(Stats Perform) – Perhaps a look down your favorite FCS conference standings feels a bit ghoulish in the final days before Halloween.
There’s still depth in title races, so a loss gets magnified at this time of the year.
It’s a worse feeling than receiving something nutritious while trick or treating.
There’s a solution, of course – win the bigger games later in the season.
Here are some of the best games in Week 9 across FCS college football (all times ET on Saturday):
FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week/Patriot: No. 22 Fordham (6-1, 2-0) at co-No. 5 Holy Cross (7-0, 3-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Holy Cross has a five-game winning streak against Fordham. The visiting Rams rank No. 1 in the FCS in passing yards per game (436.9) behind quarterback Tim DeMorat (3,025 yards, 33 touchdowns, four interceptions), but also 130th and last in passing yards allowed per game (331.1). They are the only FCS team to have more than one player average over 100 receiving yards per game (Fotis Kokosioulis and Dequece Carter). Holy Cross, which is seeking to match the Patriot League record with a fourth straight title, is limiting opponents to a 53.3 completion percentage. To counter Fordham’s high-scoring offense (49.1 points per game, No. 2 in FCS), the Crusaders will mix in the pass and run with QB Matthew Sluka. Devin Haskins has blocked a punt in four straight games and teams with John Smith in a strong secondary. It’s uncertain if standout LB Jacob Dobbs will return from a three-game absence.
The Pick: Holy Cross
Northeast: Saint Francis (5-2, 4-0) at Sacred Heart (4-3, 2-1)
Kickoff: Noon (ESPN3)
Notable: Saint Francis is tied with Merrimack for first place in the NEC, allowing just 10 points per conference game. Red Flash QB Cole Doyle directs a safe offense that has 133 rushes to 65 pass attempts in the last three games of a five-game winning streak. Sacred Heart’s Marquez McCray has passed for 405 and 315 yards in the last two weeks – the highest totals in 26 career starts.
The Pick: Sacred Heart
CAA: No. 18 Rhode Island (5-2, 3-1) at No. 10 William & Mary (6-1, 3-1)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (Cox YurView/FloSports)
Notable: URI worked seven overtimes for a 48-46 win at Monmouth last Saturday. The Rams have averaged 492.3 yards in a three-game winning streak despite committing seven turnovers. W&M ranks fourth in the FCS in rushing yards per game (253.7). Safety Tye Freeland forced three fumbles at Towson – the FCS season high.
The Pick: William & Mary
Big South: Campbell (4-3, 2-0) at North Carolina A&T (4-3, 2-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Notable: Campbell’s four-highest carry and rushing yardage totals are in wins (averages of 49.3 carries and 225.5 yards) and three-lowest are in losses (33.3 and 116.3, respectively). N.C. A&T’s Jalen Fowler is coming career highs in passing yards (297) and TD passes (four TDs) against Robert Morris, while Bhayshul Tuten has 100+ rushing yards in a school-record six consecutive games (the most by a Big South player since Liberty’s Rashad Jennings had 10 straight games between the 2007 and ’08 seasons).
The Pick: North Carolina A&T
Pioneer: San Diego (3-3, 2-1) at St. Thomas (6-1, 4-0)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (TommieSports.com)
Notable: In a crowded PFL title race (five teams are 3-1 or better in league games), San Diego basically faces a must-win at St. Thomas, which has a 25-game home winning streak (eight on FCS level). USD defensive lineman Jacob Saewitz and Muhindo Kapapa have a combined 19.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. The Tommies have had a different rushing leader in each of the last four games, and it hasn’t even included overall rushing leader Shawn Shipman (419 yards, six TDs).
The Pick: St. Thomas
Non-Conference: Eastern Kentucky (4-3) at No. 15 Southeast Missouri (6-1)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
Notable: EKU QB Parker McKinney (2,100 yards, 19 TDs) has four receivers who are between 300 and 400 yards (UIW is the only other FCS team with four 300+ yard receivers).SEMO is the only FCS team with a QB who’s averaging 300+ yards of total offense (Paxton DeLaurent, 304.2) and a RB averaging 100+ rushing yards (Geno Hess, 119.6).
The Pick: Southeast Missouri
SoCon: No. 7 Chattanooga (6-1, 4-0) at No. 24 Furman (6-2, 4-1)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (Nexstar/ESPN3)
Notable: Chattanooga’s SoCon-leading defense has been at its best during conference play, allowing just 242.5 yards per game (75.3 rushing). RB Ailym Ford has 100+ rushing yards in each conference win. Two weeks ago, Furman’s Dominic Roberto was the FedEx Ground FCS National Offensive Player of the Week with 252 rushing yards and three TDs against Western Carolina.
