November has arrived, bringing with it all the excitement and stress that always comes with the final three weeks of the FCS season. Many teams around the country are fighting to make sure they’ll still be playing after Thanksgiving while others are jockeying for seeds and potential bye weeks. Everything feels bigger now and that feeling should only grow in the coming weeks.
Week 10 is here and it's a doozy.
William & Mary, Albany Meet with Playoff Hopes on the Line
William & Mary and Albany find themselves trending in different directions when they meet this weekend. The Tribe (5-3, 3-2 CAA) have lost three of their last four and now are at risk of missing the playoffs altogether after being a national seed a season ago. The Great Danes (6-3, 4-1 CAA) are in on the heels of two straight wins but likewise know they need to keep stacking up the victories if they want to reach the postseason. Someone’s playoff dreams will likely get crushed in New York.
The sledding has been tough lately for William & Mary because they’ve been without their top running back since late September. Bronson Yoder has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for the better part of two months and the Tribe just haven’t been the same. Likely without him again this weekend, they will look to Malachi Imoh to again carry the load. This season, Imoh has rushed for 714 yards and two touchdowns. He’s posted five 100-yard games including last week against Monmouth.
The Tribe will also lean on quarterback Darius Wilson. Wilson is a dual-threat playmaker that’s accounted for nine scores and over 1,400 yards of offense this year. He’s completing passes at 59.7% clip and has only thrown two interceptions.
Albany will field one of the best linebackers in the nation on the other side with senior Dylan Kelly. Kelly, who has 108 total tackles this fall, has recovered two fumbles, forced another and nabbed two picks. He ranks fifth best among FCS defenders with 5.9 tackles for loss per contest. Kelly will be tasked with slowing down the duo of Imoh and Wilson.
The Great Danes offense will be led by quarterback Reese Poffenbarger. The sophomore signal-caller has thrown for 2,161 yards and 22 touchdowns this year. He only has two games in which he didn’t toss multiple TDs and both of those were against FBS opponents. Poffenbarger will have the talents of the dynamic receiver duo of Julian Hicks and Brevin Easton. Each has caught six touchdowns and has over 500 receiving yards.
Four losses looks like it won’t be enough to get into the postseason this year and after this game, either Albany or W&M will find themselves with that number. This really feels like a de-facto playoff contest. If the Great Danes win, their road the rest of the way is favorable with matchups against Stony Brook and Monmouth. The Tribe still have to face Hampton and Richmond.
The game can be streamed on FloSports at 1:00 PM (ET) on Saturday.
Chattanooga Hosts Furman to Determine SoCon Title
Chattanooga and Furman both find themselves in a dream scenario on Saturday: win this one and you don’t have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. The #14 Mocs (7-2, 6-1 SoCon) and the #2 Paladins (7-1, 5-0 SoCon) will clash in Tennessee and the winner will take home the conference title along with an automatic bid into the postseason. Furman still has not lost to an FCS opponent all year but Chattanooga has just as many wins and that should make for a fun one come Saturday.
The Paladins have gotten to this point on the back of an opportunistic defense that’s taken down some high-octane offenses. The Furman defense has taken the ball away 17 times this year and holds its opponents to under 20 points per game. Guys like Cally Chizik and Travis Blackshear play a major role in that department. Chizik leads the team with four interceptions while Blackshear has two along with seven PBUs.
With that being said, Mocs quarterback Chase Artopoeus is one of the best passers in the country right now. He’s fourth best in the FCS with 2,383 passing yards and has 18 touchdowns on the year. He’ll need another big game as Chattanooga is now without All-American running back Ailym Ford who’s season ended two weeks ago with a torn ACL.
Artopoeus’ counterpart in this one will be Furman QB Tyler Huff. Huff averages 181.5 pass yards per contest and has thrown nine touchdowns. He has also the squad’s second-leading rusher with 487 yards on the ground. Running back Dominic Roberto will be the other go-to guy for the Paladins’ rushing attack. Roberto has run for 613 yards and seven scores this season.
Chattanooga hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 but can end that streak with a win here. Furman is going for its second-straight postseason appearance and first SoCon title since 2018. Both teams have a good shot of making the playoff field regardless of outcome but wrapping up the auto bid weeks before the final whistle is a lot better than leaving it up to the committee.
The game will kick off at 1:30 PM (ET) on Saturday on ESPN+.
SDSU, NDSU Come Together in 115th “Dakota Marker”
It’s finally here. Since last meeting on the FCS’ biggest stage nine months ago, North Dakota State and South Dakota State have had this one circled on their calendars. The #1 Jackrabbits (8-0, 5-0 MVFC) again play the role of David but no team in the country wants to hand SDSU its first loss more than the #11 Bison (6-2, 3-2 MVFC). NDSU likely needs to win out to avoid playing a rare first-round playoff game but the Jacks are looking unbeatable as ever.
If North Dakota State wants a shot at snapping their four-game skid to SDSU, it will need to perform better in its run defense. In last year’s national championship, the Jacks ran wild for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Both of the main culprits are also back in running backs Isaiah Davis and Amar Johnson. That means that guys like linebacker Logan Kopps will need a big game. Kopps has a team-high five tackles for loss and three interceptions this year.
