Football

Handicapping the First Round

Handicapping the First Round

The FCS playoffs are here, the best tournament in the country after the NCAA men’s basketball tourney. NDSU gets a first round bye by virtue of its No. 1 seed and will play the winner of Cal Poly and the University of San Diego on Dec. 3. But there will be eight games this weekend and this is how I see them play out:

  • San Diego at Cal Poly: San Diego is a member of the non-scholarship Pioneer League and it’s going to take an upset of unforeseen circumstances for a Pioneer team to advance past the first round, especially gets a team from one of the power leagues like the Big Sky Conference. The Mustangs had 354 yards rushing in the regular season matchup of these teams (a 38-16 Poly win) and more of the same will be in store on Saturday. Cal Poly 34, San Diego 10
  • Saint Francis at Villanova: The Red Flash were respectable in the opener losing 41-31 at Montana, although the way the Griz’s season has gone has lessened that factor. Best win for the Northeastern Conference champs was 38-17 over Sacred Heart, which routed Stony Brook of the CAA this season. Villanova will win easy heading to South Dakota State. Villanova 41, Saint Francis 14
  • Weber State at Chattanooga: One of the more intriguing matchups. Weber is a veteran team with many players on the team two years ago when NDSU played the Wildcats. The Mocs, however, lost three of their last five although the last one was Alabama. Still, I’m not convinced their on the up. Weber 24, Chattanooga 21
  • Lehigh at New Hampshire: I’m not sure what to make of UNH, which lost to Dartmouth of the Ivy League, gave James Madison all it can handle in a 42-39 loss and routed Stony Brook. The fact the Wildcats play at home is probably good enough here. New Hampshire 28, Lehigh 21
  • Samford at Youngstown. Samford shouldn’t even be in the tournament, let’s just get it straight. Albany had a better resume with seven Division I wins including an FBS over Buffalo. Samford had six Division I wins and lost to East Tennesee to close the season. I think Youngstown will be the surprise of the field and will give Jacksonville State everything it can handle in the second round. Youngstown 24, Samford 6
  • Charleston Southern at Wofford: It was a drama-filled year for the Mocs, with suspensions following the overtime loss at NDSU to open the season. Then they lose at home to Gardner-Webb late in the season. Wofford is better than people think, beat Chattanooga and lost to Citadel in overtime. I’m taking the more steady team. Wofford 28, CSU 17
  • North Carolina A&T at Richmond. The big story in the FCS is the loss of Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta, which William & Mary capitalized to win easy in the regular season final. Lauletta is a serious candidate for the CAA Offensive Player of the Year so that tells you of his importance. The slide continues for the Spiders, I’m taking A&T, which has an FBS win over Kent State, in the upset. Merry Christmas UND, which is living life right this season with the schedule. North Carolina A&T 21, Richmond 17
  • Illinois State at Central Arkansas: I watched UCA last week against Sam Houston and was not impressed. The Redbirds are playing well, had a week off on the last regular season weekend and are rested and ready. Illinois State 24, Central Arkansas 20

 

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