FCS Weekend Preview: 3 de facto Conference Championship Games Will Be Played Saturday

November 18, 2021 by Staff

This week marks the end of the regular season in the FCS for all but five teams - Alabama State, Grambling State, MVSU, Prairie View A&M and Southern.

Conference titles and NCAA playoff bids will be on the line. So far, only three teams have locked down bids - Sam Houston State (AQ7), UT Martin (OVC) and Holy Cross (Patriot).

Eleven conferences receive automatic bids for its champion. The Ivy League, MEAC and SWAC do not.

The action begins tonight with the second meeting this season between Nicholls State and SE Louisiana. The Lions won 58-48 at Thibodaux on October 9 and they are a 7.51-point favorite to knock off the Colonels in Hammond in the rematch, according to predictions based on the Congrove Compute Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com.  That would give SELA the Southland title if Incarnate Word follows up with a massive upset loss at Houston Baptist on Saturday, but the Cardinals are 21.74-point favorites in that contest.

The Big Sky bid comes down to Montana State (9-1, 7-0) and Sacramento State 8-2, 7-0), both of whom are 7-0 in conference play and did not face-off during the regular season. The Bobcats visit rival Montana in a battle for "The Great Divide Trophy" which has been in Montana State's possession since 2016. Overall, Montana leads the series 72-41-5 and the computer favors the Griz by a slim 1.72 points to recapture the hardware.

Meanwhile, Sacramento State is an even slimmer 0.48-point favorite at UC Davis (8-2, 5-2 Big Sky).

Kennesaw State and Monmouth have a de facto Big South championship playoff game on Saturday with the homestanding Owls favored by a single point.

James Madison and Villanova are tied atop the Colonial with 6-1 records, but the Wildcats own the tie-breaker with their 28-27 win in Harrisonburg on October 9. The Dukes are a huge 27.50-point home favorite over Towson, while the Wildcats are a 7.68-point favorite at Delaware. Those results would give Villanova the automatic bid and leave JMU as a shoo-in for an at-large bid.

Another de facto conference championship game takes place in Fargo where North Dakota State hosts South Dakota with the Missouri Valley Football Conference crown on the line. The computer likes the home team by a whopping 16.07 points.

Sacred Heart is a 14.02-point favorite to win at LIU and capture the Northeast Conference bid. If the Pioneers fall victim to the upset, Bryant gets in with a win at Merrimack where the Bulldogs are only a 1-point computer pick.

Davidson gets another crack at wrapping up the Pioneer League title when it hosts Drake as a 15.25-point favorite. The Wildcats failed to take care of business last week with a 38-29 upset loss at Dayton. That left the Wildcats tied with a San Diego team it defeated earlier in the year and the Torreros will claim the title if they win at Stetson and Davidson falters. San Diego is favored by 8.28. This past spring, Davidson won the school's first conference title since 1969 (Southern) and made its first-ever NCAA playoff appearance

The SoCon comes down to the winner of yet another de facto conference championship clash when Mercer faces ETSU in Johnson City. Both schools are 6-1 in the conference after the Bucs rallied to a 56-35 win over Western Carolina in Cullowhee, and the Bears prevailed 10-6 at home over Chattanooga. ETSU is picked by 8.99 points to get it done in front of the home folks. Mercer revived its program in 2013 after dropping football following the 1941 season and is the only SoCon team that has never made it to the FCS playoffs.

As for those conferences not competing for automatic playoff bids, Dartmouth is a 22.14-point favorite at Brown to secure the Ivy League title, and South Carolina State has clinched the MEAC.

Jackson State leads the SWAC East and Prairie View sits atop the west, even after its 31-29 loss at Alcorn State last Saturday. Jackson State's 21-17 win at Southern was the first over its conference rival since 2014 and clinched the Eastern division for Deion Sanders' team. JSU will face either Prairie View or Alcorn in the conference title game with the Panthers holding a one-game edge in the Western half of the conference. Ironically, Jackson State hosts the Braves on Saturday as a 7.41-point pick while Prairie View plays its final conference game on November 27th at home against MVSU.

Another game to watch on Saturday is The Florida Classic, the annual rivalry between Tallahassee's Florida A&M and Daytona Beach's Bethune-Cookman. The computer favors the Rattlers by 11.82 points to end a 9-yaer losing streak in the series.


2 teams will play 2 FCS teams this fall (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams will play 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups.

The final 4 FCS-FBS matchups of the year will take place this Saturday with Charleston Southern at Georgia, Tennessee State at Mississippi State, Wofford at North Carolina, and Prairie View A&M at Texas A&M.

In addition, Howard, hosts D2 school Virginia-Lynchburg which has already lost 4 games to FCS schools this season by an average margin of 42-1/2 points.

The FBS is 101-12 vs. the FCS this season. Since we began tracking this in 2003, the FBS teams are 1,570-140 (.918).

Last year, 30 FBS teams played a total of just 34 games against FCS schools and the FCS won just 1 game (1-33). That honor also went to Jacksonville State with its 19-10 victory over FIU.

Here are the FCS wins in 2021:
September 2: UC Davis 19, Tulsa 17
September 2: Eastern Washington 35, UNLV 33 (2 OT)
September 3: South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23
September 4: Holy Cross 38, UConn 28September 4: Montana 13, Washington 7
September 4: ETSU 23, Vanderbilt 3
September 11: Duquesne 28, Ohio 26
September 11: Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17.
September 18: Incarnate Word 42, Texas State 34.
September 18: Northern Arizona 21, Arizona 19
November 6: Rhode Island 35, Massachusetts 22
November 13: Maine 35, Massachusetts 10

This was the only FCS win vs. the FBS in 2020:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10

In 2019, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games. These were the only FCS wins that season:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)


SAM HOUSTON STATE - Won 20 straight games overall (FCS longest).
Last: Won 42-28 at home over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Abilene Christian on Saturday, Nov. 20.

ALCORN STATE - Won 13 straight home games (FCS longest).
Last: Won 31-29 at home over Prairie View A&M on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Jackson State on Saturday, Nov. 20.

MONMOUTH - Won 16 straight conference games (FCS longest).
Last: Won 44-7 at home over Robert Morris on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Kennesaw State on Saturday, Nov. 20.

DARTMOUTH - Won 10 straight road games (FCS longest).
Last: Won 41-7 at home over Cornell on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Brown on Saturday, Nov. 20.

TEXAS SOUTHERN - Lost 17 straight road games (tied FCS longest).
Last: Lost 52-49 at home to Alabama A&M on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Alabama State on Saturday, Nov. 20.

YOUNGSTOWN STATE - Lost 17 straight road games (tied FCS longest).
Last: Lost 49-17 at home to North Dakota State on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Southern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 20.

BUTLER - Lost 14 straight conference games (FCS longest).
Last: Lost 47-3 at home to Valparaiso on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Visits Marist on Saturday, Nov. 20.

WAGNER - Lost 19 straight overall (FCS longest).
LAST: Lost 27-0 at Scared Heart on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Next: Hosts Duquesne on Saturday, Nov. 20.