The FCS season is entering the “playoff push” part of the year and many teams around the country are fighting for their postseason lives in Week 10. Others who have already all but locked up spots are trying to position themselves in the bracket meaning that this week’s slate of games will have a ton riding on them. From the Missouri Valley to the Ohio Valley, here’s what’s at stake this weekend around the subdivision.
UT Martin Hosts KSU
The Skyhawks (5-3) will look to keep pace atop the Ohio Valley this week when they welcome in Kennesaw State (4-4) for their final non-conference game of the season. UT Martin has only lost one game against FCS competition this year while KSU is looking to win its third straight after starting the season 2-4.
The play of the quarterbacks will be big in this one. UT Martin’s Dresser Winn is one of only 14 signal callers to have over 2,200 passing yards right now and he averaged 276.1 yards per contest. He will need to clean up the interceptions, however, as he’s thrown four over the last three games after only throwing one all season before that.
On the other side, Kennesaw State needs a solid performance from Xavier Shepherd. Shepherd has not quite had the season many anticipated going into this year as he’s only rushed for seven touchdowns and thrown five. Last year he was the best FCS quarterback in terms of rushing touchdowns with 23 but this fall hasn’t even started in all of the Owls’ games after some early season struggles. Last week against Charleston Southern he only completed 44% of his passes.
He will have a tall task against a very good Skyhawks defense that’s tied for third in the country with 13 picks. Defensive back Shaun Lewis is responsible for four of those interceptions and could easily add another against Shepherd who’s thrown four this year.
The rushing attack for the Skyhawks will also be key. Zak Wallace leads the team with 757 yards and 14 touchdowns on 123 carries this year and is capable of putting up monster games. Twice this fall he’s rushed for over 150 yards including last week against Houston Christian in which he ran for 155 and four scores.
This contest is likely the make or break for Kennesaw State’s playoff hopes (if they aren’t gone already). The Owls have had a disappointing season by many metrics this year as they were picked by many to be the AQ7’s representative in the field and possibly receive a seed in the tournament.
UT Martin, meanwhile, still has all its goals in front of itself as the OVC title and a playoff trip are well within reach, especially with a victory here. Southeast Missouri State lost last week and, since they don’t meet the Skyhawks head-to-head this year, it sets up UTM nicely if they can win this one.
The game kicks off at 1:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+
Weber State Looks to Hand Sac State First Loss
Weber State (7-1) has been part of games with major Big Sky implications for several weeks now and this Saturday will be no different as they welcome in the #2 overall team in the nation Sacramento State (8-0). The Wildcats, fresh off a big win over Montana, are trying to improve to 5-1 in conference play while the Hornets will be looking to stay unbeaten on the year.
WSU will need to find a way to slow down a very deadly Sac State run game that’s putting up nearly 270 yards per outing. Last week against Idaho, running back Cameron Skattebo and dual threat QB Asher O’Hara racked up a combined 263 yards on the ground and those numbers are pretty par for the course. Skattebo is up to 984 total rush yards this year while O’Hara has 610.
On the other side, Weber State will be led by quarterback Bronson Barron and receiver Ty MacPherson. Barron and MacPherson have connected for eight touchdowns this year including a big one last week against Montana. Barron has thrown for 1,738 yards this year and MacPherson has been on the receiving end of 654 of them.
Sac State knows how to slow down opposing QBs, though. They’ve registered 10 sacks this season and have recorded seven interceptions. Linebacker Armon Bailey is responsible for four of those sacks and has forced two fumbles while Marte Mapu has authored two picks and a PBU.
If things are close, Weber State’s special teams could prove to be the difference. Return man Abraham Williams has two kick return touchdowns this year while Hudson Schenck has one in the punt game. They’re capable of busting one loose and in a game like this they may need one from wherever they can get it.
The Hornets will not lose hope of a Big Sky title with a loss here but the Wildcats would. Only Montana State and Sacramento State are still undefeated in conference play and if WSU drops this one then they would have lost to both of those teams and won’t be able to catch up.
Neither team will lose a playoff spot by losing this game but there’s plenty to play for as far as bracket positioning is concerned. Sac State can almost assure itself a seed with a win here and Weber State could see its shot at a seed slip if they lose.
The contest will start at 3:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
UNH, Richmond Meet in Big CAA Clash
The Wildcats (6-2) are coming off a bye and sit atop the CAA standings right now but will face one of their toughest tests of the season on Saturday when they travel to Virginia to face Richmond (6-2). The Spiders are seeking their fourth consecutive victory and seventh of the year against a UNH team that has only dropped road contest this fall.
Richmond quarterback Reece Udinski is starting to heat up again after a bumpy showing against Villanova in Week 7. Udinski has thrown five touchdowns and only one interception over the last two contests and is completing a whopping 80% of his passes in that span. He could have a big day against a UNH defense that’s surrendering over eight yards per throw and 227.9 yards per game.
Across the field, UNH quarterback Max Brosmer will be looking to add to his 14 touchdowns and 1,724 pass yards. Bosmer has four games this season in which he’s thrown for multiple scores including the big win against Elon a couple weeks ago.
Running back Dylan Laube will be a key asset for Brosmer and the offense here. Richmond’s defense gives up just 113 yards per game on the ground but Laube averages five yards per carry and over 100 per contest. Something will have to give.
If UNH comes out on top here then they have a fairly clear shot at a CAA title with a 6-0 record in conference play and games against Rhode Island and Maine remaining. They would also pick up their seventh win which would almost promise them a spot in the playoff field, a place they haven’t been since 2017.
