FCS games provide relief to flood-devastated South Carolina
(STATS) - It may not be heard often, but college football teams in South Carolina are rooting for each other this week.
Football, though, hasn't felt so important in a state where people usually are passionate about it. Their focus has been on the flooding which followed the effects of Hurricane Joaquin last weekend.
While the hurricane missed the East Coast, it created significant rain in South Carolina, which led to the massive floods - the worst coming on the coastal areas in the lower portion of the state. As dams failed, the water felt relentless: many homes and businesses were devastated, power went out, evacuations and rescues were needed, drinking water was made unsafe and the death toll rose to at least 17 in the state, with several more in North Carolina.
The University of South Carolina even moved Saturday's game against LSU to Baton Rouge.
"Our thoughts and prayers right now are with everyone across the state of South Carolina that's been affected by extreme flooding," said The Citadel coach Mike Houston, whose school is located in hard-hit Charleston. The Bulldogs were on a bye last weekend and had players unable to get back to campus immediately after the storm.
"Obviously, some places are much worse than others and there's some families that are still facing some very, very tough circumstances and have had some pretty extreme tragedy. That kind of puts everything into perspective."
There are seven FCS programs in South Carolina - Furman (Greenville), Wofford (Spartanburg) and The Citadel (Charleston) in the Southern Conference, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina (Conway), Presbyterian (Clinton) in the Big South Conference, and South Carolina State (Orangeburg) in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Gardner-Webb basically borders in North Carolina and Savannah State is located along the Georgia border.
While the many annual conference and non-conference rivalries can divide teams in the state, it's a relatively close-knit group fueled by Palmetto State pride. Only three states have more FCS teams than South Carolina (New York, Pennsylvania and Texas with eight each; North Carolina and Virginia also have seven each).
"It's a pretty tough time here in our state and some neighboring states because they've experienced some of the same kinds of conditions and circumstances," said South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough, whose team's situation was complicated by a short week of preparation leading into a Thursday night game.
"We've got a lot of families in shelters and that kind of stuff. We've got guys on our football team that have homes back at home that are under water or have families who are experiencing different kinds of difficulties because of the floods. ... This football deal is a pretty unforgiving kind of thing. You like to stop and go home and kind of help your family, but you can't."
Of course, sports can provide an outlet for people, even amid deadly circumstances, so once the games resume, they can be therapeutic.
People at the FCS schools in South Carolina are counting on that this week.
"Our state's been hit pretty bad, especially the Columbia area on down here. We've been out of school (Monday and Tuesday)," Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell said. "We're starting the recovery now. It stopped raining late (Monday) night.
"People are trying to put their lives back together. Fortunately, we had a lot of people down here to hang out and see if they could help and try to get people back into some type of normal routine."
FCS GAME OF THE WEEK=
Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota (ESPN3)
Series: Northern Iowa leads 26-21 (most recent meeting: UNI won 23-3 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, last season)
The Skinny: UNI handed North Dakota State its only loss last season and stopped the Bison's FCS-record 33-game winning streak as they were on their way to winning a fourth straight national title.
The visiting Panthers, who have played one of the hardest FCS schedules, have the ability to match NDSU in the trenches, where the Bison often hold an advantage. QB Aaron Bailey struggled to get the run game going against Illinois State last Saturday and must have a quick release on drop-backs, although Sawyer Kollmorgen will be used off the bench. UNI has managed only one field goal in the third quarter, and coming out of halftime has long been a big quarter for the Bison. While the Panthers defense has plenty of terrific players, including versatile CB Deiondre' Hall, it has to reach a higher level.
The Bison come in seeking revenge for last year's pounding at UNI. With sacks included and NG Nate Tanguay plugging the middle, NDSU has allowed minus-eight rushing yards in its last nine quarters, bringing the ferocity of recent Bison defenses. The offense leads the FCS in average time of possession (37:49) despite having fumble issues (12 overall, six lost). QB Carson Wentz has been efficient with 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions, but the Bison want to use the run to set up the pass.
Prediction: On Homecoming Day, the Bison weren't afraid to pick a difficult opponent. Being bold is made easier by a 25-game winning streak inside the Fargodome. North Dakota State, 20-13.
ALL THE PICKS=
Last Week's Record: 47-10 (.825)
Overall Record: 293-54 (.844)
(All Times ET; X-Predicted Winner)
THURSDAY, OCT. 8
Tennessee Tech (2-3, 1-1 OVC) vs. X-No. 17 Eastern Kentucky (2-2, 1-0) at Georgetown College, 7 p.m. - With Tennessee Tech last in the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing defense, EKU will go with a heavy dose of running backs Dy'Shawn Mobley and Ethan Thomas.
X-South Carolina State (2-2, 1-0 MEAC) at Bethune-Cookman (4-1, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, OCT. 10
Monmouth (2-3, 0-0 Big South) at X-Charleston Southern (3-1, 0-0), noon
William & Mary (2-2, 1-1 CAA) at X-No. 14 Villanova (2-2, 1-0), noon - 'Nova has a 16-day buildup following its loss to Penn. New QB Zach Bednarczyk faces an even tougher assignment in a Tribe defense that leads CAA Football in points allowed.
