| October 17, 2013

FCS Notes: Southland supremacy on the line

Sam Houston State visits McNeese State on Saturday in a big Southland Conference matchup.

Both teams are 5-1 and won their league opener. The Bearkats have won the past two conference titles and McNeese State has already beaten Central Arkansas -– the team that shared the title with Sam Houston State last year -– on the road.  McNeese, which last won the conference title in 2009, has dominated the all-time series, holding a 24-9-1 advantage, including a 12-4 edge at Cowboy Stadium. Sam Houston has won the past two games in the series on its way to national runner-up finishes both years.

Central Arkansas will be without senior QB Wynrick Smothers, who saw his career come to an end when he broke his ankle in the third quarter of the Bears’ 31-0 victory against Nebraska-Kearney. Smothers, the 2012 Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year, finished his career fourth in school history in total offense and sixth in passing yards (5,477). This season, Smothers ranked second in the league in both total offense and passing yards per game.

Fordham chases history against Yale

Fordham started 7-0 for the first time since 1930 with a 34-12 win at Georgetown last Saturday, and will try to open 8-0 for the first time in the modern era when it visits Yale on Saturday.


After losing to McNeese State at home, D.J. Appe and his Central Arkansas Bears sought redemption against Nebraska-Kearney. Watch as they prepare for and take the field against the Lopers.

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Fordham’s only prior 8-0 mark was part of 28-0 season in 1886 where a number of the games were against local athletic clubs. Fordham reached its highest national ranking at No. 8 in both The Sports Network top 25 and FCS Coaches Poll, and debuted at No. 1 in the ECAC FCS Lambert Meadowlands Poll. The Rams are one of five remaining undefeated teams in the FCS.

Fordham junior quarterback Mike Nebrich and Lehigh senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis have been added to the Walter Payton Award watch list by The Sports Network. Nebrich stands in the top 10 nationally in six different categories, including first in the FCS in completion percentage and third in total offense, while Kurfis leads the nation in both overall and per game receptions and receiving yards.

Big matchup in the Big South

Fourth-ranked Coastal Carolina travels to Liberty on Saturday in the most anticipated Big South game of the season. It is the 11th meeting between the schools and the series is tied at 5-5. The winner of this match-up has won or shared the Big South football Championship eight times.

Coastal Carolina has allowed just 53 points in the second half this season -- an average of 8.8 points.  In the third quarter, the Chants have permitted just 17 points for an average of 2.8 points allowed.  Coastal has held its last two opponents scoreless in the second half.

The game will stream on ESPN3 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

All that -- and they play in the Ivy League

The Ivy League features some of the top dual-threat FCS quarterbacks in the nation this season. Dartmouth sophomore Dalyn Williams has thrown for 981 passing yards and rushed for 333 more. Brown senior Patrick Donnelly has thrown for 925 and run for 129. Yale senior Henry Furman has run for 822 and rushed for 125, Penn senior Billy Ragone has run for 750 and rushed for 59 and Princeton junior Quinn Epperly has passed for 482 and run for 172. 

Meanwhile, Cornell QB Jeff Mathews is now the Ivy League’s all-time leader in total offense yards with 9,255, passing the total of 9,236 yards by Brown’s James Perry from 1997-99.

OVC leading the way

Not only does the OVC feature the No. 1 ranked offense (Eastern Illinois) and defense (Tennessee State) nationally, OVC teams are also excelling on special teams.

The OVC has the No. 1 punter in the FCS (Tennessee Tech’s Chad Zinchini is averaging 47.9 yards/punt), and the No. 1 field goal kicker (Jacksonville State’s Griffin Thomas is averaging 2.3 made field goals/game).

Murray State WR Walter Powell and Eastern Illinois WR Erik Lora are tied for fourth in OVC history for career touchdown catches (28). They each have 12 receiving touchdowns this season (tied for first nationally) and are just four scores away from tying the OVC career mark.

Closing on a milestone

Montana State QB DeNarius McGhee enters Saturday’s game against Weber State with 9,840 career passing yards. He needs 160 passing yards to become the third player in Big Sky history to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in his career.

Quick hits

William & Mary, which has trailed for a total of only 28 seconds in its five FCS contests, boasts the nation’s top scoring defense in allowing just 11.8 points per game this season.

•North Dakota State has 15 con wins, setting a new MVFC record for consecutive victories, and the Bison have won a league-record 14 in a row away from home.

Walter Payton Award hopeful Kyle Harbridge is the first FCS rusher to exceed the 1,000-yard mark this season. Harbridge, a Saint Francis senior, has amassed 1,026 rush yards and 11 touchdowns in six games.

Wagner’s Dominique Williams (4,044) became the fifth active FCS rusher to reach the 4,000-yard milestone.