Week 8 Sees 13 of 40 Games Wiped From the Slate

April 3, 2021 by Staff

Last week's slate of 40 contests was decimated by Covid issues at various schools and, ultimately, only 30 games took place. This week, we're down from 40 games to 27 with 10 games canceled, 4 games postponed and 1 added.

Here's who isn't playing

Multiple changes were announced by the Patriot League on Wednesday, most notably the rescheduling of this week's Lehigh-Lafayette game. The 156th edition of that historic rivalry has been moved from this Saturday to next Saturday, April 10.

The Patriot League changes allow for all six teams to complete 3 games. The top two teams will meet April 17 for the championship match and the right to advance to the NCAA Playoffs.

Here are all of the Patriot League changes:
- Bucknell at Holy Cross scheduled for this Saturday has been canceled and will not be rescheduled.
- Bucknell at Lehigh moved to this week from 4/10.
- Lehigh at Lafayette moved from 4/3 to 4/10.
- Two make-up games have been added to the 4/10 schedule - Holy Cross at Colgate, and Fordham at Bucknell

Soon after we began writing this article on Monday morning, Cal Poly and Chattanooga both announced they are opting out of the remainder of the spring season.

Chattanooga, which fell from 14th to 29th in the last Congrove Computer Rankings after an upset loss to Mercer. ends the season at with a 3-1 spring record, a 3-2 over-all mark, and a 3-1 record in SoCon play. The Mocs are tied for 32nd with ETSU, a game behind VMI. Chattanooga was slated to play at Western Carolina this week, then host Samford before wrapping up at ETSU.Meanwhile, the Missouri Valley Football Conference said the Missouri State-North Dakota game has been canceled due to Covid issues in the the Fighting Hawks' program.

Cal Poly wasn't having nearly as much success. The Mustangs are ranked 77th after a 62-10 loss to Eastern Washington and haven't won a game (0-3). Cal Poly had a trip to Northern Arizona slated for this week, followed by home dates with UC Davis and Weber State.

North Dakota is in a 3-way battle for first in the MVFC with North Dakota State and South Dakota State, the latter two of whom are scheduled to face each other this week. Now, the Hawks and Bears have only a single game left versus Youngstown State on their respective schedules as each school has also lost a scheduled game with Illinois State after that school shut down its program over a week ago.

The contest featuring North Dakota State hosting South Dakota State has been moved to April 17 due to ongoing Covid issues within the Bison program. Last weekend's game at South Dakota was canceled within hours of kickoff when a test came back positive.

Another MVFC game was canceled on Thursday when it was announced by the conference that the Northern Iowa contest at South Dakota scheduled for Friday night was called off due to Covid issues in the USD program.

Friday's rescheduled game between Wagner and Merrimack has also been scratched. The Northeast Conference added that Wagner's postponed game with Sacred Heart will not be rescheduled so that effectively ends the regular for that conference. Duquesne (4-0) will host a Spring season rematch with Sacred Heart (2-1) on Sunday, April 11 for the right to advance to the NCAA tourney. The Dukes won the first meeting 30-27, which the computer predicted. But the computer picks the Pioneers by a mere 0.91 points in next week's title game, echoing its preseason prediction for Sacred Heart to win the conference championship.

Other games canceled late in the week featured a second attempt for Alabama A&M to play at Prairie View A&M. No make-up dates are currently available for that game.

No make-up dates are available for the New Hampshire-Rhode Island game in the Colonial Athletic Association conference that was also called off.

The CAA was additionally hit by Albany's mid-week decision to opt-out of its last two games. The Great Danes will not travel to Delaware on Saturday, or host Villanova on April 10. The conference is not expected to make any schedule adjustments to find Delaware or Villanova replacement opponents.

Still in the CAA, the all-important game sending James Madison to Richmond has been postponed, along with JMU's game next week at Elon. The Dukes had previously experienced Covid issues that forced the cancellation of a home game with Richmond two weeks ago, but both of these moves were caused by the Covid situations with the Spiders and Tribe.

