When the clocks are turned back Saturday night, some FCS teams are going to wish the same for their season.
November crowns champions, but it also turns contenders into pretenders.
This week’s games will play a big part in that. The FCS regular season is down to its final three full weeks, with the 24-team playoff pairings to be announced on Nov. 19.
Here are the Week 10 games of the week:
Note: All times ET
Saturday, Nov. 4
No. 25 Richmond (4-4, 2-3 CAA) at Villanova (4-4, 2-3), 1 p.m.
The storyline is this game is basically an eliminator for FCS playoff contention. Villanova’s 31-0 win over Maine on Oct. 7 looks all the more impressive considering its many injuries this season. Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta provides the advantage over the Wildcats’ young dual-threat quarterback, Kyle McCloskey.
North Carolina Central (6-2, 4-1 MEAC) at Hampton (5-3, 4-1), 1 p.m.
The Eagles face a tough schedule of November games, but a sweep will send them back to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. They’ve been getting strong play at linebacker, including from Reggie Hunter and Kenneth “Tank” O’Neal.
Pick: North Carolina Central
No. 14 Western Illinois (5-3, 2-3 Missouri Valley) at No. 13 Illinois State (6-2, 4-1), 1 p.m.
These two Illinois rivals, who first met in 1904, are squaring off for the 100th time. The host Redbirds have won the last seven meetings, but trail 50-46-3 in the all-time series.
Pick: Illinois State
No. 4 South Dakota (7-1, 4-1 Missouri Valley) at No. 19 Northern Iowa (4-4, 3-2), 2 p.m.
Considering it finishes the regular season against Missouri State and Indiana State (a combined 2-14), this is UNI’s pivotal remaining game for a playoff bid. Quarterback Chris Streveler (shoulder) hopes to get back on track after being knocked out of South Dakota’s game last Saturday.
Pick: South Dakota
Kennesaw State (7-1) at Montana State (4-4), 2 p.m.
If there’s going to be a non-conference game at this time of the season, it might as well be this good. Kennesaw State, which is unbeaten since falling 28-23 to Samford on opening night, is leading the FCS in rushing yards per game (329.4). The role of Montana State two-way freshman Troy Andersen is increasing on both sides of the ball as a running back and a linebacker.
Pick: Montana State
No. 21 Western Carolina (6-3, 4-2 Southern) at The Citadel (5-3, 3-3), 2 p.m.
With 405 and 407 rushing yards in its last two games, The Citadel’s triple-option offense is looking like its old self, which isn’t good news for a Western Carolina defense that’s vulnerable to the run. The Catamounts need a healthy Tyrie Adams running their offense.
Pick: The Citadel
No. 2 North Dakota State (8-0, 5-0 Missouri Valley) at No. 7 South Dakota State (6-2, 3-2), 3 p.m.
SDSU holds the Dakota Marker trophy (hey, let one of the linemen carry it – it’s 75 pounds), although NDSU avenged last season’s regular-season loss in the playoffs. The Bison defense hasn’t given up much, but Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion is quick enough to step away from the pressure.
Pick: North Dakota State
Alabama A&M (3-5, 3-2 SWAC) at Alcorn State (5-3, 3-1), 3 p.m.
By kickoff, Alcorn State will have had two weeks to shake away the cobwebs from its 41-14 loss to Grambling State. A win by quarterback Lenorris Footman and Co. will put the Braves on the verge of an East Division title and going to the SWAC Championship Game for the fourth straight season.
Pick: Alcorn State
No. 15 Weber State (6-2, 4-1 Big Sky) at No. 12 Eastern Washington (5-3, 4-1), 4:05 p.m.
Eastern Washington and quarterback Gage Gubrud must have enjoyed last week’s bye to figure out the best defense in the Big Sky. Weber State has NFL talents in tight end Andrew Vollert and cornerback Taron Johnson.
Pick: Eastern Washington
Drake (5-3, 4-1 Pioneer) at San Diego (6-2, 5-0), 5 p.m.
Toreros quarterback Anthony Lawrence has thrown 595 pass attempts over the last two seasons yet been sacked only eight times. The terrific protection has allowed him to deliver 21 touchdown passes against only one interception this season.
Pick: San Diego
No. 10 Northern Arizona (6-2, 5-0 Big Sky) at Montana (5-3, 3-2), 5:30 p.m.
After a subpar game, NAU quarterback Case Cookus bounced back with 35 completions and 407 passing yards without trusted receiver Elijah Marks (freshman Chance Brewington stepped up his play). If the Griz don’t commit five turnovers, they’ll have a shot against the Big Sky leader.
Last Week’s Record: 7-4 (.636)
Season Record: 67-28 (.705)
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
(Photo courtesy Eastern Washington University Athletics)