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FCS Football: Predictions and Best Games for Week 12

FCS Football: Predictions and Best Games for Week 12

FCS Football: Predictions and Best Games for Week 12

Which FCS games are meaningful this week, you ask? Which ones aren’t meaningful would be the shorter answer.

FCS

The Week 12 schedule shapes up perfectly with conference titles and postseason bids on the line and rivalry matchups bringing the intensity even higher. Oh yes, FCS teams will try to take down the FBS again.

Here are this week’s FCS games of the week:

Note: All times ET

Thursday, Nov. 15

Southeastern Louisiana (4-6, 4-4 Southland) at No. 17 Nicholls (7-3, 6-2), 7 p.m.

Southeastern Louisiana has captured the last two River Bell Classics, but Nicholls is home, on a three-game winning streak and has too much to gain with a win — a share of the Southland Conference title and an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs, whose 24-team field will be announced Sunday.

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Pick: Nicholls

Saturday, Nov. 17

The Citadel (4-5) at Alabama (10-0), noon

It turns out ‘Bama wanted The Citadel, so it scheduled the Southern Conference military academy. Quarterback Brandon Rainey is coming off two big performances running the Bulldogs’ triple-option offense. Yeah, well, the visitors get rolled out of Tuscaloosa.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Alabama
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Pick: Alabama

No. 16 Elon (6-3, 4-2 CAA) at No. 8 Maine (7-3, 6-1), noon

Elon has to shake off getting blown out at home against Towson to win in the cold of Orono and secure a playoff spot. Maine owns a share of the CAA crown, but wants to be the only one to wear it. The Black Bears’ quarterback, Chris Ferguson, reinjured his throwing shoulder a week ago.

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Pick: Maine

Yale (5-4, 3-3 Ivy) vs. Harvard (5-4, 3-3), noon (Fenway Park)

Shhh! Ending the season with “The Game” is surely one of the reasons the Ivy League presidents don’t send the champion to the playoffs, even though everybody else in the free world wants it. Yale brings a 67-59-8 all-time leading into the 135th meeting at Fenway Park.

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Pick: Harvard

Duquesne (7-3, 4-1 Northeast) at Central Connecticut State (6-4, 4-1), noon

Both teams are peeking, and nobody is hotter than Duquesne running back A.J. Hines with four straight games 200-plus yards from scrimmage. The visiting Dukes claim the NEC’s automatic bid with a win; defending champ CCSU is in only with a win and a Sacred Heart loss to Saint Francis.

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Pick: Central Connecticut State

No. 6 Colgate (9-0) at Army West Point (8-2), noon

Why not dream big since Colgate’s defense gives up so little? The Raiders’ stingy defense, which allows a mere 3.2 points per game, faces an Army offense that ranks second in the FBS with 307.2 rushing yards per game.

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Pick: Colgate

Samford (5-5, 4-3 Southern) at No. 18 ETSU (8-2, 6-1), 1 p.m.

Surprising ETSU has had two weeks of preparation before going for an outright Southern Conference title. No preparation was necessary to know Samford’s game plan: a Devlin Hodges pass here, a Devlin Hodges pass there, Devlin Hodges passes everywhere. He is 316 passing yards shy of the FCS career record of 14,496 set by Alcorn State’s Steve McNair from 1991-94.

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Pick: ETSU

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No. 21 Montana State (6-4, 4-3 Big Sky) at Montana (6-4, 4-3), 2 p.m.

It’s a Treasure State treasure. Bragging rights — OK, make that the most trash talking — is on the line in the “Brawl of the Wild.” This year, the winner of the 118th meeting (Montana leads 76-39-5 all-time) also hopes its resume is playoff-worthy.

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Pick: Montana

No. 7 James Madison (7-3, 5-2 CAA) at No. 15 Towson (7-3, 5-2), 2 p.m.

Social media could get entertaining Saturday night if James Madison - the 2016 FCS champion and 2017 national runner-up - falls and is sweating out an at-large bid. The truth is, CAA teams deserve in after a brutal fight to the finish. A record six bids from the CAA is possible.

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Pick: Towson

Richmond (3-7, 1-6 CAA) at William & Mary (4-5, 3-3), 2 p.m.

Only three other FCS series predate the “Oldest Rivalry in the South,” whose winner claims the Capital Cup. This year’s 129th meeting (William & Mary leads 62-61-5) is all about retiring William & Mary head coach Jimmye Laycock, who seeks career win 250 in his final game.
Pick: William & Mary

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Florida A&M (6-4, 5-1 MEAC) vs. Bethune-Cookman (6-5, 4-2), 2 p.m. (Orlando, Fla.)

The Florida Classic looked a lot different before Halloween because Florida A&M has been backing its way toward the MEAC title and a possible spot in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. To get back on track, the Rattlers have to slow down Bethune’s Jimmie Robinson, who has seven touchdowns of at least 50 yards plus a 98-yard two-point return.

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Pick: Bethune-Cookman

No. 19 North Carolina A&T (8-2, 5-1 MEAC) at North Carolina Central (4-5, 2-3), 2 p.m.

If Florida A&M completely falls apart, North Carolina A&T can return to the Celebration Bowl for the third time in four years. A spot in the playoffs doesn’t sound so bad either to first-year head coach Sam Washington. Either way, the Aggies need a win over archrival North Carolina Central.

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Pick: North Carolina A&T

No. 24 Indiana State (6-4, 4-3 Missouri Valley) at Western Illinois (5-5, 4-3), 2 p.m.

The MVFC has had 19 playoff qualifiers in the last four years, but only two teams will have at least seven Division I wins, which is preferred by the playoff selection committee. The winner here hopes to get in with six (one of Indiana State’s wins is against Division II Quincy).

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Pick: Western Illinois

No. 10 Jacksonville State (8-2) vs. No. 2 Kennesaw State (9-1), 3 p.m. (Atlanta)

Kennesaw didn’t attract ESPN’s “College GameDay” to the first college football game at SunTrust Park, but it’s a huge game nevertheless — the Big South and Ohio Valley Conference champs squaring off. In their first meeting last December, the Owls bounced third-seeded Jacksonville State from the playoffs.

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Pick: Kennesaw State

Jackson State (5-4, 4-2 SWAC) at Alcorn State (7-3, 5-1), 3 p.m.

Alcorn has been the SWAC’s best team this season, but Jackson State is 2-0 under interim head coach John Hendrick and would steal away the East Division title with an upset. The Braves will host the conference championship game if it qualifies for a fifth straight year.

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Pick: Alcorn State

Last Week’s Record: 5-5 (.500)

Season Record: 77-41 (.653)

— 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 of Jacksonville State Athletics)