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Predicting Round Two of the FCS Playoff

Another eight games are on the schedule on Saturday for round two, including six rematches. Will the playoffs provide different outcomes?

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After going 6-2 on picks last weekend, let's see if we can continue the trend. It'll be more difficult this time, with some of the weaker automatic qualifiers out of the picture. Again, every game will be streamed live on ESPN3 throughout the day from noon eastern through midnight, so while the FBS schedule is a bit thinner for conference championship week, take out your iPad and check out these matchups on your second screen.

MY PICKS:

  • Seventh seeded Richmond and William and Mary kick things off at noon in the Battle for Virginia. I expected W&M to roll over Duquesne in the first round, but barely squeaked by in a 52-49 win. The Tribe committed four turnovers in that one, and won't be given the same chances to come back from those mistakes against Richmond. These two teams met up just a few weeks ago, with Richmond taking home a convincing 20-9 win. I think Spiders QB Kyle Lauletta will again be able to exploit some holes in the Tribe defense, so give me Richmond.
  • Fifth seeded James Madison hosts Colgate at 1 PM. The Raiders reached the second round via a 27-20 win over New Hampshire in the opening round. RB James Holland scored all four touchdowns for the Raiders last week, but they'll need a more balanced attack in order to take down the Dukes. Without all-everything QB Vad Lee at the helm, JMU hasn't looked quite as invincible, and I think Colgate will do just enough to win this one and move on.
  • The other 1 PM matchup is Charleston Southern and Citadel, which pulled off the upset of Coastal Carolina last week to get to the second round. Another rematch here: The Bucs beat Citadel back in late September 33-20. The Bulldogs were up early in that game, but got outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter. Although I think Citadel has improved as a team since that loss, Charleston Southern hasn't lost to an FCS opponent all year, and I don't think that trend will end on Saturday.
  • Number one overall seed Jacksonville State takes on Chattanooga, which killed Fordham 50-20 last week, at 2 PM. The Gamecocks have looked impressive and dominant all year, but I think they might be just slightly overrated. The closest game they've played all year was back in week one, when RB Troymaine Pope scored a TD with 2:41 left to take a 3-point lead over the Mocs, a game they would win 23-20. Chattanooga QB Jacob Huesman didn't have his best game, but he's gotten a handle on this offense that he didn't in week one. I'll take Chattanooga to pull the upset.
  • Second seeded Illinois State will take on MVFC rival Western Illinois for the second time this season at 2 PM as well. The Redbirds won the first matchup 48-28 in week eight, and I don't expect this result to be much different. The Leathernecks surprised me by holding Dayton to just seven points in the first round of the playoffs, but Illinois State is in another class. Expect QB Tre Roberson and RB Marshaun Coprich to once again lead a dominant effort on the ground, and for Illinois State to advance to the quarterfinals.
  • Bob Stitt and Montana stunned North Dakota State to open the 2015 college football season, and have a chance to do so once again, this time in the Fargodome, when they take on the third seeded Bison at 3:30 PM. Freshman QB Easton Stick has been efficient, if not spectacular, for the Bison in Carson Wentz's stead. Without the future NFL QB leading the offense they've had to lean on the running game, which doesn't have a #1-type feature back and a defense that hasn't quite looked as dominant as years past. Meanwhile, Brady Gustafson has transformed the Griz offense into a high-powered machine once again since returning from injury. I'll ride with Montana to pull another upset of the Bison.
  • McNeese State will host Sam Houston State at 7 PM in yet another regular season rematch. McNeese is the only undefeated team left in the FCS and handled the Bearkats 27-10 a month ago. SHSU QB Jared Johnson couldn't figure out the Cowboys' defense last time, and with an extra week of rest and preparation, I expect McNeese to be able to do the same this week. McNeese State will move on to the quarterfinals.
  • Portland State hosts Northern Iowa in the nightcap, kicking off at 10 PM eastern. I wasn't sure UNI even deserved to be in the playoff, but they proved me wrong by demolishing Eastern Illinois 53-17. The Panthers offense is rolling, averaging over 50 points per game in the last four. And that's in the MVFC. I don't think the Vikings will be able to keep up, so I'll take UNI to move on.