare for the Bearkats' dynamic offense.

Timothy Flanders became Sam Houston State's all-time leading rusher in last week's 117-yard, two-touchdown performance. Everyone seems to know about Flanders and fellow offensive star Richard Sincere, but signal-caller Brian Bell will be the key if SHSU has any chance of victory this week.

Sam Houston beat New Mexico last season by three points in overtime and this game could be closer than expected. However, Baylor is well aware of the success the Bearkats have had and will not be caught off guard.

Prediction: Baylor 42, Sam Houston State 31

No. 19 McNeese State Cowboys (2-0) at Weber State Wildcats (0-2), 8 p.m.

Series record: Tied, 1-1

Last meeting: McNeese State 23, Weber State 22 (1992)

What to know: It's hard to believe Weber State faces its most winnable game this week versus an unfamiliar foe in the Southland Conference's McNeese State. Not to discredit the Cowboys in any way, shape or form, but Weber already has an 0-2 record - as a result of playing back-to-back FBS programs - losing on the road against Fresno State and Bringham Young.

WSU seeks its fifth straight win in a home opener, while quarterback Mike Hoke is completing 65 percent of his passes. He even has room for improvement, having thrown just one touchdown and one interception.

On the other hand, the Wildcats will have their hands full with a dangerous McNeese running attack, which averages 290 rushing yards per game.

It's an important non-conference game for both teams. McNeese State has already built momentum, while Weber State is looking to find momentum.

Prediction: McNeese State 31, Weber State 17

Last Week's Record: 24-4 (.857)

Season Record: 47-9 (.839)

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