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FCS Football: Best Games and Predictions for Week 2



The first full week of the FCS season was reserved for teams taking on FBS programs, and four (Richmond, Northern Iowa, Eastern Washington and Albany) delivered wins.


Related: FCS Power Poll for Week 2

There are plenty more games between the two Division I levels this week, but excellent FCS intersectional matchups command the spotlight, with the biggest involving Big Sky and Missouri Valley teams.

Here are the FCS games of the week:

Note: All times ET

Saturday, Sept. 10

No. 18 Youngstown State (1-0) at West Virginia (1-0), 2 p.m.

The Mountaineers’ faithful may get Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini a bit feisty, but the Penguins need to play with composure and own a halftime lead to have a shot at an upset. They were excellent in all facets in a season-opening rout of Duquesne.

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Pick: West Virginia

No. 7 Eastern Washington (1-0) at No. 1 North Dakota State (1-0), 3:30 p.m.

On the way to winning the 2010 FCS national title, Eastern handed NDSU its only loss (38-31 in overtime in the quarterfinals) in the Bison’s FCS playoff history (a 22-1 record). The five-time reigning champs are probably glad they had an extra week to prepare for new Eagles quarterback Gage Gubrud and all-world wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

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Pick: North Dakota State

No. 21 Northern Arizona (0-1) at No. 17 Western Illinois (1-0), 4 p.m.

This is only the third-best of the Big Sky-Missouri Valley showdowns, but it’s terrific nevertheless. Quarterback Case Cookus is back on the road trying to keep NAU, the Big Sky’s preseason favorite, from an 0-2 start. WIU already owns a good win over Eastern Illinois behind running back Steve McShane.

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Pick: Western Illinois

No. 14 Montana (1-0) at No. 3 Northern Iowa (1-0), 5 p.m.

Montana has won the five previous meetings, including three in the playoffs. This one features one of the better QB matchups of the FCS season: Montana’s Brady Gustafson versus UNI’s Aaron Bailey.

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Pick: Montana

Saint Francis (0-1) at No. 19 Towson (0-1), 6 p.m.

These are two pretty good teams and one of them is going to be 0-2. Towson (and Oregon transfer) quarterback Morgan Mahalak, who completed just 44 percent of his passes in the loss at South Florida, needs to get it going against a solid SFU secondary that features free safety Lorenzo Jerome and already has faced Montana’s passing attack.

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Pick: Towson

No. 15 McNeese (1-0) at UL Lafayette (0-1), 7 p.m.

Here's an opportunity for first-year head coach Lance Guidry to make some waves. McNeese leads the series, 20-15-2, although this is the first meeting since 2007. The Cowboys have the kind of running game and defense to pull an upset.

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Pick: McNeese

Holy Cross (1-0) at New Hampshire (0-1), 7 p.m.

There’s buzz at UNH over Wildcat Stadium debuting under the lights. UNH’s 31-0 goose egg at San Diego State was one of the worst performances by a CAA Football team in opening week. Meanwhile, quarterback Peter Pujals led Holy Cross to the most impressive performance by a Patriot League team, a 27-point win at Morgan State.

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Pick: New Hampshire

Samford (1-0) at Central Arkansas (1-0), 7 p.m.

The winner here could move into next week’s FCS Top 25. Samford won at home 45-16 in last year’s meeting and Devlin Hodges wasn’t even the starting quarterback yet. There are impressive freshmen to watch in Samford wide receiver TaDarryl Marshall and UCA running back Carlos Blackman.

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Pick: Samford

Jackson State (0-1) at Tennessee State (1-0) in Memphis, 7 p.m.

The Southern Heritage Classic matches Tigers versus Tigers. TSU has won the last four meetings and 11 in the last 13 years. While the youth movement is paying off at Tennessee State, Jackson State has a veteran team that is hoping to give new head coach Tony Hughes his first win.

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Pick: Tennessee State

No. 5 Jacksonville State (1-0) at LSU (0-1), 7:30 p.m.

It’s tough enough to play in Death Valley, but Jacksonville State has to do so with LSU coming off a loss. The Gamecocks have only lost to FBS teams (Michigan State in 2014, Auburn in '15) in the last two regular seasons. They have some SEC transfers on their roster, just not enough of them.

College Football Top 25: LSU
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Pick: LSU

— 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 He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.

(Top photo by North Dakota State Athletics)