Week 1 of the FCS slate was a fun one for fans across the country and this weekend should produce more of the same. From playoff grudge matches to rivalry games, there’s plenty on the docket this week. The Big Sky sees some significant games as does the Missouri Valley. Jackson State again takes the main stage with another big time HBCU showdown. Week 2 is here.
Playoff Rematches Highlight Slate
There will be a couple playoff grudge matches this weekend and it all gets started on Thursday night. The only FCS game on Thursday evening will also be the only one between two Top 25 teams this week as #14 UT Martin (1-0) travels to Springfield to take on #5 Missouri State (1-0). The Skyhawks beat the Bears in a 32-31 upset in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
Jason Shelley and company will be looking to enact their revenge and are riding in high off a 27-14 win at Central Arkansas last week. Shelley, who threw for 3,352 yards in 2021, had himself a fine game against UCA, completing 18 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown. He’ll look to avoid interceptions against a ball-hawing UT Martin defense that picked him off three times in last year’s meeting.
The Skyhawks themselves are coming in off a win after beating Western Illinois last weekend. They no longer have star QB Keon Howard running the show but it shouldn’t be much of an issue as starter Dresser Winn was actually the signal caller during the playoffs last fall with Howard out due to injury. Last week against the Leathernecks, Winn looked sharp as he threw for 317 yards and three scores. Both defenses could be in for a long day if the quarterbacks are on point.
UT Martin and Missouri State will kick off at 8:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
Another playoff rematch will go down on Saturday evening in Brookings as UC Davis (0-1) comes into town to face #2 South Dakota State (0-1). The Jackrabbits rolled over the Aggies in the opening round of the postseason last year but both teams are coming off losses to FBS opponents in Week 1.
SDSU put up a mighty effort in their 7-3 defeat to Iowa last weekend. The defense held the Hawkeyes to just 166 total yards of offense and didn’t allow a touchdown (those seven points came via two safeties and a field goal). Quarterback Mark Gronowski will have to be better than he was last week, though. He threw for just 87 yards on ten completed passes. Running back Isaiah Davis also struggled to find his footing with just 50 rush yards on 18 carries.
The team suffered a few injuries last game but none more notable than tight end Tucker Kraft who went down with an ankle injury. He is currently rehabbing for a few weeks and will not play this weekend.
Meanwhile UC Davis fell to Cal 34-14 but there were still several positives. Running back and Preseason Big Sky Offensive MVP Ulonzo Gilliam ran for 115 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Gilliam also caught seven passes. Receiver Chaz Davis looks to be a force on the outside after leading the the team with 53 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Golden Bears.
The Aggies and the Jacks will kick off at 7:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+ on Saturday.
#13 Jackson State Clashes with Tennessee State in Southern Heritage Classic
Jackson State (1-0) cemented themselves as perhaps the best HBCU team in the country last week with their thumping of Florida A&M down in Miami. Now JSU hits the road again to take on Tennessee State (0-1) in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis and the Tigers team they’re facing isn’t too shabby either.
Sophomore QB Shedeur Sanders lit it up for Jackson State in their 59-3 win over FAMU, completing 29 of his 33 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns. The efforts earned Sanders FCS Player of the Week accolades.
Freshman DB Travis Hunter, the top recruit in the nation last year, made his collegiate debut for JSU last Sunday and had an impressive showing. In the first quarter he tipped a ball that was nearly intercepted and made several other plays throughout the course of the contest.
Jackson State can hurt its opponents in a variety of ways and they did last week. Offense, defense and special teams all registered touchdowns against the Rattlers meaning that Tennessee State will need to be honed in on all sides.
TSU will be looking to beat Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic for the first time since 2017. In last year’s game JSU won 38-16.
Tennessee State is coming off a one-score loss to Eastern Washington in which quarterback Draylen Ellis threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Devon Starling will likely see the bulk of the carries as he toted the ball 25 times against EWU for 207 yards and a score.
Offense isn’t necessarily where TSU should be concerned. The defense though, and specifically the pass defense, will need to tighten up if they’re to have a prayer against Sanders and company. Last Saturday Eastern Washington got five touchdowns through the air and had nearly 400 passing yards. Also to note, as a freshman Sanders threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns against Tennessee State last year in this game.
JSU and TSU will kick off at 7:00 PM (ET).
Hornets, #10 Blue Hens Renew “Route 1” Rivalry
Although it only dates back to 2007, the “Route 1” rivalry between Delaware and Delaware State is a fun one. The Hornets (1-0) have never beaten the Blue Hens (1-0) in their ten meetings and will be looking to do so for the first time in Newark on Saturday.
The MEAC’s Delaware State group could have their hands full with a very talented Delaware team who is fresh off an upset over Navy. First-year head coach Ryan Carty has his team flying high and toppling the Midshipmen has given the #10 Blue Hens tremendous confidence.
Quarterback Nolan Henderson will look to replicate his two-touchdown performance against Navy. He will be helped greatly by receivers Chandler Harvin and Brett Buckman, a duo that combined for four catches, 103 yards and a score last week.
Defensively, Delaware is hoping for linebacker Johnny Buchanan to pick up where he left off against the Mids. Buchanan earned himself CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his incredible 23 tackles last game, a mark that tied the program record.
On the other side, Delaware State rolls into this game with a decisive 34-0 win over Lincoln (PA) under their belt, the first time DSU has shut out an opponent since the 2007 season. The Hornets know how to spread the wealth in running game as three different ball carriers scored touchdowns last week.
DSU returns all 11 starters from last year’s defense that led the MEAC with 314.6 yards per game in 2021. Additionally, the Hornets D was also tops in their conference for passing yards given up per game last fall with 188.8.
The game will kick off at 6:00 PM (ET) on FloFootball.
