If an FCS team is trying to dress up for the FCS postseason, there are only two costumes — contender and pretender.
Michael Myers can carve out the not-so-worthy, but on Saturday some of the teams will drop themselves from contention even before Halloween arrives next week. The games are meaningful and, for some, merciful.
Here are this week’s FCS games of the week:
Note: All times ET
Saturday, Oct. 27
Georgetown (4-4, 3-0 Patriot) at No. 13 Colgate (6-0, 3-0), noon
Five years into the move to football scholarships across the Patriot League, the lone holdout on awarding them, Georgetown, is playing for sole possession of first place. The Hoyas don’t score a lot of points — going above 23 only once — and Colgate doesn’t give up much in allowing an FCS-low 3.8 per game. This is the unbeaten Raiders’ final home game.
No. 4 South Dakota State (4-2, 2-2 Missouri Valley) at No. 12 Illinois State (5-2, 2-2), 1 p.m.
Yikes, the losing team will slip below .500 in the Valley. With South Dakota State leading rusher Isaac Wallace out for the season due to a leg injury, quarterback Taryn Christion is going to face extra pressure from opposing defenses. Illinois State, still smarting from a conference loss to No. 1 North Dakota State, is 4-0 at home.
Pick: South Dakota State
Bryant (5-2, 2-1 Northeast) at Sacred Heart (4-3, 2-0), 1 p.m.
A sweet 16 different Sacred Heart players have scored touchdowns this season. The Pioneers are the only current NEC team to have two FCS playoff appearance — both under head coach Mark Nofri — while Bryant is the only team without one. This is a must-win game for both teams.
Pick: Sacred Heart
Mercer (4-3, 3-1 Southern) at No. 10 Wofford (5-2, 4-1), 1:30 p.m.
With three weeks in between SoCon games, Mercer may have been overlooked in the wacky title race. But the Bears returned to the schedule with their all-time highest point total (59) against Western Carolina and now seeks to solve Wofford’s stout defense. The defending champion Terriers have won all four meetings since Mercer joined the conference.
No. 6 Weber State (5-2, 3-1 Big Sky) at No. 15 North Dakota (5-2, Independent), 3 p.m.
These teams mirror each other a bit with their physical play and will try to command the line of scrimmage. Weber State is happy to mix in Treshawn Garrett and Josh Davis together. In North Dakota’s crowded backfield, John Santiago has a knee injury, but James Johannesson is the hot hand, rushing for 468 yards at nearly 9.5 yards a pop during the team’s three-game winning streak.
Pick: North Dakota
No. 8 Towson (6-1, 4-0 CAA) at No. 19 Delaware (5-2, 3-1), 3:30 p.m.
The CAA schedule is about to get tougher for quarterback Tom Flacco and first-place Towson, starting with a Delaware squad that can taste its first playoff bid since 2010. The Tigers will want to kick the ball away from NFL safety prospect Nasir Adderley.
No. 14 Stony Brook (6-2, 4-1 CAA) at No. 2 James Madison (5-2, 3-1), 3:30 p.m.
Stony Brook will attack with the run game as “The Long Island Express” duo of Jordon Gowins and Donald Liotine have both rushed for more than 100 yards four times this season. James Madison didn’t figure out the Seawolves’ rush defense in last year’s Round of 16 playoffs win, so quarterback Ben DiNucci is going to have to work downfield.
Pick: James Madison
Alabama A&M (3-4, 2-2 SWAC) vs. Alabama State (2-4, 1-1), 3:30 p.m.
Winning the SWAC East Division title would be nice, but this rivalry is a priority — neither team wants to lose to its bitter rival. The 77th Magic City Classic at Legion Field in Birmingham will attract the biggest FCS crowd to date (only the “Bayou Classic” between Grambling State and Southern challenges it). State beat A&M, 21-16, last year.
Pick: Alabama State
No. 16 Jacksonville State (5-2, 4-1 Ohio Valley) at Murray State (4-3, 4-0), 4 p.m.
Last week, the visiting Gamecocks were probably wondering if upstart Murray State would still have an unbeaten OVC record for this week’s meeting. Oops, along the way, the Gamecocks’ 36-game conference winning streak came to an end at Southeast Missouri. Gamecocks wide receiver Josh Person seeks to keep alive his streak of at least one TD catch in every game this season.
Pick: Jacksonville State
No. 5 UC Davis (6-1, 4-0 Big Sky) at Montana (4-3, 2-2), 4 p.m.
The Griz have had two weeks to stew, er, prepare for UC Davis. They’ve stopped converting third downs — a mere 6 of 24 (25 percent) during their two-game losing streak. Behind quarterback Jake Maier’s 21 touchdown passes, UC Davis has scored at least 44 points in each win this season.
No. 3 Kennesaw State (6-1, 2-0 Big South) at Charleston Southern (3-3, 1-0), 6 p.m.
In playing Savannah State (a loss), Virginia-Lynchburg and Presbyterian this month, Charleston Southern hasn’t exactly prepped for a team of Kennesaw State’s caliber. The Owls have 10 players with 100 or more rushing yards (no, that’s not a mistake). QB Chandler Burks leads the team in rushing (516 yards) and the FCS in scoring (102 points on 17 touchdowns).
Pick: Kennesaw State
No. 18 Central Arkansas (5-2, 4-1 Southland) at No. 21 McNeese (5-2, 4-1), 7 p.m.
In the Southland Conference, there are too many teams (five) competing for far too few playoff spots (two or three). In UCA’s three-game winning streak, freshman quarterback Luke Hales has thrown for 11 touchdowns despite having a completion percentage below 50. McNeese has been mediocre offensively despite having a veteran unit, including QB James Tabary.
Jackson State (3-3, 2-1 SWAC East) at Southern (4-3, 3-1 SWAC West), 7 p.m.
Southern is in first place in the West Division with a clear path to the title, but this also is one of the top rivalries HBCU football, so Jackson State will arrive charged emotionally. In fact, J-State knocked off MEAC leader Florida A&M last month. Southern has relied on its defense, allowing just seven points in the last two games.
Last Week’s Record: 8-3 (.727)
Season Record: 56-29 (.659)
— 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 Rich Barnes/Colgate Athletics)