A pair of undefeated teams put conference title hopes on the line this week in FCS football action. In the Missouri Valley Football Conference, two teams try to avoid a loss that could put either team on the fringe of an at-large bid to the playoffs.
Here are the games we’re most excited to watch in Week 10 of the FCS football season.
No. 20 Dartmouth at No. 14 Princeton, 1:00 p.m. ET, TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia+ or NBC Sports Boston
This has to be one of the most anticipated Ivy League games in some time, especially for the Princeton Tigers (7-0, 4-0) and Dartmouth Big Green (7-0, 4-0). But what makes this matchup more enticing is the total domination both of these teams have had on each side of the ball.
Now, Dartmouth is able to put up points (35.3 per game, second in the Ivy League), but no one in the country has scored at the rate of the Tigers offense (50.7 ppg), which ranks first in the nation. Likewise, the two defenses are in the top five in FCS in scoring defense and top 10 in total defense. Dartmouth will hardly throw the ball so the key will be if the Princeton defense can stop the ground game of quarterback Jared Gerbino and running back Rashaad Cooper, who each had more than 100 yards rushing last week against Harvard. Princeton has allowed a player gain 100 yards rushing just twice this season.
Rhode Island at No. 6 Elon, 1:30 p.m. ET, WATCH
Even without Elon quarterback Davis Cheek and Rhode Island quarterback JaJuan Lawson, this game still has significant implications for the playoffs and a CAA conference that is still wide open.
The Phoenix (5-2, 3-1) bounced back from its loss against Delaware with a 38-28 triumph over Richmond. Now coming off a bye, Elon’s looking for the same kind of production out of dual-threat quarterback Jalen Green and running back Jaylan Thomas who combined for almost 250 yards on the ground against the Spiders. For Rhody football, the Rams (5-3, 3-2) are still trying to solve their offense. That will be tough to do in a marquee road game against a defense that has allowed double-digit points in just one home game this season.
No. 13 Illinois State at Northern Iowa, 2:00 p.m. ET, WATCH
Illinois State (5-3, 2-3) is just about through with an incredible stretch of difficult games. The Redbirds will have their final chance to pick up a much-needed win in a hostile environment against the Panthers (4-4, 3-2), who also badly need a win.
Running back James Robinson makes the Redbirds offense sing, but their inability to establish a ground game last week against the conference’s seventh-best rush defense in South Dakota State led to their demise. Robinson gained just 10 yards on 13 carries. He’ll have to come through against a team that allows on average 125 yards. The Panthers have the worst rushing attack in the conference, going against the second-best rushing defense in the MVFC, so expect quarterback Eli Dunne to sling it all over the field in this crucial November matchup.
No. 8 Wofford at Samford, 3:00 p.m. ET, WATCH
If you’re looking for a contrast in styles, you probably won’t find an FCS game that fits that bill better than this one. The Wofford Terriers (6-2, 5-1 SoCon) have been phenomenal all year on the ground while the Samford Bulldogs (4-4, 3-2 SoCon) live and die by their All-American quarterback.
Wofford ranks third in the country in rushing offense behind running backs Andre Stoddard and Lennox McAffee, both of whom could finish as 1,000 yard rushers this year. The Terriers rushing defense is also seventh in the nation. But that really doesn’t matter when Devlin Hodges is behind center on the other side of the ball. Hodges has been one of the best career passers in FCS history and will break Steve McNair’s passing record if he continues averaging 385 yards per game. Hodges is one of the most exciting players in FCS. On his Senior Day against a top-10 team, Hodges will want to ball out. He alone will be must-watch television against the best passing defense in the conference as he tries to will the Bulldogs to an upset.
Maine at No. 15 Towson, 4:00 p.m. ET, WATCH
Tom Flacco watched his team blow a lead against the Delaware Blue Hens last week, bringing the Towson Tigers (6-2, 4-1) into a four-way tie for first in the CAA. No time to rest on their laurels with another CAA first-place team coming into Johnny Unitas Stadium in the Maine Black Bears (5-3, 4-1).
Last week was the first time in a while that Maine had both its offense and defense working in a 28-9 win against Albany. Now, the Black Bears won’t blow any team away with offensive numbers, but its defense is best in the league, including third in passing defense which will be the unit responsible for slowing down Flacco and the Tigers offense. The Maine linebacking corps of Deshawn Stevens, Sterling Sheffield and Taji Lowe might be one of the best in the conference with 32 tackles for loss and 17 sacks combined this season.