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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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),
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
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,
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
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)
The Sports Network