Get your signs ready for the big games on campus
Last week's #FCSonGameDay social media campaign must have gotten lost in cyberspace because, ahem, ESPN’s "College GameDay" has touched down in a time warp — back at their last FCS visit (you know, in 2017), James Madison hosting Villanova for the best game of the week.
Kirk Herbstreit will appear via satellite because there's no guarantee a little 'ol FCS hub like Harrisonburg can get him to Baton Rouge for the night game.
Desmond Howard was planning to text in his picks, but his phone is out of charge, so David Chappelle is en route to fill in instead as the celebratory guest selector.
Lee Corso says he will fax in his selections. James Madison officials remain unsure if they still have a fax machine.
Rece Davis is already the first to arrive on campus. He's been greeted by, "Wait, you’re not Chris Fowler."
Here's a countdown of the 10 best FCS games in Week 7:
Note: All times ET. Rank in front of team refers to the FCS Power Poll.
10. Houston Baptist (4-2, 1-1 Southland) at Abilene Christian (2-4, 1-3)
7 p.m., Saturday
We’re contractually obligated to include HBU’s FCS No. 1-ranked offense in the countdown of the best games. Quarterback Bailey Zappe even completes 49 passes in losses and has thrown for the most yards (2,207) and touchdowns (24) in Division I.
The Pick: Houston Baptist
9. Florida A&M (4-1, 2-0 MEAC) at South Carolina State (3-1, 1-0)
2 p.m., Saturday
America’s most-rested team — SCSU was off for 21 days before last Saturday’s win — has to ratchet up the terrific early-season play even more because FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley arrives in town just 26 passing yards shy of the Rattlers’ all-time record and completing 67 percent of his passes against non-FBS opposition.
The Pick: Florida A&M
8. New Hampshire (3-2, 2-0 CAA) at No. 23 Stony Brook (4-2, 1-1)
6 p.m., Saturday
While everybody in the CAA was paying attention to Stony Brook putting an overtime scare into James Madison last Saturday, UNH was terrorizing the Elon offense with six sacks, five takeaways, and two defensive touchdowns. Still, the Seawolves have an advantage at quarterback with Tyquell Fields.
The Pick: Stony Brook
7. No. 21 Southeast Missouri (3-2, 1-0 Ohio Valley) at Austin Peay (3-2, 1-0)
3 p.m., Saturday
Picking the OVC champ used to be easy — you would take Jacksonville State and give everybody else the field. Austin Peay has been the best in the conference at stopping the run and is rested off a bye (following a win over Jacksonville State). SEMO’s defense has to pick its poison between Governors’ 500-yard rusher Kentel Williams and 500-yard receiver DeAngelo Wilson.
The Pick: Austin Peay
6. No. 3 South Dakota State (4-1, 1-0 MVFC) at No. 16 Youngstown State (4-1, 0-1)
6 p.m., Saturday
This bruising game arrives about a month too early in Youngstown, where 70-degree temperatures this week have thawed the Ice House. The change from non-league schedule to Missouri Valley opponents is threatening to do the same with the Penguins’ playoff hopes.
The Pick: South Dakota State
5. San Diego (2-2, 1-0 Pioneer) at Davidson (4-1, 1-0)
1 p.m., Saturday
The visiting Toreros have won 30 straight PFL games, including 56-52 over Davidson last November even though the Wildcats rushed for 789 yards to set a Division I record. Can wide receivers get deactivated before an FCS game?
The Pick: Davidson
4. No. 9 Northern Iowa (3-2, 1-0 MVFC) at No. 1 North Dakota State (5-0, 1-0)
2 p.m., Saturday
Even long-time NDSU observers have to admit the Bison’s 37-3 win at Illinois State was one of the most impressive during their FCS dynasty this decade. The series with UNI is tied 26-26, but the Bison have won five straight and eight of the last nine meetings.
The Pick: North Dakota State
3. No. 18 Sacramento State (3-2, 1-0 Big Sky) at No. 8 Montana State (5-1, 2-0)
4 p.m., Saturday
The visiting Hornets, who are pursuing their first-ever FCS playoff bid, are kicking off the Big Sky schedule against the triumvirate of Eastern Washington, Montana State and Montana. Eastern Washington, check. Montana State …
The Pick: Sacramento State
2. Yale (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) at Dartmouth (3-0, 1-0)
1:30 p.m., Saturday
They say you need an Ivy League education to know how to rank unbeatens Princeton, Dartmouth and Yale in correct order this season. We’re going to take the easy way out and instead enroll in a biomechanical engineering class.
The Pick: Dartmouth
1. No. 5 Villanova (6-0, 3-0 CAA) at No. 2 James Madison (5-1, 2-0)
1:30 p.m., Saturday
Villanova is the only FCS team with four road wins, but this is the toughest assignment of the season. We’re contractually obligated to tell you the only FCS quarterback who’s been responsible for more touchdowns than Villanova’s Daniel Smith (23) is Houston Baptist’s Bailey Zappe (24).
The Pick: James Madison
Last Week’s Record: 8-2 (.800)
Season Record: 43-17 (.717)
— 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 James Madison Athletics)