College Football

10 FCS games to watch in Week 1

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - Half of the large schedule of FCS games in Week 1 of the college football season involves subdivision teams taking on the larger FBS programs.

FCS versus FCS is equally important with the teams trying to establish a winning tone.

Here are 10 of the bigger games to watch over the extended Labor Day weekend:

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Thursday

Southern Illinois at No. 17 Southeast Missouri, 7:30 p.m.

Last year's "War of the Wheel" set a series record for total points as SEMO won 48-44. The 87th meeting won't be as high scoring defensive standouts if SIU defensive end Anthony Knighton and strong safety Jeremy Chinn and SEMO linebackers Zach Hall and Justin Swift have their way.

No. 6 Jacksonville State at Southeastern Louisiana, 8 p.m.

Jacksonville State coach John Grass says his offense has a problem: there's only one ball. Quarterback Zerrick Cooper threw for a school-record 32 touchdowns last year thanks to the FCS' highest-scoring receiving duo, Josh Pearson and Jamari Hester (28 combined scores).

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Saturday

Georgetown at Davidson, 1 p.m.

Two of last year's bigger surprises in the FCS are matching wills (as well as offensive and defensive lines). Davidson was No. 1 in the FCS in total offense and rushing and Georgetown ranked eighth against the run and 11th in total defense.

No. 11 Towson at The Citadel, 3 p.m.

Towson quarterback Tom Flacco showed off his running ability in last year's win over The Citadel, but the Bulldogs now have a pretty snazzy runner behind center in Brandon Rainey, who rushed for 529 yards in the final four games.

No. 25 Montana at South Dakota, 3 p.m.

The offenses may go up and down the field in the STATS FCS Game of the Week. Quarterbacks Austin Simmons of South Dakota and Dalton Sneed of Montana ranked sixth and ninth in the FCS, respectively, in total offense last season.

No. 21 Elon at No. 20 North Carolina A&T, 6 p.m.

This is the only season-opening game that matches two Top 25 teams, and Elon's Tony Trisciani makes his head coaching debut. His talented quarterback, Davis Cheek, won't want to pass at Aggies cornerback Mac McCain.

No. 9 Wofford at South Carolina State, 6 p.m.

The two South Carolina programs haven't met since Wofford captured their 2006 season opener. The Terriers ranked fifth in the FCS in rushing last season and return option QB Joe Newman and all five starters on the offensive line.

Mercer at Western Carolina, 6 p.m.

This Southern Conference matchup is the first of just two conference openers in Week 1 (also Prairie View A&M at Texas Southern in the SWAC). Mercer won 59-46 last season by overcoming WCU quarterback Tyrie Adams' school-record 545 yards of total offense.

Southern at McNeese, 7 p.m.

McNeese has 14 straight winning seasons, but last year's 6-5 record and fourth-place tie in the Southland Conference was a letdown, so it hired a new coach, Sterlin Gilbert, who was Eastern Illinois' offensive coordinator when Jimmy Garoppolo won the 2013 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award.

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Sunday

Bethune-Cookman vs. Jackson State in Atlanta, 3 p.m.

The 15th annual MEAC-SWAC Challenge will whet the appetite for the Celebration Bowl in December. The Battle of the Bands afterward will be just as hotly contested.

Updated August 28, 2019

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