#3 Montana Hosts South Dakota
The Grizzlies will play at home again this weekend and will welcome in the Coyotes in what will be a battle of two playoff teams from last season. Montana (1-0) is coming off a very impressive performance against Northwestern State in which their star-studded defense pitched a shutout. South Dakota (0-1) conversely failed to score any points in their road loss to FBS Kansas State last weekend.
Transfer QB Lucas Johnson will serve as UM’s signal caller and his debut with the Griz went very well last weekend. Johnson completed 15 of his 24 passes against the Demons for 208 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw no interceptions.
Where Montana really shines, though, is their defense. Linebacker Patrick O’Connell, who grabbed a pick last week, was the Preseason Big Sky Defensive MVP and spearheads the charge. Safety Robby Hauck and corner Justin Ford, both all-conference selections, will patrol the secondary. Ford is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he had an FCS-best nine interceptions.
South Dakota, meanwhile, is led by quarterback Carson Camp. Camp threw for 2,252 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago but struggled against the Wildcats last weekend, throwing for just 139 yards. Junior linebacker Brock Morgensen will man the middle for the Coyotes. Morgensen led the team in tackles last Saturday with 12 (one for loss).
Despite the loss last week, South Dakota is a rising program under head coach Bob Nelson. Nelson’s team beat three ranked teams last fall including a then-#4 South Dakota State squad at home. The Coyotes got to the postseason for the first time since 2017 a year ago and will be looking to make a return trip this season.
Montana and South Dakota last met in the 2019 campaign with the Grizzlies winning in Vermillion 31-17. This year’s edition of the game in Missoula will take place on Saturday and will kick off at 3:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
#12 Eastern Washington Takes on Oregon
Eastern Washington (1-0) is no stranger to playing big time Pac-12 foes like Oregon (0-1) in non-conference play. In fact, the Eagles have squared up with the likes of the Ducks several times before, the last meeting coming in 2015, a game that Oregon won 61-42.
This time, however, the two teams come in with questions swirling. EWU did best Tennessee State last weekend but it wasn’t as convincing as fans in Cheney had hoped. The Eagles’ 36-29 win wasn’t sealed until DB Tre Weed snagged an interception late in the fourth quarter.
This offseason EWU had to say farewell to one of the most prolific passers in school history as Walter Payton Award winner Eric Barriere graduated. Gunner Talkington took over QB duties and looked good in Week 1. Talkington threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns along with no interceptions against the Tigers. He also led the Eagles in rushing with 60 yards on nine carries.
Eastern Washington’s offense will need to be on point against an Oregon team that is coming in fresh off a thumping at the hands of last year’s national champion Georgia team. The Ducks, under first-year coach Dan Lanning, lost to the Bulldogs 49-3.
The Eagles will be looking for their second upset over an FBS opponent in as many years and their first over a Pac-12 team since 2016 when they beat Washington State 45-42. Last year these Eagles bested UNLV in double overtime in Las Vegas.
EWU and Oregon will kick off late on Saturday evening in Autzen Stadium at 8:30 PM (ET) on the Pac-12 Network.
Other Week 2 FCS Games
SATURDAY - Western Illinois @ Minnesota, Thomas More @ Duquesne, Charleston Southern @ North Carolina State, Colgate @ Maine, Virginia-Lynchburg @ Presbyterian, Villanova @ LIU, Post @ Stonehill, Fordham @ Monmouth, Bucknell @ VMI, Southern Utah @ Utah, Lafayette @ Temple, Dayton @ Youngstown State, Michigan Tech @ St. Thomas, Missouri S&T @ Drake, Morehead State @ Montana State, Norfolk State @ James Madison, Kennesaw State @ Cincinnati, North Carolina A&T @ North Dakota State, Furman @ Clemson, Samford @ Georgia, Portland State @ Washington, Northern Iowa @ North Dakota, Northern Colorado @ Wyoming, East Tennessee State @ The Citadel, Indiana State @ Purdue, Eastern Kentucky @ Bowling Green, Missouri Valley State @ Austin Peay, South Carolina State @ Bethune-Cookman, Wagner @ Rutgers, Alabama State @ UCLA, Lehigh @ Georgetown, San Diego @ Cal Poly, Incarnate Word @ Nevada, St. Francis @ Richmond, Rhode Island @ Bryant, Holy Cross @ Buffalo, Campbell @ William & Mary, Louisiana Christian @ Stetson, Sacred Heart @ Central Connecticut State, Winston-Salem State @ North Carolina Central, Tuskegee @ Hampton, Taylor @ Butler, Gardner-Webb @ Coastal Carolina, Robert Morris @ Miami (OH), Albany State @ Florida A&M, Southeastern Louisiana @ Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina @ Georgia Tech, Assumption @ Merrimack, Stephen F. Austin @ Louisiana Tech, Southeast Missouri State @ Southern Illinois, Lamar @ SMU, Chattanooga @ Eastern Illinois, Central Arkansas @ Ole Miss, Alcorn State @ Tulane, New Hampshire @ Albany, North American @ Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Barton @ Davidson, Howard @ South Florida, UVA Wise @ North Alabama, Lindenwood @ Houston Baptist, Northwestern State vs Grambling State (Shreveport, LA), Alabama A&M @ Troy, Weber State @ Utah State, Morgan State @ Towson, Northern Arizona @ Sam Houston, Jacksonville State @ Murray State, Texas A&M-Commerce @ Tennessee Tech, Southern @ LSU, Texas Southern @ North Texas, Valparaiso @ Illinois State, McNeese @ Rice, Tarleton State @ TCU, Nicholls @ ULM, Idaho @ Indiana, Prairie View A&M @ Abilene Christian, Idaho State @ San Diego State, Chadron State @ Utah Tech