FCS Week 3 Preview: 74-Game Weekend Slate Kicks Off Thursday

September 13, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

All eight Ivy League schools make their 2023 season debuts this Saturday while the FCS college football weekend gets underway Thursday night when Bethune-Cookman heads south from Daytona Beach to take on the Miami Hurricanes in one of the twenty-one FBS-FCS matchups on the docket.

The Ivy League schedule, as usual, has all 8 teams playing a 10-game schedule over consecutive weekends. They each face 3 non-conference foes and a round-robin conference slate. The team with the best regular season conference record is crowned champion, but no member can participate in the FCS Playoffs, per conference rules.

Defending conference champion Yale opens at home against Holy Cross.  Yale is ranked No. 22 in the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com, which lists the Bulldogs as a tight 0.72-point favorite over the Crusaders who slipped from 21st to 30th in the rankings after a narrow loss at FBS member Boston College.  Holy Cross is ranked 5th in the American Football Coaches Association Poll which effectively has Yale ranked 28th.

(ALSO SEE: Picks and Scores, Odds)

Harvard and Princeton are also receiving votes in the Coaches Poll, effectively ranking Crimson 34th and  Princeton 36th. In the computer rankings, Harvard is 54th and Princeton is 41st.

The Crimson open at home as a slim 0.33-point favorite against the computer's 58th-ranked St. Thomas Tommies of St. Paul, while the Tigers head out to California to take on the San Diego Toreros as a 3.92-point computer pick.

Another Ivy League game has No. 13 New Hampshire as a 27.84-point favorite over Dartmouth.

Top Games This Week

The biggest game of the week has the computer's 4th-ranked No. 4 Sacramento State Hornets listed as a 6.31-point when they travel 120 miles west to "The Farm" to take on Stanford and former head coach Troy Taylor. Sacramento State promoted defensive coordinator Andy Thompson to head coach when Taylor left. The Cardinal opened as a 9.5-point favorite with the oddsmakers.

The computer's 19th-ranked team, Central Arkansas, visits 6th-ranked North Dakota State with the home team favored by 6.28 in the Fargodome.

16th-ranked Southeast Missouri hosts 18th-ranked Southern Illinois with the Redhawks favored by 8.38 over the Salukis.

North Dakota, ranked 7th by the computer, visits FBS member Boise State as a 29.73-point underdog.

No. 17 Abilene Christian is a 1.9-point home favorite over No. 27 Incarnate Word. Those teams have dramatically different rankings in the AFCA Coaches' Poll where the Wildcats didn't pick up a single vote while the Cardinals are ranked 9th.

Meanwhile, top-ranked South Dakota State will take on Drake at Target Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the MLB Twins. It's only the third time that the stadium has hosted a college football game and the previous two were very successful at turning out a crowd. In 2017, a then-record Division III crowd of 37,355 witnessed St. Thomas of Twin City neighbor St. Paul  knock off St. John's 20-17. St. Thomas has since become a FCS program. In 2019, North Dakota State crushed Butler 57-10 in from of 34,544 fans. This year's matchup is likely to be as non-competitive as the last one, with the top-ranked Jackrabbits favored by a whopping 34.77 over the 3rd-worst team in the computer rankings

Idaho, which jumped from 16th to 8th after last week's 33-6 beatdown of Nevada in Reno, will try to make it two in-a-row over FBS schools when the Vandals travel to Berkeley to face Cal as a 23.18-point computer underdog. Cal opened as a 17.5-point favorite by the oddsmakers.

No. 9 Furman visits Kennesaw State in what could easily become a trap game for the Paladins. The Owls are ineligible for the FCS playoffs and are only playing a 9-game schedule as an independent this season before making the jump to the FBS and Conference USA next year.

10th-ranked Weber State, hot off a 34-17 upset win at Northern Iowa, will only need to travel 40 minutes south for this week's road game against FBS member Utah. This one could get ugly for the Wildcats as the Utes were among the preseason favorites to win the PAC-12 and get a massive separation of 41.61 points from the computer.


This season has 117 of the 133 FBS schools facing one FCS opponent, and Army playing two such games for a total of 118 FBS-FCS matchups.

Of the 16 FBS schools that do NOT play a FCS program, 7 are in the B1G (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin). 6 more are evenly split between the Big 12 (Houston, Oklahoma, Texas) and Pac-12 (Colorado, USC, Washington). The other three are Liberty (CUSA) , UTSA (American), and Virginia Tech (ACC).

FBS schools were 35-3 this past weekend and are 77-3 this year against the FCS schools.

There are 21 such games this week.

Over-all, the FBS is a collective 1,763-151 (.921) since we began tracking this in 2003.

Here are the FCS wins in 2023, so far:
September 9: Idaho 33, Nevada 6
September 9: Southern Illinois 14, Northern Illinois 12
September 9: Fordham 40, Buffalo 37

Here are the FCS wins in 2022 when the FBS was 112-8 (.933):
September 2: William & Mary 41, Charlotte 24
September 3: Delaware14, Navy 7
September 10: Weber State 35, Utah State 7
September 10: Incarnate Word 55, Nevada 41
September 10: Holy Cross 37, Buffalo 31
September 10: Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57 (7 OT's)
September 17: Southern Illinois 31, Northwestern 24
September 24: Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10

Streaks - Current FCS Longest

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE - Won 16 straight over-all
Last: 20-16 home win over Montana State on Saturday, September 9.
Next: vs. Drake at Minneapolis on Saturday, September 16.

MONTANA STATE - Won 21 straight home games.
Last: Lost 20-16 at South Dakota State on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Hosts Stetson on Saturday, September 16.

SACRAMENTO STATE - Won 18 straight conference games, and 11 straight road games.
Last: 34-6 home win over Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits FBS member Stanford and former head coach Tory Taylor on Saturday, September 16.

WESTERN ILLINOIS - Lost 15 straight over-all.
Last: 34-18 home loss to Illinois State on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Hosts Lindenwood on Saturday, September 16.

WAGNER - Lost 22 straight road games.
Last: 24-0 at Navy on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits Sacred Heart on Saturday, September 16.

PRESBYTERIAN - Lost 16 straight conference games.
Last: 48-17 win at home over D2 member VUL (Virginia University of Lynchburg) on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits Wofford on Saturday, September 16.

NORFOLK STATE - Lost 7 straight home games.
Last: 31-23 win at Hampton on Saturday, September 9.
Next: Visits Temple on Saturday, September 16.