FCS: Week 3 matchups to watch in the championship subdivision

Even this early in the season, playoff implications are on the line. Here are three pivotal FCS football matchups to watch in the next week.

When the NFL officially kicks off its regular season, football in America is back (Canada has been going since June but neither here nor there). As for college football, Week 3 is officially here, and most teams are getting ready for conference play. FBS teams are wrapping up their last few tune-up games, and FCS schools are getting their last chance at FBS action before they get ready for their FCS schedule. Some FCS teams are playing key non-conference games that will matter to the FCS playoff committee in November. No matter who’s playing, it is sure to be a fun-filled weekend with plenty of twists, turns, surprises, and upsets. 

UT-Chattanooga @ Tennessee

No FCS team has ever been more excited to play an FBS team than Chattanooga in Week 3. Tennessee is reeling right now. Losses to Georgia State and BYU have Vols fans everywhere requesting head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s head on a platter. The Vols had leads in both games but could not overcome obstacles to put them in the win column. 

The Mocs are no pushovers either. Coming off of a loss against one of the best FCS teams in the country in Jacksonville State, the Mocs have been watching the news in Neyland and know that this is a winnable game for them. Senior QB Nick Tiano transferred from Mississippi State in 2016 and is in his 2nd full season as the starter, and the man can throw. Tiano didn’t have the best game against JSU (14/28, 147 yards) but any given Saturday, he’s a threat with his arm. Tiano also has true freshman RB Ailym Ford to lean back whenever he needs help. Ford ran wild against JSU (22 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD) and certainly can do the same against the Vols.

Georgia State and BYU beat the Vols in different ways, but they both were able to run the ball. If the Mocs can do that and Tiano can pass efficiently, the Vols may be in trouble again. This game is most likely one of their last chances to get a win this season because after the Mocs come, they play at Florida, home against Georgia and Mississippi State, and on the road to Tuscaloosa. The time to win for Rocky Top is now. 

#1 North Dakota State @ #18 Delaware

Here is a heavyweight FCS bout in Week 3. Perennial powerhouses face off in Newark, Delaware, for the second time ever after the Bison beat down the Blue Hens 38-10 for their homecoming in the FargoDome. The Bison may have their next great dual-threat QB on their hands.

Redshirt freshman Trey Lance has helped the Bison lead the country in pass efficiency by having more touchdowns than incompletions (6 TDs, five incompletions). Lance also ranks first nationally in yards per rush (10.05) and points responsible for (60) and second in rushing TDs (4). Lance is a one-man wrecking crew on offense, and junior LB Jabril Cox (FCS All-American) leads the perennial stingy Bison defense. These two have been hyped up since the offseason, and the hype is real.

The Blue Hens have their dual-threat QB as well, a QB who might remind Bison fans of Brock Jensen, the big, physical QB who led the first three-peat for the Bison from 2011 to 2013. Senior Pat Kehoe has a big arm and can run through the tackles for the Blue Hens. Kehoe played his worst game of the year last season versus the Bison: 11-29, 95 passing yards, three interceptions, and NEGATIVE 25 rushing yards. This game is going to mean a lot to the Blue Hens at home. 

This game will be exciting, and hopefully, Delaware comes to play better than they did last year. The highs of freshmen QBs are great, but the lows can be very low. If Delaware can force Trey Lance into some awkward situations, they have a chance to knock off the Bison’s 23-game win streak.  

#5 Eastern Washington @ #16 Jacksonville State

Now, this is the QB showdown of the week. Two black quarterbacks with phenomenal talent leading two of the top teams in the nation with the same colors. Zerrick Cooper of JSU and Eric Barriere of EWU are some of the most electric QBs ever to grace their storied programs. The 2018 FCS runner-up in Eastern Washington is coming to take the souls of Jacksonville State. 

Eric Barriere looks like the second coming of Vernon Adams Jr. for the Eagles; whispers he may be better. Barriere put up numbers against Lindenwood last game: 32 of 46, 522 yards, five TDs; 556 total yards, six total TDs. Straight ridiculousness. To top it off, WR Dre’Sonte Dorton broke a school record with 289 yards on 15 catches and 3 TDs. This offense is potent, and Barriere could have NFL/CFL looks whenever he would like to enter the NFL Draft since he is currently eligible. 

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks are coming through. Zerrick Cooper took over last season after transferring in from Clemson and lit up the Ohio Valley Conference as he became a sophomore All-American. No matter win or loss, Cooper will put up numbers. He logged 40-52, 414 yards, 2 TDs and INTs in the first loss against Southeastern Louisiana, then went 20-26 for 344 yards, 1 INT, and 2 TDs in their first win over Chattanooga. The Gamecocks may not run the ball much, but when they do, the duo of Austin Kinsey and Michael Matthews will get yards. 

This game is enormous in the FCS world, with playoff seeding on the line for both of these teams, if either of them can’t win an automatic bid into the tournament. Points will go up under the bright Jacksonville, Alabama sun, where football reigns supreme, even in the FCS. May the better bird win in Week 3. 

Related Articles