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FCS: Week 6 Preview, How to Watch

Conference races are heating up as October presses on.

Syndication: Wilmington News Journal William Bretzger/Delaware News Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The FCS season is already nearing its midway point and things are getting a little clearer each week. This weekend’s slate of games features several more big contests that will have long-lasting impacts on conference races and playoff spots. Only a few undefeated teams remain and some are putting their perfection on the line this week while others are just trying to stay afloat. Week 6 is primed to be a fun one.

Fordham Eyes First 5-1 Start Since 2015

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Rams in the rankings and, although they aren’t there quite yet, they’ll have a chance to break through when they take on Lehigh this Saturday. With Holy Cross garnering all the Patriot League attention so far this season, Fordham is vying to be the conference’s dark horse. If they want that, though, they’ll need to first get by the Mountain Hawks.

Rams quarterback Tim DeMorat is playing at an insane clip right now. He leads the FCS with 2,153 passing yards and 26 touchdowns just five games in. The next closest passer is UIW’s Lindsay Scott Jr. at 1,778 yards and 20 TDs. DeMorat is making a strong case to be this year’s Walter Payton Award recipient and he could be in for another monster performance against a Lehigh team that’s giving up over 300 yards per contest through the air.

Receiver Fotis Kokosioulis will look to aid DeMorat greatly as he’s done all season so far. Kokosioulis leads all FCS receivers with 772 yards and eight touchdowns. He averages over 15 yards per catch and has hauled in 50 receptions.

On the other side of the ball, look for linebacker Ryan Greenhagen to lead the charge. He leads the defense with 53 total tackles (three for loss) and also has 1.5 sacks. Greenhagen is capable of having huge games from time to time also. He currently holds the NCAA DI record for tackles in a single game with 31 against Nebraska last fall. His season best this year is 17 against Ohio.

Fordham has not been 5-1 since 2015 which was, coincidentally, the last time they qualified for the playoffs. Winning here would do wonders for the Rams’ chances at nabbing a spot again this year. Holy Cross is still on the docket later this season but regardless of how that game goes, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for the Patriot League to send two this year.

The contest will kick off at 12:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.

Missouri State Seeks Rebound Against Southern Illinois

Missouri State v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Saturday afternoon’s game between Missouri State and Southern Illinois features two teams heading in drastically different directions. The Salukis (3-2) were once staring down the barrel of an early-season bow-out after losing their first two contests. Since then they’ve spun off three straight to salvage their year. The Bears (2-3), though, have done the opposite. After an undefeated start they’ve dropped three in a row and need a win in the worst way.

It will all start with quarterback play in this one. MSU’s Jason Shelley is one of the best in the country and he’ll need to play like it if his team wants to avoid a fourth defeat. Shelley has thrown for 1,376 yards and 11 touchdowns this fall. On the other side, Nic Baker will hope to keep up his recent pace. Over the last three games, Baker has tossed seven touchdowns and only one interception.

Perhaps no one on the Bears team wants a rebound more than kicker Jose Pizano who missed two of his three field goal tries against North Dakota last week. He has been perfect on PATs this year (17-of-17) but has already missed three field goals during the first five games. In a contest that could be close, Pizano can’t afford any more missed kicks.

Southern Illinois will look to establish a healthy mix of pass and run when on offense. Running back Romeir Elliot has seen the majority of the carries this year with 62 and he leads the team with 308 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver D’Ante Cox is coming off a big game against Illinois State in which he eclipsed 100 yards on six catches.

There’s two ways to cut it, the Bears can’t afford to lose this one. If they do they can kiss their hopes for an MVC title goodbye and they might even lose a playoff spot which would be a major disappointment based on how they were perceived by many to be a Top 10 squad this preseason.

SIU would be in prime position, though, with a win. The Salukis would be 3-0 in conference action with a weak Western Illinois team on the horizon. There’s a lot on the line for both teams when they meet in Springfield this weekend.

The game will start at 3:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.

Delaware Looks to Stay Unbeaten at William & Mary

The Blue Hens are back. At least as of right now they are. Ryan Carty’s team is 5-0 for just the second time since 2010 and, now at #6 in the STATS rankings, they have their eyes on a deep playoff run later this year. The CAA schedule, though, is never easy and this week Delaware will see one of its toughest matchups yet as it hits the road on Saturday to take on #16 William & Mary.

Delaware boasts one of the best passing offenses in the country with quarterback Nolan Henderson. Henderson is having a fantastic year with 16 touchdowns already (third best among FCS quarterbacks) and 1,457 yards along with a completion percentage of 67.2%. He’s a large reason why the Blue Hens are undefeated as he’s tossed at least two touchdowns in each game so far this season.

Henderson could be in for another big day against the Tribe defense which is allowing over 11 yards per pass right now. They have not grabbed an interception since Week 3 against Lafayette but they are holding opposing passers to under 200 yards per game.