The battle for first place in the rankings is still between North Dakota State and James Madison, according to the computer rankings, which has the Bison in first by 0.08 ratings points over the Dukes. The Stats Perform FCS Poll, voted by the media, has the two schools flipped with JMU receiving 31 first-place votes to NDSU's 5. Weber State (1),  South Dakota State (2) and Sam Houston (1) also picked up first-place votes.

As mentioned earlier, North Dakota State's home clash with South Dakota State has been moved from this Saturday to April 17.

Here's who is playing

Sam Houston State travels to Natchitoches, Louisiana to start off the week with a battle against Southland rival Northwestern State.  The Demons pulled off the 31-28 upset in Huntsville the last time these teams met in 2019. The Bearkats had won 4 straight in the series. Sam Houston would go on to finish the season at 7-5 while Northwestern State was 3-9.

Coming into this week's game, the Bearkats are 3-0 and ranked 9th in the Congrove Computer Rankings while the Demons are 0-4 and ranked 91st out of 94 teams. Somewhat surprisingly, the computer only gives SHSU a 9.72-point edge, despite the fact that the Bearkats have played and defeated three teams to whom the Demons have lost.  NW State has fallen to SE Louisiana, Nicholls and Lamar by a total of 18 points while Sam Houston State had defeated all three by a total of 114 points. When the spreads are released Tuesday night or Wednesday by the sportsbooks, expect the line for this game to fall in the 28.5-point range (it opened at 24.5).

Sam Houston ranks 1st in the FCS in scoring offense at 58.7 points per game, and 3rd in total offense at 57.3 yards per contest.

A pair of high-powered offenses take the stage on Saturday when Eastern Washington (3-1) visits UC Davis. Since losing the spring opener at Idaho, the Eagles have reeled off 3 straight wins while scoring at least 45 points in every game. Meanwhile, the Aggies (3-1) won at Idaho, but lost at Weber State the following week. They've won 2 straight since then.

Eastern Washington is 2nd in the nation in total offense at 283.8 ypg, and 3rd in passing offense at 407.2 ypg. UC Davis ranks 10th in total offense, 11th in scoring offense and 9th in rushing. The computer likes the home team by 1.87, but we're expecting the oddsmakers to give a 3-point edge to the visitors from Cheney (it opened in favor of UC Davis at 1.5).

VMI looks to go 6-0 when the Keydets have an all-important home battle against ETSU (3-1). These two teams, which were in the bottom three of the preseason coaches' poll, are battling it out down the stretch for an NCAA tourney spot as the SoCon champion. VMI opened as a 1.5-point favorite while the computer likes the Keydets by 7.23 points in this week's tussle. The Keydets are already guaranteed their first winning season since 1981. VMI's last undefeated season came in 1957 (9-0-1) when the Keydets tied Holy Cross and defeated both Virginia and Virginia Tech.

ETSU was just 3-9 in 2019 and finished dead last in the conference in the second season with Randy Sanders as head coach. Sanders' inaugural season saw the Bucs go 8-4. The football program was dormant from 2004-2014.

Weber State this week visits Southern Utah as an 11.68-point computer choice, well under the 19.5-point spread.

Upset Picks

Last week, the computer was 3-4 straight up and 4-3 against the spread on outright upset plays. The week before that, it was 5-3 straight and 6-2 against the spread for a combined mark of 8-7 SU and 10-5 ATS over the past two weeks.

The computer's opposite plays this week are all on Saturday games:
Albany by 4.61 over DELAWARE (-13.5) - Canceled
Morehead State by 3.26 over BUTLER (-1.5)
FORDHAM by 2.07 over Colgate (-4.5)
ELON by 3.39 over William & Mary (-7.5) - Canceled
New Hampshire by 6.76 over RHODE ISLAND (-0.5) - Canceled
STETSON by 14.90 over Presbyterian (-2.5)

SEE: Weekly Picks