Like any Election Day week, there is plenty of change coming in the FCS conference races this week.
Some teams will clinch titles and/or FCS playoff spots, others will get the boot from either scenario.
The stretch run of the regular season is for playing hard ball, and there is a lot of it going on across the FCS.
Here are the Week 11 games of the week:
Note: All times ET
Saturday, Nov. 11
Central Connecticut State (6-3, 4-0 Northeast) at Duquesne (7-2, 4-0), noon
The winner clinches the automatic playoff bid in the Northeast Conference. A healthier A.J. Hines is back running strong for Duquesne, while quarterback Tommy Stuart might be the conference’s offensive player of the year. During CCSU’s six-game winning streak, running backs Cameron Nash and Drew Jean-Guillaume have combined for 19 touchdowns.
Colgate (5-4, 3-1 Patriot) at Lafayette (3-6, 3-1), 12:30 p.m.
The visiting Raiders have allowed only 22 points during a three-game winning streak in the Patriot League, but, unlike Lafayette, don’t control their destiny for the league’s automatic playoff bid. The matchup features freshman quarterbacks, Colgate’s Grant Breneman versus Lafayette’s Sean O’Malley.
Yale (7-1, 4-1 Ivy) at Princeton (5-3, 2-3), 1 p.m.
Only Lafayette and Lehigh have met more times than these Ancient Eight rivals, whose series turns 140 (Yale leads 76-53-10). Princeton’s three Ivy League losses are by a combined eight points, so the Tigers, behind quarterback Chad Kanoff and a solid run defense, pose a serious threat to the first-place Bulldogs. But the Dawgs can see the finish line and will clinch at least a share of the title with a win.
No. 7 Elon (8-1, 6-0 CAA) at No. 25 New Hampshire (6-3, 4-2), 2 p.m.
It’s been a magical season for the visiting Phoenix, who were picked to finish 11th in the CAA Football preseason poll. While they’re 4-0 against ranked teams, it’s the wrong time to be facing a UNH team that likely needs to win out to reach the playoffs for the 14th straight season. Wildcats quarterback Trevor Knight is coming off a 406-yard, four-touchdown passing game against William & Mary.
Pick: New Hampshire
No. 23 Eastern Washington (5-4, 4-2 Big Sky) at North Dakota (3-7, 2-5), 2 p.m.
The visiting Eagles are reeling from a two-game losing streak and the suspension of star quarterback Gage Gubrud for this must-win matchup. The UND defense — well, if there’s any shred of defense in this matchup — will come after redshirt freshman Eric Barriere in his first start. While nothing can change the Fighting Hawks’ disappointing season, this is a chance for them to also keep last year’s fellow co-Big Sky champion on the postseason sideline.
Pick: North Dakota
No. 19 Illinois State (6-3, 4-2 Missouri Valley) at No. 6 South Dakota State (7-2, 4-2), 3 p.m.
Coming off a dominating victory over North Dakota State, the host Jackrabbits have the late-season schedule to shoot up to a high seed in the playoffs. Their defense seeks to maintain its recent higher level of play to back quarterback Taryn Christion, who has accounted for 12 touchdowns during a three-game winning streak.
Pick: South Dakota State
No. 2 Jacksonville State (8-1, 6-0 Ohio Valley) at UT Martin (5-4, 3-3), 3 p.m.
This was supposed to be the game that could end Jacksonville State’s dominance in the Ohio Valley Conference (a record 30-game winning streak), but UT Martin freshman quarterback Dresser Winn probably isn’t seasoned enough to solve the Gamecocks’ defense. Last week, Darius Jackson, Jonathan Hagler and the defense limited Murray State rushers to negative rushing yards (-3 on 28 carries).
Pick: Jacksonville State
No. 22 Richmond (5-4, 3-3 CAA) at No. 1 James Madison (9-0, 6-0), 3:30 p.m.
Richmond surely has to end the defending FCS champ’s 21-game winning streak to remain alive for an at-large bid. James Madison’s secondary has been lethal this season, but Spiders quarterback Kyle Lauletta will be in attack mode. This could be end-to-end action, but JMU will want to get physical with its run game.
Pick: James Madison
Charleston Southern (5-4, 2-1 Big South) at No. 24 Kennesaw State (8-1, 3-0), 3:30 p.m.
The only Big South program Kennesaw has yet to defeat is Charleston Southern, so the Owls’ eight-game winning streak has built up to this opportunity. Quarterback Chandler Burks is directing the FCS' top-ranked rushing attack (331.2 ypg), coming off 34 carries and 149 yards against Montana State. Bucs defensive end Anthony Ellis is the most ferocious defender the Owls have faced all season.
Pick: Kennesaw State
No. 10 South Dakota (7-2, 4-2 Missouri Valley) at No. 3 North Dakota State (8-1, 5-1), 3:30 p.m.
The Bison remain in first place in the Valley despite falling to South Dakota State last week, and they have won their last 14 games when coming off a loss. USD quarterback Chris Streveler is the type of dual threat who can trouble the Bison defense (see South Dakota State’s Taryn Christion), which usually doesn’t have two straight subpar performances.
Pick: North Dakota State
No. 9 Southern Utah (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky) at UC Davis (5-4, 3-3), 7 p.m.
In the pass-happy Big Sky, UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier and Keelan Doss are the surprise passing and receiving leaders, respectively. Southern Utah will seek to keep them off the field with James Felila running the ball.
Pick: Southern Utah
Last Week’s Record: 5-6 (.455)
Season Record: 72-34 (.679)
— 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 Richmond Athletics)