Where William & Mary shines is with their own offense but on the ground. Led by Bronson Yoder and Malachi Imoh, the Tribe’s running game ranks among the best in the country in terms of yards per game (241) and total yards (1,205). Yoder and Imoh have combined for 11 total touchdowns this season but Delaware’s rush defense has only surrendered two running scores up to this point.

Big picture this game could go a long way in determining whether or not anyone can catch the Blue Hens for the CAA title. With one conference loss already, the Tribe can ill-afford another. Losing to Delaware this week would not kill a chance at the postseason by any means but it likely would end any hope of a league championship.

Delaware, of course, is not guaranteed a CAA crown with a win here but if they do come out on top they’d be 4-0 in conference play with one of their tougher games behind them. Games with Villanova, Richmond and Elon are still ahead but right now the Hens have a lead on all of them and win here would lengthen that lead even more.

The contest will start at 3:30 PM (ET) on FloFootball.

#7 Weber State Hosts Eastern Washington on Saturday Night

Northern Arizona v Weber State Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Weber State has established themselves as a contender in the Big Sky this year. The Wildcats have ran out to an undefeated 4-0 start behind some big time wins over UC Davis and FBS Utah State. Jay Hill and his team, though, will welcome in another tough test this Saturday night when #24 Eastern Washington (1-3) rolls into Ogden.

The Eagles have been victims of a brutal schedule so far this season. Their only win came over Tennessee State in Week 1; after that they’ve lost three straight to Oregon, Montana State and Florida. It will get no easier this weekend as Weber State is currently #7 in the STATS polls and has not lost at home since early November last year.

What EWU will have going for them, though, is a prolific air attack led by QB Gunner Talkington and a pair of dynamic receivers in Efton Chism III and Freddie Roberson. Roberson leads the team with an average of 18.4 yards per catch (15 receptions) while Chism is best among Eagles wideouts with 20 catches. The duo have scored five touchdowns and racked up 460 receiving yards (over half of all of Talkington’s passing yards on the year).

Weber State, however, will lean on a defense that has made life hell on opposing passers. The Wildcats lead the FCS in total interceptions this season with 10 and that’s thanks in large part to cornerback Maxwell Anderson. Anderson has nabbed four picks to lead the country.

If Eastern Washington opts to turn to the ground game to avoid danger through the air, they’ll look to running back Micah Smith. Smith has carried the ball 35 times for 187 yards and two scores this season. He could be in for a long night, though, against a WSU rush defense that’s giving up only 84.8 yards per contest.

Offensively, Weber State will be led by signal-caller Bronson Barron and their own explosive receiver Ty MacPherson. The pair have hooked up for five touchdowns this season along with 313 pass yards. Running back Josh Davis will handle duties on the ground.

The Wildcats have not seen Eastern Washington since the 2018 season. That year they upset the then-#4 Eagles in Ogden and they’ll be looking to do the same here, only this time it won’t be an upset. A win here would all but cement the Wildcats as a heavyweight in the top-loaded Big Sky and it would almost certainly kill any hope EWU would have at a conference title and maybe even a playoff spot.

The game will kick off at 8:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.

Other Week 6 FCS Games

FRIDAY - Harvard @ Cornell

SATURDAY - Gardner-Webb @ Robert Morris, Dartmouth @ Yale, Princeton @ Lafayette, Albany @ Monmouth, Brown @ Central Connecticut State, Southern Connecticut @ Bryant, North Dakota State @ Indiana State, Marist @ Stetson, Norfolk State @ Morgan State, Merrimack @ Duquesne, Valparaiso @ Presbyterian, Wagner @ Columbia, Wofford @ Samford, Dayton @ Butler, East Tennessee State @ VMI, Florida A&M @ South Carolina State, Grambling State @ Alabama A&M, San Diego @ Drake, Davidson @ St. Thomas, Penn @ Georgetown, Maine @ Hampton, Towson @ Elon, Furman @ The Citadel, Texas Southern @ Arkansas-Pine Bluff, South Dakota @ South Dakota State, Tennessee Tech @ Southeast Missouri State, UT Martin @ Murray State, Jackson State @ Alabama State, Northwestern State @ Eastern Illinois, Stony Brook @ New Hampshire, Cal Poly @ Northern Arizona, Idaho State @ Montana State, Western Carolina @ Mercer, Bucknell @ Holy Cross, Charleston Southern @ Campbell, Lamar @ Incarnate Word, Lincoln (CA) @ Portland State, Texas A&M-Commerce @ Southeastern Louisiana, Lindenwood @ Central Arkansas, Southern @ Prairie View A&M, Illinois State @ Northern Iowa, Bethune-Cookman @ Tennessee State, North Alabama @ Kennesaw State, North Dakota @ Youngstown State, Alcorn State @ Mississippi Valley State, Abilene Christian @ Stephen F. Austin, Nichols @ Houston Christian, Tarleton State @ Southern Utah, Northern Colorado @ Sacramento State