The Bison will also need a near-perfect performance from quarterback Cam Miller. Miller has completed 121 of his 159 pass attempts this year, good for a completion percentage of 76.1% and he’s only thrown two interceptions. He’ll need to continue to play turnover free against a South Dakota State defense that is great against the pass.
On the other side, Mark Gronowski will be under center for the Jacks. Gronowski has tossed 16 touchdowns this year and has his pick of the litter when it comes to offensive weapons. Jaxon and Jadon Janke are excellent on the outside as is freshman Griffin Wilde. Tight end Zach Heins is right there in that mix also.
Then there’s the SDSU defense which was smothering last week against a really good South Dakota team. Senior defensive end Cade Terveer is a beast up front with five sacks and six tackles for loss while linebacker Jason Freeman has 48 stops and two fumble recoveries. Freeman has stepped up in the absence of All-American Adam Bock who has missed most of this season.
It’s odd to see North Dakota State on the other side of this coin but right now the Jackrabbits are undisputedly the best team in the land and it will take a flawless performance from the Bison to buck that trend. It’s not an entirely unthinkable outcome but the fact that it goes down in Brookings this year makes it all that much more difficult.
It will all get underway on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
Sac State Battles Montana on Saturday Night
Week 10 will wrap up with another dose of “Big Sky After Dark” when #4 Montana plays host to #7 Sacramento State under the lights in Missoula. The Grizzlies (7-1, 4-1 Big Sky) are looking to keep their hopes for a conference crown alive and well but the Hornets (6-2, 3-2 Big Sky) are fighting to remain in the seed conversation. UM is unbeaten at home this year but hasn’t taken down Sac State since 2018. Can the revenge-minded Griz win their fifth straight or will the Hornets sting Montana one more time?
Sacramento State may have some controversy at quarterback after usual-starter Kaiden Bennett was taken off last week in favor of freshman Carson Conklin. Conklin led a furious effort that lifted the Hornets over Idaho State, throwing for 235 yards and three scores. Bennett, while struggling in that game, has thrown for 12 scores this season and leads the team with 407 rush yards.
Montana, meanwhile, will have no questions surrounding that position. Clifton McDowell earned that job earlier this year and hasn’t relinquished it. The Griz have not lost with him as a starter this year. He’s thrown for 762 yards and six TDs.
Eli Gillman and Nick Ostmo have been the workhorses on the ground for UM this fall, combining for 944 rush yards and 11 touchdowns. McDowell can run it well too, but these two should see the bulk of the carries. Last week against Northern Colorado, Gillman eclipsed 100 yards and found the end zone twice.
The Hornets will also have offensive playmakers like All-Conference tight end Marshel Martin who has been making a bigger impact as of late after suffering an injury early in the season. Over the last three games, Martin has hauled in 14 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. He will look to have a big day against the Grizzlies defense that surrenders nearly 250 passing yards per game.
A few weeks back it didn’t look like this would be a Top 10 matchup but here we are. Montana has played a whole lot better as of late but Sac State really hasn’t gone away, despite the scare last week against ISU. Whoever wins on Saturday night will set themselves up nicely with two games remaining. Both teams can make a real case for a national seed and perhaps even a share of the conference title. The loser here, though, will be in jeopardy of having to play Thanksgiving weekend come playoff time.
The contest will start at 8:00 PM (ET) on ESPN+.
Other Week 10 FCS Games
THURSDAY - Mississippi Valley State @ Bethune-Cookman
FRIDAY - Princeton @ Dartmouth
SATURDAY - Campbell @ North Carolina, LIU @ St. Francis, Duquesne @ Wagner, Central Connecticut State @ Sacred Heart, Drake @ Marist, Yale @ Brown, Holy Cross @ Lehigh, Kennesaw State @ Sam Houston, Harvard @ Columbia, Colgate @ Lafayette, Bucknell @ Fordham, Cornell @ Penn, Davidson @ Stetson, San Diego @ Presbyterian, VMI @ East Tennessee State, Youngstown State @ Indiana State, Villanova @ New Hampshire, Towson @ North Carolina A&T, Stony Brook @ Monmouth, Hampton @ Maine, Gardner-Webb @ Bryant, Elon @ Delaware, Mercer @ The Citadel, Butler @ Morehead State, Florida A&M @ Alabama A&M, Dayton @ Valparaiso, Western Illinois @ Northern Iowa, Robert Morris @ Southeast Missouri State, North Dakota @ Murray State, South Dakota @ Southern Illinois, UT Martin @ Tennessee Tech, Northern Arizona @ Montana State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern @ Jackson State, Western Carolina @ Wofford, Utah Tech @ Abilene Christian, Southern @ Alcorn State, Illinois State @ Missouri State, Idaho @ Northern Colorado, Eastern Illinois @ Lindenwood, Lincoln (CA) @ Southern Utah, Merrimack @ UMass, Howard @ South Carolina State, Delaware State @ Morgan State, Norfolk State @ North Carolina Central, Tennessee State @ Charleston Southern, Texas A&M-Commerce @ Lamar, McNeese @ Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls @ Incarnate Word, Cal Poly @ Eastern Washington, Austin Peay @ Eastern Kentucky, Central Arkansas @ North Alabama, Grambling State vs. Alabama State (Mobile, AL), Weber State @ Idaho State, Portland State @ UC Davis, Stephen F. Austin @ Tarleton State
Houston Christian @ Northwestern State (CANCELED)