FCS fans have been given a treat so far this season. There’s been exciting upsets over the FBS, nail-biting games within the subdivision and much more. Week three is now here and the non-conference portions of many teams’ schedules are winding down but there are still plenty of big matchups to look forward to. Here are the biggest things to know for this weekend.
Ivy League Season Gets Underway
This year’s Ivy League campaign will get going with all eight of the league’s programs playing their first games this weekend.
It all starts on Friday night when Harvard hosts Merrimack (1-1). The Crimson are coming off a successful 8-2 season and are looking to compete for another league title for 28th-year head coach Tim Murphy. The Warriors, meanwhile, ride in off of a big win over DII’s Assumption. The game will kick off at 7:00 PM (ET).
On Saturday, Brown will take on Bryant (0-2) at Brown Stadium. The Bears, who said goodbye to standout QB EJ Perry this offseason, are hoping to improve off a 2-8 run. Bryant, under head coach Chris Merritt, almost pulled off an upset over FBS Florida International in Week 1 before losing to Rhode Island last week. The Bears and Bulldogs will play at 12:30 PM (ET).
Colgate (1-1) will head to Philadelphia to take on Penn. Last year the Quakers had a down year and went just 1-6 in Ivy League play, finishing near the bottom of the conference. The Raiders, meanwhile, are fresh off a big win against Maine. Penn will kick off against Colgate at 1:00 PM (ET).
Princeton will hit the road to take on Stetson (2-0) at 1:00 PM (ET). The Tigers ended last season ranked #24 in the STATS poll and only lost one game. They’re looking to make another run this year while the Hatters are undefeated to start this season after wins against Concordia (MI) and Louisiana Christian.
Cornell will too be on the road to face the SoCon’s VMI Keydets (1-1). The Big Red are looking to improve on a two-win season in 2021 that saw them beat only one conference foe. VMI comes in with a win over Bucknell last week. The game will start at 1:30 PM (ET).
Last year’s Ivy League champion Dartmouth will be at home to play host to Valparaiso (1-1) at 1:30 PM (ET). The Mean Green only lost one game in 2021 (19-0 against Columbia) and finished last year ranked #20 per the STATS poll. Buddy Teevens, now in his 22nd season with the program, will be looking for a repeat performance this year. Meanwhile Valparaiso lost to Illinois State by a touchdown last week.
Yale will face a very good Holy Cross team in Worcester on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs went an even 5-5 last year and are looking to win the Ivy League crown for the first time since 2019. Holy Cross (2-0), a playoff team from a year ago, is seeking their third win of the season after upsetting Buffalo on a Hail Mary last week. is The Bulldogs and Crusaders will kick off at 2:00 PM (ET).
Columbia will begin with a road game at Marist (0-1). The Lions put together a 7-3 record last fall and with Al Bagnoli now in his seventh year, they’re looking for their second ever Ivy League championship. The last came in 1961. Marist had an early bye last weekend but lost to Georgetown to open their season. The contest begins at 6:00 PM (ET) on Saturday night.
All Ivy League games this weekend can be streamed on ESPN+ except for the Columbia-Marist game which will air on ESPN3.
Last Year’s Title Teams Look for Pac-12 Wins
Both Montana State and North Dakota State, the participants in last fall’s FCS national championship game, will have a similar challenge this weekend as each prepares to take on foes from the Pac-12. The Bison (2-0) will travel to Tucson for a matchup with Arizona (1-1) while the Bobcats (2-0) will be in Portland to face Oregon State (2-0).
For NDSU, many actually have the Bison pegged as favorites against the Wildcats on Saturday night. Arizona dropped their lone FCS game last year to Northern Arizona while North Dakota State has made a habit of upsetting FBS competition.
Cam Miller will command the offense for NDSU. Miller has only thrown 21 passes so far this season but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, that’s what the Bison like. 11 different ball carriers have gotten touches this year and eight of them have ran it six or more times.
Fullback Hunter Luepke leads the way for the bruising ground game that’s averaging 211.5 yards per contest this year. Expect North Dakota State to dial up another heavy dose of the ground game against the Wildcats on Saturday night, especially if they get a lead.
Defensively, the Bison have been just as effective this year. In their first two games, NDSU has given up just 408 total yards and has forced five turnovers. Opposing quarterbacks are having a tough time against a secondary that’s surrendering a mere 82.5 yards per game.
North Dakota State and Arizona face off at 11:00 PM (ET) on FS1.
Meanwhile Montana State will be facing a talented Oregon State squad. The Bobcats, last year’s national runner-up, come in with two blowout wins under their belt but now face their toughest competition they’ve seen thus far in 2022.
Tommy Mellott will serve as MSU’s signal caller but expect head coach Brent Vigen to bring in Wyoming-transfer Sean Chambers intermittently as well. Chambers was responsible for four touchdowns last week (two running and two passing). Mellott has thrown for 447 yards and four touchdowns this season.
The Bobcats will be without their top two running backs. Last year’s star Isaiah Ifanse is still nursing an injury from the spring while Lane Sumner, who ran for 176 yards in the season opener, will also miss with an elbow injury. This means Elijah Elliot will likely be MSU’s go-to guy on the ground.
Receivers like Ravi Alston and Willie Patterson will need to step if Montana State’s hampered offense wants a chance against an OSU squad that’s beaten the likes of Boise State and and Fresno State heading into this one.
MSU and Oregon State kick off at 8:00 PM (ET) on the Pac-12 Network.
