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FCS Football: Predictions for the Best 10 Games in Week 9

FCS Football: Predictions for the Best 10 Games in Week 9

FCS Football: Predictions for the Best 10 Games in Week 9

They're celebrating across college football because this week's banner schedule of games is 150 years in the making.

OK, that may be overstating it a tad.

But isn't that what Montana Grizzly fans always do?

The schedule is so big with top matchups that the one set to draw the season’s biggest crowd to date – Alabama A&M versus Alabama State at Legion Field in Birmingham – didn’t even make the cut in the weekly countdown of the 10 best. Plus, we’re missing South Carolina State at Bethune-Cookman, Montana State at North Dakota, Georgetown at Lehigh and, yeah, yeah, we know your complaint is coming on social media.

Here's a countdown of the 10 best FCS games in Week 9:

Note: All times ET. Rank in front of team refers to the FCS Power Poll.

10. San Diego (4-2, 3-0 Pioneer) at Dayton (4-2, 2-1)

12 p.m., Saturday

The last Pioneer Football League team to beat San Diego was... hmm, we hardly remember. Oh yes, the Toreros’ 32-game run began after a 13-12 loss at Dayton on Oct. 12, 2015. With quarterback Reid Sinnett accounting for 25 touchdowns), the Toreros have yet to be held below 30 points in a game this season. Dayton head coach Rick Chamberlin is appearing in his 500th career with the Flyers as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

The Pick: San Diego

9. Harvard (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) at No. 13 Princeton (5-0, 2-0)

1 p.m., Saturday

It’s Homecoming at Princeton, where the Tigers tend to make themselves at home in an opposing team’s end zone. During the Ivy League champ’s 15-game winning streak, it leads all FCS teams in scoring average at 47 points per game. But Harvard’s been a bit stingy this season and leads the nation with 5.2 sacks per game, so maybe — only maybe — the Tigers will be tested.

The Pick: Princeton

8. No. 21 Towson (4-3, 1-2 CAA) at No. 2 James Madison (7-1, 4-0)

3:30 p.m., Saturday

This feels like last week’s Northern Arizona game at No. 4 Weber State, where QB Case Cookus always gives his team a chance for a win. Towson has Tom Flacco, so the Tigers... oh wait, Weber still won by 23 going away.

The Pick: James Madison

7. UT Martin (5-2, 4-0 Ohio Valley) at No. 25 Southeast Missouri (4-3, 2-1)

2 p.m., Saturday

UT Martin’s next victory will be head coach Jason Simpson’s 86th overall and a school record. The strength of schedule is about to rise for the Ohio Valley Conference front-runner, but the surprising Skyhawks have a toughness that appears to be championship material. This one will be close.

The Pick: UT Martin

6. No. 4 Weber State (5-2, 3-0 Big Sky) at No. 17 UC Davis (4-4, 2-2)

7 p.m., Saturday

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Weber State’s Josh Davis rushed for 328 yards last Saturday while UC Davis’ Jake Maier surpassed 10,000 career passing yards in another stellar performance. If that means defense will be the difference, the Wildcats are best suited in a matchup between two of the Big Sky’s 2018 tri-champs.

The Pick: Weber State

5. No. 22 Eastern Washington (3-4, 2-1 Big Sky) at No. 8 Montana (5-2, 2-1)

2 p.m., Saturday

Eastern Washington, last year’s FCS runner-up, surely can’t afford another loss if it’s going to make the FCS playoffs, and the Eagles won’t find any sympathy at sold-out Washington-Grizzly Stadium, where Montana seeks to get back on track after a decisive loss to Sacramento State. Griz QB Dalton Sneed is likely sidelined due to an ankle injury, which would mean Cam Humphrey gets the start. That gives the Eagles an edge at quarterback with Eric Barriere.

The Pick: Eastern Washington

4. No. 18 Sam Houston State (5-3, 4-1 Southland) at No. 16 Central Arkansas (5-2, 3-1)

7 p.m., Saturday

Welcome to the Southland, where every week a different team is the best team in the conference. Central Arkansas has allowed at least 30 points in five straight games, so we’ll say Sam Houston is the best Southland team this week. The Bearkats have racked up 93 tackles for 332 yards in losses. Mercy.

The Pick: Sam Houston State

3. Chattanooga (4-3, 3-0 Southern) at Wofford (4-2, 3-1)

1:30 p.m., Saturday

After a surprising 0-2 start to the season, Wofford has regrouped to average more than 441 rushing yards during a four-game winning streak. When the Terriers are on defense, they’ll know which Moc will be getting the ball. Ailym Ford leads all FCS freshmen in rushing (756 yards) and has at least 30 carries in each of the SoCon leader’s three conference wins.

The Pick: Wofford

2. Southern (4-3, 3-0 SWAC East) at Alcorn State (5-2, 3-0 West)

3 p.m., Saturday

Alcorn State beat Southern twice last season, including 37-28 at home in the SWAC championship game. Both teams have impressive depth at quarterback. Alcorn’s Felix Harper has replaced an injured Noah Johnson, the 2018 SWAC offensive player of the year, and thrown 18 touchdowns with just two picks. Last Saturday, Glendon McDaniel came off the bench to replace starter Ladarius Skelton and rescue Southern with three second-half TD passes against Texas Southern.

The Pick: Alcorn State

1. No. 1 North Dakota State (7-0, 3-0 Missouri Valley) at No. 3 South Dakota State (6-1, 3-0)

3 p.m., Saturday

This game’s big enough for a visit by ESPN’s "College GameDay." There are few dates on North Dakota State’s schedule that suggest when its 28-game winning streak may come to an end, but this clearly is one, especially considering the Bison started the run after it last lost in Brookings in 2017. By winning out in the regular season, they can match their FCS-record 33-game win streak from 2012-14, so Trey Lance and Co. have eyes on the prize. Oh yes, there are other prizes dangling out there, including the Dakota Marker trophy this week.

The Pick: North Dakota State

Last Week’s Record: 4-6 (.400)

Season Record: 54-26 (.675)

— 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 UT Martin Athletics)