Wagner versus Campbell, we love you. Penn versus Sacred Heart, we’ll keep an eye out for you.
Yeah, but non-conference games don’t carry nearly the same weight as what’s taken over in the FCS — good ol’ fashioned conference and rivalry matchups. The raw emotion that comes with those games has risen with the schedule moving into October.
There are many of them, but here are the FCS games of the week:
Note: All times ET
Friday, Oct. 5
Dartmouth (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) at Yale (2-1, 1-0), 6 p.m.
A one-point loss at Dartmouth was the difference between Ivy League champion Yale finishing 10-0 instead of 9-1 last season. The Bulldogs felt they delivered a message against Maine last week and now they’re preparing one for a Big Green squad that is allowing the fewest yards per play in the FCS at 3.58.
Saturday, Oct. 6
Bryant (3-1, 1-0 Northeast) at Duquesne (3-2, 0-0), 1 p.m.
The host Dukes have ridden a wave of momentum back from their credible loss at Hawaii two weeks ago. They’ll need running back A.J. Hines to be back in the lineup (he’s expected to be there) to match points with Bryant, which believes the Price (Wilson) is right with the NEC’s leading quarterback.
No. 7 Elon (3-1, 1-0 CAA) at No. 2 James Madison (4-1, 2-0), 1:30 p.m.
James Madison is converting 52 percent of its third down attempts — second in the FCS — while Elon is allowing opponents to click at 47.4 percent, which is tied for 110th place and worst among teams with a winning record. The Phoenix don’t want to be giving Ben DiNucci and the Dukes extra opportunities.
Pick: James Madison
No. 1 North Dakota State (4-0, 1-0 Missouri Valley) at No. 16 Northern Iowa (2-2, 1-0), 2 p.m.
It might seem hard for the top-ranked Bison to get up emotionally following their big win over No. 3 South Dakota State last weekend, but UNI is their other Missouri Valley rival, so that won’t be a problem. What may be a problem is scoring on a Panthers defense that hasn’t allowed a point in nine straight quarters. UNI leads the tight series, 26-25.
Pick: North Dakota State
Stephen F. Austin (1-3, 1-2 Southland) vs. No. 25 Sam Houston State (2-2, 1-1) in Houston, 2 p.m.
The sluggish start by both teams has taken some luster off this matchup. Yeah, try telling that to these rivals as they meet in the 93rd annual “Battle of the Piney Woods.” The Bearkats’ seven-game winning streak in the series will increase if senior Davion Davis keeps making one-handed catches like this.
Pick: Sam Houston State
No. 6 Wofford (3-1, 2-0 Southern) at Chattanooga (4-1, 2-1), 3 p.m.
Ten of the 12 SoCon games have been decided by seven points or less, and this one feels like another down-to-the-wire thriller. That scenario has favored Wofford the last two seasons. The triple-option offense eats up yardage and their defense has the might to turn the Mocs one-dimensional with the pass.
No. 22 Missouri State (3-1, 1-0 Missouri Valley) at No. 21 South Dakota (2-2, 1-0), 3 p.m.
This is the kind of Missouri Valley game that determines an FCS playoff berth. Missouri State has beaten back-to-back Top 25 opponents for the first time since 1989 despite quarterback Peyton Huslig throwing six interceptions and only one touchdown. USD knows what to do with turnovers as it’s plus-five this year and plus-19 in head coach Bob Nielson’s three seasons.
Pick: South Dakota
No. 11 Stony Brook (4-1, 2-0 CAA) at No. 17 Towson (3-1, 1-0), 4 p.m.
Does Cris Carter line up at wide receiver for Stony Brook? All the Seawolves seem to do is win games. Towson has been one of the pleasures in the CAA, if not the FCS, but can the Tigers stop the rushing of Jordan Gowins and Donald Liotine?
No. 8 Jacksonville State (3-1, 2-0 Ohio Valley) at Eastern Kentucky (2-2, 1-0), 4 p.m.
Much-improved Eastern Kentucky has had two weeks of preparation for a Jacksonville State team that’s won 34 straight Ohio Valley Conference games, and would set the FCS all-time record if it sweeps through the 2018 schedule. Wonder if Gamecocks quarterback Zerrick Cooper would still look in a Clemson uniform?
Pick: Jacksonville State
Idaho (2-2, 1-1 Big Sky) at Idaho State (3-1, 1-0), 5:35 p.m.
Holt Arena — no make that the Gem State — will be buzzing over this first meeting in 10 years. Idaho holds a 28-11 series lead, but Idaho State won the last time they met as FCS programs in 1995. The host Bengals have been awful defensively in recent seasons, but new defensive coordinator Roger Cooper has them ranked No. 2 in total defense in the Big Sky.
Pick: Idaho State
— 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 Idaho State Athletics)