Conversely, if the Spiders can find a way to win, then they too would be almost assured a playoff spot. Richmond would have its seventh win and fifth in CAA action. Unlike UNH, though, the Spiders still have two brutal games left with the likes of Delaware and William & Mary.
FloFootball will carry the game at 3:30 PM (ET).
EKU Hopes to Keep AQ7 Hopes Alive Against Central Arkansas
There’s no two ways about it, Eastern Kentucky (5-3) needs a win this Saturday against WAC-ASUN Challenge (AQ7) leader Central Arkansas (4-4) if they are to have any hope of reaching the playoffs later this month. The Colonels have won two straight but are just 1-2 in the AQ7 while the Bears are also seeking their third victory in a row.
EKU signal caller Parker McKinney has already surpassed a career-best passing mark for the season with 2,513 yards on 301 attempts. He has 20 touchdowns on the year and has not thrown a pick since October 1 against Southern Utah. McKinney will likely look to receivers Jaden Smith and Jayden Higgins often. The tandem has hauled in 76 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns between them this season.
Central Arkansas will be paced by running back Darius Hale who has rushed for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns this fall. Hale is seventh best among FCS running backs in total yards and tied for sixth best in rushing scores. He is coming off a huge performance in which he ran for 255 yards against North Alabama.
Stopping Hale will be tricky and Eastern Kentucky will likely lean on junior linebacker Eli Hairston in that department. Hairston has racked up 31 solo tackles and a team-leading 52 total stops. He’s also made 2.5 tackles for loss and has nabbed an interception.
As previously stated, EKU needs this win. If they don’t get it then they most likely won’t be seeing action beyond the regular season. Even with a victory, it’s not promise they are a playoff team as they would need outside help. UCA, though, can set itself up well with a win. The Bears would be 4-0 and remain at the top of the AQ7 standings, moving one step closer to clinching that auto bid.
The game will begin at 5:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
#1 Jackrabbits Seek Revenge Against UNI
South Dakota State (8-1) has proved its mettle all season long as perhaps the best team the FCS has to offer but they’ll be put to the test against a team that hasn’t been very kind to them in recent memory; Northern Iowa. The Panthers (5-4) are scrapping to keep their playoff hopes alive and looking to beat the Jacks for a second straight year while SDSU is trying to cement itself atop the MVC.
SDSU running back Isaiah Davis will play a big role against the UNI defense that’s stingy against the run. Davis has rushed for 777 yards this year but the Panthers D is giving up just 157.7 yards per contest on the ground. Davis will be joined by fellow back Amar Johnson who has rushed for 429 yards this year and is seeing an increased role on offense as of late.
Northern Iowa’s offense will be commanded by quarterback Theo Day. Day has 2,471 pass yards and 19 touchdowns so far this year (both career bests). He had perhaps his best showing of the season last week as he threw five scores and no interceptions against Southern Illinois.
Day has the help of guys like Sam Schnee. Schnee has been the go-to pass catcher and leads the team with 630 yards on 41 receptions, good for an average of 15.4 yards per catch.
On the other side, South Dakota State QB Mark Gronowski will have to be wary of UNI defensive backs Benny Sapp III and Woo Governer. Sapp and Governer have combined for six interceptions this year with Governer having taken two back for touchdowns. Gronwoski has tossed only three picks all year.
Simply put, the Panthers need this win much more than the Jacks do. UNI cannot afford to lose a fifth game and still make the playoffs. Every game is a must-win from here on out. SDSU will be one big step closer to grabbing the #1 overall seed in the tournament and having homefield advantage throughout the postseason if the win. They’ll only have one game left will be undefeated in FCS play.
The Jacks and Panthers will kick off at 5:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
Other Week 10 FCS Games
THURSDAY - Alabama A&M @ Mississippi Valley State
FRIDAY - Alcorn State @ Prairie View A&M
SATURDAY - Brown @ Yale, Robert Morris @ Charleston Southern, Sacred Heart @ Duquesne, Lehigh @ Holy Cross, Norfolk State @ North Carolina A&T, St. Francis @ Georgetown, Morgan State @ Stony Brook, Dartmouth @ Princeton, Penn @ Cornell, North Dakota @ Indiana State, Fordham @ Bucknell, Lafayette @ Colgate, Columbia @ Harvard, Dayton @ Presbyterian, Wagner @ Stonehill, William & Mary @ Hampton, Monmouth @ Delaware, Maine @ Rhode Island, Central Connecticut State @ LIU, Stetson @ Davidson, Marist @ Morehead State, Delaware State @ South Carolina State, Missouri State @ South Dakota, Campbell @ Bryant, Villanova @ Towson, Albany @ Elon, Howard @ North Carolina Central, Wofford @ Western Carolina, St. Thomas @ Valparaiso, Chattanooga @ The Citadel, North Dakota State @ Western Illinois, Lindenwood @ Tennessee Tech, Youngstown State @ Illinois State, Eastern Washington @ Idaho, Northwestern State @ Texas A&M-Commerce, Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ Grambling State, VMI @ Samford, Houston Christian @ Incarnate Word, Southeastern Louisiana @ Lamar, Alabama State @ Bethune-Cookman, Butler @ San Diego, Montana State @ Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado @ Portland State, Austin Peay @ North Alabama, Southeast Missouri State @ Tennessee State, Idaho State @ UC Davis, Jackson State @ Texas Southern, Abilene Christian @ Tarleton State, Southern @ Florida A&M, Cal Poly @ Montana, Eastern Illinois @ McNeese, Southern Utah @ Utah Tech