Furman (3-2, 1-0 Southern) at X-No. 6 Chattanooga (3-1, 1-0), 1 p.m. Upset alert: Chattanooga has its highest ranking ever, but Furman has only lost to Coastal Carolina by a field goal and Virginia Tech. As if facing Jacob Huesman isn't enough, the Paladins also have to play on the road against Samford, Western Carolina and Wofford.
X-No. 13 Fordham (4-1) at Penn (1-2), 1 p.m. - Coming off a career-high rushing total (234) against Lafayette, Fordham All-American Chase Edmonds has 2,492 rushing yards and 3,364 all-purpose yards in only 19 career games.
X-Samford (2-2, 0-1 Southern) at VMI (1-4, 0-1), 1:30 p.m.
X-Wofford (3-2, 1-0 Southern) at The Citadel (2-2, 1-0), 2 p.m.
Presbyterian (1-4, 0-0 Big South) at X-No. 2 Coastal Carolina (5-0, 0-0), 2 p.m. - Coastal running back De'Angelo Henderson needs a touchdown to tie the FCS record for the most consecutive games with at least one (set by Monmouth's David Sinisi at 20 in 2006-07). If Henderson ties the mark, he will try to surpass it in the Chanticleers' next game on Oct. 24 at - drum roll, please - Monmouth.
X-Lafayette (1-4, 0-1 Patriot) at Georgetown (2-3, 0-0), 2 p.m.
No. 10 Northern Iowa (2-2, 0-1 Missouri Valley) at X-No. 3 North Dakota State (3-1, 1-0), 2 p.m. - The FCS Game of the Week.
X-No. 5 James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA) at Towson (2-2, 0-1), 3 p.m. - Do you think Towson coach Rob Ambrose has reminded his team about last year's 62-7 JMU win? It's not just QB Vad Lee this season as Dukes running backs Khalid Abdullah and Cardon Johnson have combined to score 15 touchdowns.
Elon (2-3, 1-1 CAA) at X-No. 16 Richmond (3-1, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. - On a team with the fewest returning starters in the CAA, redshirt sophomore quarterback Kyle Lauletta has stepped into the Spiders' lineup and provided both consistency and production.
Mercer (2-2, 0-1 Southern) at X-Western Carolina (2-2, 0-1), 3:30 p.m.
Weber State (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) at X-No. 12 Montana (3-2, 2-0), 4 p.m. - The Griz have found a run game in Big Sky play and they still can go at a fast pace. They ran a season-high 97 plays against UC Davis.
Savannah State (1-3, 1-1 MEAC) at X-Morgan State (3-2, 2-0), 4 p.m.
Cal Poly (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) at X-No. 7 Eastern Washington (2-2, 1-0), 4:05 p.m. - Speed limit, beware: Cal Poly leads the FCS in rushing yards per game (363.8) and Eastern Washington is No. 1 in passing yards per game (466.3), and their defenses are the two worst in the Big Sky in yards allowed per game.
No. 25 Portland State (3-1) at X-North Texas (0-4), 5 p.m. The Vikings have the rare opportunity to beat two FBS programs in the same season. They have yet to give up 20 points in a game and North Texas is averaging only 16.8.
X-Wagner (0-4) at Columbia (0-3), 6 p.m.
X-Southern (2-2, 2-0 SWAC) at Alabama State (2-3, 2-2), 7 p.m.
X-No. 15 Liberty (3-2, 0-0 Big South) at Gardner-Webb (1-3, 0-0), 7 p.m. - Even though they earned their first FCS playoff bid last season, the visiting Flames are beginning the chase for a fourth straight Big South title. The Gardner-Webb defense offers a challenge, though.
No. 20 Southeastern Louisiana (3-1, 2-0 Southland) at X-No. 22 McNeese State (4-0, 3-0), 7 p.m. - At No. 22, the Cowboys may be underrated, but this game will provide a better indication than their first four contests. Southeastern has won the last three meetings.
Incarnate Word (3-2, 2-1 Southland) at X-No. 11 Sam Houston State (2-2, 2-1), 7 p.m. - Sophomore slump? After totaling 29 tackles for loss as a freshman last year, Bearkats defensive end P.J. Hall has only one coming on a sack. He's facing more double-teams and the season-ending injury of opposite end Mouf Adebo are factors.
No. 19 Indiana State (3-1, 1-0 Missouri Valley) at X-No. 8 South Dakota State (3-1, 0-1), 7 p.m. - Indiana State linebacker Kendall Walker had 10 tackles in the first quarter alone last week. It's time to chase a Jackrabbit or two.
X-Northern Arizona (3-2, 1-1 Big Sky) at UC Davis (0-5, 0-2), 7 p.m.
X-No. 4 Illinois State (3-1, 1-0 Missouri Valley) at No. 9 Youngstown State (3-1, 1-0), 7 p.m. - The Penguins have not allowed a touchdown in the last two games, but let's see if they can keep Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich out of the end zone. He has 34 TDs since the start of the 2014 season.
Sacramento State (1-4, 0-2 Big Sky) at X-No. 18 Montana State (2-2, 1-1), 7:05 p.m. - MSU's 59-56 win over Sac State last year wasn't even the highest-scoring game in the series this decade. The Bobcats also won 64-61 in overtime in 2010.