The Pick: Chattanooga
SWAC: Southern (5-2, 3-1) at No. 9 Jackson State (7-0, 4-0)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
Notable: Jackson State will host ESPN’s iconic pregame show “College Gameday” before seeking to extend a 14-game winning streak against SWAC opponents (12 in standings). The FCS’ top-ranked defense is allowing just 190.3 yards per game (JSU’s Division I record is 207 in 1977) and 10.1 points per game. Southern dual-threat QB BeSean McCray has a 67.6 completion percentage, and it’s 74.1 with eight TDs in a four-game winning streak.
The Pick: Jackson State
Southland: No. 8 UIW (7-1, 2-1) at Texas A&M-Commerce (5-2, 3-0)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: UIW is No. 1-ranked in the FCS in points per game (51) and No. 2 in yards per game (564.8). QB Lindsey Scott Jr.’s 37 TD passes are the national high and his 220.6 passing efficiency is on pace for a single-season record in the subdivision. TAMC counters with the Southland’s top-ranked defense, while WR Andrew Armstrong has 100+ receiving yards in six of his seven games.
The Pick: UIW
Big Sky: No. 11 Montana (5-2, 2-2) at co-No. 5 Weber State (6-1, 3-1)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (Montana TN/KJZZ/ESPN+)
Notable: UM allowed on averaged just 211.5 yards and 9.3 points in its first four games, but it’s 401.3 and 27, respectively, over the last three games, including back-to-back losses. QB Lucas Johnson was knocked from the Sacramento State game with an injury, with Kris Brown (1,383 career passing yards) replacing him. In QB Bronson Barron’s three seasons, Weber State is 11-0 when he has a passer rating over 125 and 4-5 when he’s below it.
The Pick: Weber State
MVFC: Northern Iowa (4-4, 3-2) at No. 20 Southern Illinois (5-3, 4-1)
Kickoff: 3 p.m. (ESPN3)
Notable: Coming off a four-game homestand, UNI has been playing playoff elimination games since opening with a 2-4 record. RB Dom Williams just racked up 101 rushing yards and four TDs against Missouri State, but the Panthers go as QB Theo Day (TD pass in 19 straight games) goes. SIU has a nifty 34:43 average time of possession and will pursue Day with its pass rush (FCS-high 29 sacks, led by DE Richie Hagarty with 6.5).
The Pick: Southern Illinois
CAA: No. 12 Delaware (6-1, 3-1) at Elon (5-3, 3-2)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (FloSports/My48)
Notable: UD will be a different team if it doesn’t have QB Nolan Henderson, who injured his left non-throwing shoulder against Morgan State last Saturday. Still, the Blue Hens defense ranks among the FCS’ best in a number of key statistics, and LB Johnny Buchanan has three games of 15+ tackles. Elon, which has lost two straight games to nationally ranked teams, needs a three-game, season-ending winning streak to have a realistic chance of an FCS playoff bid.
The Pick: Elon
MVFC: Illinois State (5-2, 3-1) at No. 4 North Dakota State (5-2, 3-1)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (ABC ND/ESPN+)
Notable: Since 2005, NDSU has won its last 37 games after an open week in the schedule (regular season and postseason). Illinois State has dropped 11 straight games against the Bison and scored only two TDs (spring 2021 season) in the last four meetings. Wenkers Wright is coming off 36 carries for 180 yards at Indiana State – the Redbirds’ third straight win.
The Pick: North Dakota State
SWAC: Alabama State (4-3, 2-2) vs. Alabama A&M (3-4, 3-1) in Birmingham
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Notable: Legion Field will rock for the Magic City Classic. A&M has won 17 of the last 26 meetings despite being outscored by 10 points over that span. RB Donovan Eaglin has averaged 147.3 rushing yards over three straight SWAC wins on 6.6 yards per carry. ASU coach Eddie Robinson Jr.’s offense has struggled in an opponent’s red zone – its 56.5 conversion percentage (10 TDs, three field goals in 23 opportunities) is third-worst in the FCS.
The Pick: Alabama A&M
Big Sky: No. 14 Idaho (5-2, 4-0) at No. 2 Sacramento State (7-0, 4-0)
Kickoff: 9 p.m. (CW31/ESPN+)
Notable: Idaho boasts the FCS’ leading time of possession (36 minutes, 47 seconds) with efficient QB Gevani McCoy (16 TD passes to three interceptions) surrounded by excellent weapons and the defense helping the Vandals to a +11 turnover margin. Sac State has won 15 straight Big Sky games, benefiting by an official’s blown call late in regulation of a 31-24 overtime win over Montana. TE Marshel Martin has TD catch in five games this season, and the Hornets are 14-3 in his career when he has one.
The Pick: Idaho
Last Week’s Record: 8-5 (.615)
Season Record: 74-32 (.698)