Rob Weiss, FCS Update
South Dakota State at (1) Montana
This is a match-up of two teams I’m pretty familiar with. Both teams have played up and down this year.
For Montana the key is going to be QB play. They have switched QBs on and off and need to have the right chemistry on Saturday. I had the opportunity to watch the Griz against UC-Davis, Northern Arizona, Weber State, and Northern Colorado. The offense and defense were both all over the place. The UC-Davis game was a low scoring game that was tied in the 4th quarter, but the NAU game was an OT shootout. The team clicked on both sides of the ball against Weber State.
South Dakota State could’ve helped themselves with a win over Minnesota. The Jacks had the ball in a tie game with 5 minutes left but fumbled it on their own 20 yd line to give the game away.
I’ve seen the Jacks twice this year. Their games against Northern Iowa and Cal Poly were fairly similar with the exception of the result. SDSU should not have lost the Cal Poly game, but injury to a QB can really change your chemistry.
I see this game as a toss-up with the edge to the home team, but if the Griz are clicking, this could be a blow out.
Montana Grizzlies 31 South Dakota State Jackrabbits 27
Eastern Washington @ Stephen F. Austin
I have not had the opportunity to watch either of these teams this year.
Stephen F. Austin saw their offensive success through a huge passing game, while Eastern Washington has been a little more balanced than in the past.
If Eastern Washington can pull off the defensive gameplan that Texas State used against SFA, it could be a long day for the Lumberjacks.
Eastern Washington Eagles 35 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 28
Elon @ (4) Richmond
Both of these teams have lacked some consistency this year. Richmond struggled in some games they should have won easily and blew their game against Villanova. Elon didn’t show up for their big games against Wake Forest and Appalachian State.
I had the opportunity to watch Richmond a few times this year. They had issues in their game against a poor VMI team. The team struggled to get any rhythm going. In their game against Villanova they let the Wildcats score with about a minute left, then drove down for a chip shot FG that was wide left from the right hash. Now the team has a path that could run them through Missoula instead of a home path to Chatty. (A semifinal match-up against Montana would make for an interesting game).
Elon has had a great passing game this year. Their SoS was very poor and their performance against Appalachian State has a lot of people wondering.
Richmond Spiders 24 Elon Phoenix 21
South Carolina State @ (4) Appalachian State
A rematch of last years first round leaves many of us wondering if we’ll see a similar game. The MEAC champ went into Boone last year and really hung around.
I don’t think that will be the case this year. Last year the Mountaineers had an unhealthy Armanti Edwards and were not clicking. This App State team is scary to me. They seem to be clicking at the right time and have great chemistry.
South Carolina State’s only loss is to South Carolina. They won’t be a pushover, but I’m just not sure they have enough.
Appalachian State Mountaineers 38 South Carolina State Bulldogs 28
Eastern Illinois @ (3) Southern Illinois
This will be one of those lopsided first round match-ups.
The Panthers limped their way into the field, needing an EKU loss to get the autobid.
The Salukis have beat every team put in front of them after a near loss to FBS Marshall.
Look for EIU QB Jake Christensen to have a long day. SIU will pound the ball on the EIU offense and waltz into the second round.
Southern Illinois Salukis 38 Eastern Illinois 17
Weber State at William and Mary
This also has the makings of a lopsided match-up. Weber State struggled against tough competition and William and Mary was a FG away from being seeded in this years field.
After seeing William and Mary blow the Villanova game, they have been clicking ever since.
William and Mary Tribe 24 Weber State Wildcats 14
Holy Cross at (2) Villanova
This game is basically over before it begins. As long as the ‘Nova pass defense shows up, this one will be over quickly.
Holy Cross relies on it’s passing attack and struggled against a couple opponents. Villanova played one of the hardest schedules in the country and came through with only one loss.
Villanova Wildcats 31 Holy Cross Crusaders 14
New Hampshire at McNeese State
If New Hampshire had any kind of facilities and home crowd they would be at home. Their team deserves to be at home almost every year but gets stuck taking flights across the country. New Hampshire is the clear favorite in this road match-up.
As one of two upsets I picked, this is the only game I feel will be a clear cut winner. New Hampshire beat some tough opponents and also went on the road to get a FBS win. McNeese has a good team and a great enviroment, but that won’t stop the Wildcats.
New Hampshire Wildcats 24 McNeese State Cowboys 14
With expected 2nd round matchups, my current pick for national champion is Appalachian State. Armanti Edwards is the only QB in FCS football that can single handedly win games. If he is truly healthy, and stays healthy, he’ll get his 3rd national championship.