Jax State-Chattanooga, FBS matchups highlight Week 1 in FCS
No, FCS teams don't beat FBS programs by catching them off-guard. They go out and earn deserving wins. Sometimes they're upsets, and sometimes they're actually not.
So FBS teams are well aware of what to expect from the FCS. And while it's doubtful the FCS will beat the FBS 16 times as it did with a record-setting total in 2013, in this year's 107 matchups, the eight wins of a year ago certainly seem reasonable.
Any time it happens, though, it pulsates the lower half of Division I college football.
On the first full weekend of the season, 48 FCS teams will take their best shot at an alleged big brother, including 11 schools in the STATS FCS Top 25.
As if you couldn't tell from last weekend's Kickoff thriller, anticipation is high for the season ahead.
FCS GAME OF THE WEEK=
The Matchup: No. 7 Jacksonville State at No. 8 Chattanooga
The Time: Saturday, 6 p.m. Eastern
The Series: Chattanooga leads, 26-12 (most recent meeting: Jacksonville State won, 26-23, in OT at Chattanooga)
The Skinny: Jacksonville State is 7-2 against Chattanooga since their series resumed in 2004. Chattanooga nearly won last year's game, scoring on a punt return on the final play of regulation, only to have the play nullified by a penalty. JSU then beat the Mocs in overtime. While Chattanooga handles itself quite well in the trenches, Jacksonville State, the defending Ohio Valley champion, has a trio of linemen on each side of the ball who earned all-conference preseason honors. The D-line is SEC-esque (6-foot-3, 286-pound average) with tackle Devaunte Sigler and ends LaMichael Fanning and Chris Landrum expected to get after Mocs All-America quarterback Jacob Huesman. The Gamecocks will use its deep run game (QB Eli Jenkins and RBs Troymaine Pope, Mile Jones and Josh Clemons) to set up the pass. QB Christian LeMay is effective coming off the bench in the explosive offense. Some transfers and players returning from injury will help defending Southern Conference champ Chattanooga overcome some key losses. But the Mocs go as Huesman goes. The two-time SoCon offensive player of the year is a true dual-threat with over 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in his career. On defense, a shutdown secondary is among the best in the FCS, with free safety Lucas Webb coming off a six-interception season. Junior Henrique Ribeiro can be a difference maker as he's 19-for-25 on career field goals.
The Prediction: This splendid opener feels as though it could be decided late again. Jacksonville State has one of its deeper squads, and that may pay off in the early September heat. Jacksonville State, 24-22.
WEEK 1 PICKS=
Last Week's Record: 0-1 (.000)
Last Season's Record: 645-193 (.770)
(All times Eastern, X-Predicted winner)
THURSDAY, SEPT. 3=
Pikeville at X-Campbell, 7 p.m.
X-No. 19 Southeastern Louisiana at Northwestern State, 7 p.m. - With the Southland moving to a nine-game conference schedule, this is the first season opener between two of its conference teams since 1992.
X-No. 4 Villanova at Connecticut, 7:30 p.m. - Beating an FBS opponent - although a former conference rival which Villanova leads, 7-4, in the series - would be a great way for Wildcats QB John Robertson to take aim on a second consecutive national offensive player of the year award.
Fort Lewis at X-No. 11 Montana State, 9:05 p.m. - The Bobcats might outscore Fort Lewis coach John L. Smith's age (66). Somehow the visiting Skyhawks beat Division II national champion Colorado State-Pueblo yet finished 3-8 last year.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 4=
SATURDAY, SEPT. 5=
Georgetown at X-Saint Francis (Pa.), noon
No. 14 Youngstown State at X-Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. - Penguins coach Bo Pelini only has one chance to make a first impression.
Presbyterian at X-Miami (Ohio), 3:30 p.m.
Savannah State at X-Colorado State, 4 p.m.
Southern Illinois at X-Indiana, 4 p.m.
X-No. 7 Jacksonville State at No. 8 Chattanooga, 6 p.m. - The FCS game of the week.
Bethune-Cookman at X-Miami (Fla.), 6 p.m.
St. Augustine's at X-North Carolina Central, 6 p.m.
Black Hills State at X-No. 22 Idaho State, 6:05 p.m. - Junior college transfer Michael Sanders gets to throw to a group of returning wide receivers and tight ends who have combined on 469 receptions, 5,614 receiving yards and 43 touchdown catches in their career.
Southern at X-Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m.
Bethany (W.V.) at X-Houston Baptist, 8 p.m.
No. 10 Northern Iowa at X-Iowa State, 8 p.m. - UNI beat the Cyclones to begin the 2013 season and lost by only one point in their 2011 opener.
Bacone at X-Lamar, 8 p.m.
Cal Poly at X-No. 13 Montana (1-0), 9 p.m. - Bob Stitt relished opening his Montana career against four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. Facing a triple option a week later, not so much.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 6=
Alabama State at X-Tennessee State, 7 p.m.