Sac State, UNI Meet in Big Non-Conference Tilt
Going into the season, Sac State vs UNI was slated to be a big one. It’s even bigger now, though, seeing the two directions these teams are trending in. The #8 Hornets (1-0) are coming off an early bye week and looked dominant in their win over Utah Tech a couple weeks ago. It certainly seems as though Sacramento State will be right in the mix for another Big Sky title.
Northern Iowa (0-2) is heading the other way. The Panthers just dropped out of the rankings this week thanks to an upset loss at the hands of North Dakota last Saturday and now they are desperately looking for a win before the meat of conference play begins.
Sacramento State runs a two-QB system that centers around both Jake Dinniway and Asher O’Hara. O’Hara typically runs the ball more while Dunniway favors throwing but both have two passing touchdowns each this season so far. O’Hara ran for 101 yards in Sac State’s Week 1 win while Dunniway passed for 141.
Tight end Marshel Martin will likely be a big target for the Hornets offense. He caught five passes for two touchdowns against Utah Tech and finished last season second on the team in receiving with 53 catches for 649 yards.
Flipping over to the UNI side, the Panthers defense needs to tighten up if they are to slow down a potent Sac State offense. Northern Iowa is currently surrendering 38.5 points per game to its opponents this year thanks in large part to the 762 rushing yards the unit has allowed.
Quarterback Theo Day will call the signals on offense. Day has completed 40 of his 59 pass attempts this season for 620 yards and three touchdowns. Senior receiver Deion McShane will look to build on a strong start to his season. McShane has hauled in 12 passes for 263 yards and a score.
The game will kick off at 5:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
CAA Foes Delaware, Rhode Island Meet Up in Decisive Battle
Ryan Carty has the #9 Blue Hens (2-0) looking like shades of their late 2000s selves again this season but a new challenger is the CAA, #17 Rhode Island (2-0), is looking strong at the start of the season. This Saturday the two rising programs will clash in a big conference bout that may very well ultimately determine a league champion and/or playoff positioning down the line.
Delaware’s offense is producing at a high rate right now, outscoring its opponents 49-16 over the first two games. Nolan Henderson has been steady as could be at quarterback, passing for 429 yards and five touchdowns this season. He’s been helped greatly by receiver Thyrick Pitts who’s caught 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
UD’s defense has recovered four fumbles this season but is still looking to notch their first pick. Kedrick Whitehead is one of the best DBs in the country and could very well be the man to change that against URI quarterback Kasim Hill, who has only thrown one interception this season. Johnny Buchanan is also a major player on the Delaware D. He’s already totaled 38 tackles and a forced fumble this season.
If there’s one area that needs work for the Blue Hens, it’s the kicking game. Brandon Ratcliffe is off to a rough start to his 2022 campaign, having missed both his field goal attempts. If Rhode Island stays close and forces a field goal situation late, Ratcliffe could be the difference maker for better or worse.
The Rams, meanwhile, have already picked up a conference win (35-14 over Stony Brook) behind the play of their prolific offense that’s scored 35 points in each of their first two contests. The aforementioned Hill has thrown four touchdowns this year along with 526 yards.
Running backs Marques DeShields and Jaylen Smith have been splitting the reps in the backfield. Each have identical stat lines, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Expect both to be a significant part of Rhode Island’s game plan again this weekend.
URI and Delaware is set to begin at 1:00 PM (ET) on FloFootball.
Other Week 3 FCS Games
SATURDAY - Wofford @ Virginia Tech, Youngstown State @ Kentucky, Southern Illinois @ Northwestern, Richmond @ Lehigh, Villanova @ Army, Sacred Heart @ Morgan State, LIU @ Kent State, Abilene Christian @ Missouri, Montana @ Indiana State, Bucknell @ Central Michigan, Kentucky State @ Dayton, Albany @ Fordham, Georgetown @ Monmouth, Towson @ West Virginia, Grambling State @ Jackson State, Virginia-Lynchburg @ Delaware State, Hampton @ Norfolk State, Cal Poly @ South Dakota, Murray State @ Ball State, Drake @ Idaho, Morehouse vs Howard (East Rutherford, NJ), Central Arkansas @ Idaho State, Nicholls @ Southeast Missouri State, Austin Peay @ Alabama A&M, Presbyterian @ Western Carolina, William & Mary @ Lafayette, Stony Brook @ UMass, UT Martin @ Boise State, St. Francis @ Wagner, North Dakota @ Northern Arizona, Southern Utah @ Western Illinois, Southern vs Texas Southern (Arlington, TX), North Alabama @ Chattanooga, Kentucky Christian @ Morehead State, Charleston Southern @ Eastern Kentucky, Gardner-Webb @ Elon, North Carolina A&T @ Duke, North Carolina Central @ New Hampshire, The Citadel @ Mercer, Campbell @ East Carolina, Delta State @ Missouri Valley State, Northern Colorado @ Lamar, Missouri State @ Arkansas, Butler @ South Dakota State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ Oklahoma State, Keiser @ Lindenwood, St. Andrews @ Davidson, Samford @ Tennessee Tech, Northwestern State @ Southern Mississippi, Tennessee State @ Middle Tennessee, Eastern New Mexico @ Tarleton State, Texas A&M-Commerce @ Sam Houston, Central Connecticut State @ Southeastern Louisiana, Incarnate Word @ Prairie View A&M, Jacksonville State @ Tulsa, Maine @ Boston College, Eastern Illinois @ Illinois State, Furman @ East Tennessee State, Utah Tech @ Weber State, Alcorn State @ McNeese, San Diego @ UC Davis, Duquesne @ Hawaii