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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | October 26, 2021

Predicting FCS football's 14 conference champions

Cooper Kupp’s top FCS playoff highlights at Eastern Washington

With four weeks left in the regular season for most FCS teams, conference championship races are heating up. There's no better time to predict conference champions than now as teams head into the season's final stretch. 

Here are all 14 conference champions, predicted the last week in October: 

AQ7 — Sam Houston

The defending champions have a 17-game winning streak, the best in the country. They should win out, taking the top spot in the newly formed AQ7. Sam Houston has a great chance to enter the FCS playoffs having won 21 straight games.

RANKINGS: See every FCS poll

Big Sky — Sacramento State

Eastern Washington's loss to Weber State creates chaos in the Big Sky. Montana State currently tops the standings with a 5-0 conference record. Sacramento State follows at 4-0 in conference play. Eastern Washington and UC Davis each have one conference loss.

Montana State still has to visit Eastern Washington and Montana; it is unlikely the Bobcats come away unscathed on the road. Meanwhile, Eastern Washington's offense and QB Eric Barriere should get back to form after Barriere threw for a season-low in passing yards in a loss. The Eagles should beat Montana State and UC Davis during the final stretch of the season.

After all the commotion at the top of the Big Sky, just Sacramento State remains. The Hornets end the season with a trip to UC Davis. If Sacramento State wins, the Hornets win the Big Sky. With a loss, Sacramento State will be tied with Eastern Washington at the top of the standings.

Without a head-to-head meeting between the Hornets and Eagles, the next tiebreaker is winning percentage. Eastern Washington, at 10-1, would get the bid. However, Sacramento State's momentum entering the season's final week on a projected seven-game winning streak will carry the Hornets to a Big Sky title for the first time since 2019.

Big South — Kennesaw State

The Big South's championship will likely be decided in the season's final week when Monmouth visits Kennesaw State on Nov. 20. Although Monmouth has won 13 straight conference games by double digits, the Hawks struggled outside the conference this season. Meanwhile, Kennesaw State holds an out-of-conference win over Jacksonville State, demonstrating how good the Owls are in 2021. With home-field advantage on their side, the Owls are good enough to win the Big South.

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CAA — Villanova

Villanova is undefeated in CAA play, holding wins over James Madison and Rhode Island. A season-ending trip to a downward spiraling Delaware may be Villanova's only remaining challenge, but the Wildcats may have clinched the conference by then.

Ivy — Princeton

Princeton is one of three undefeated FCS teams. The Tigers have already beaten conference opponents Columbia and Harvard, leaving Dartmouth as the biggest challenge left on the schedule. Princeton should win its first Ivy League championship since 2018.

MEAC — Norfolk State

Norfolk State has the best offense in the MEAC and it will carry them to a conference title. The Spartans lead the conference in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense, third-down offense and passing efficiency. Led by QB Juwan Carter, Norfolk State has defeated every opponent outside of the FBS. With a defense that has made timely plays, the MEAC crown heads to the 757 once again.

STAY GLUED: Keep up with scores and updates from the HBCU football season

MVFC — Southern Illinois

The Missouri Valley is always one of the most competitive conferences in the FCS. This year Southern Illinois will win the conference title. The other candidate in consideration was North Dakota State, but the Bison have a more difficult schedule than the Salukis down the stretch. Moreover, Southern Illinois and North Dakota State avoid playing each other. This should be enough that the Salukis stand at the top of the MVFC standings when the dust settles.

NEC — Bryant

There are currently four one-conference-loss teams at the top of the NEC: Bryant (3-1), Sacred Heart (3-1), Duquesne (2-1) and Saint Francis (2-1).

Saint Francis lost to Bryant and still plays Duquesne and Sacred Heart in consecutive weeks. Sacred Heart visits Saint Francis after a bye week, giving the Pioneers an advantage in that game. Bryant has already played every team with one conference loss, holding wins over Sacred Heart and Saint Francis. Duquesne is the only school that can hold a tiebreaker over the Bulldogs.

Duquesne's hopes rest with the health of quarterback Darius Perrantes. Without Perrantes, it's unlikely the Dukes get the win.

That leaves Bryant and Sacred Heart each finishing with one loss in conference play come season's end. Bryant wins the NEC, thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.

MIDPOINT: Top 9 newcomers in the season's first half | Top 9 HBCU first-half performances

OVC — UT Martin

UT Martin is undefeated in conference play, with the only loss this season coming to FBS competition. The Skyhawks have the talent to win out against a struggling OVC that has just one other team, Tennessee State, with a winning record.

Patriot — Holy Cross

Holy Cross has an FBS win over UConn and a win over then-No. 20 Monmouth. The Crusaders are the best team in the conference and should run away with the Patriot League championship.

STANDINGS: See the standings for every FCS conference

Pioneer — Davidson

Davidson, the preseason favorite to win the Pioneer League, currently sits first in the conference. Davidson already beat San Diego this season; that win gives the Wildcats room for error should they lose a game down the road. Even with one conference loss, Davidson still can take the conference's automatic bid thanks to tiebreakers.

SoCon — Chattanooga 

Chattanooga's head-to-head win over then-No. 10 ETSU has the Mocs first in the SoCon heading into the final few games of the season. With games against ETSU and VMI behind them, Chattanooga has a tiebreaker to win the conference. 

Southland — Southeastern Louisiana

Southeastern Louisiana has the reigning Walter Payton Award winner, QB Cole Kelley. This fall, Kelley has been on a tear once again; the 6-foot-7, 260-pound quarterback should carry the Lions to a Southland championship.

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SWAC — Jackson State

Coach Prime, better known as Deion Sanders, and Jackson State will win the SWAC. Jackson State already picked up a win over Florida A&M in Week 1, giving the Tigers firm control over the SWAC East. The path to the SWAC championship should be easy for the Tigers, given the remaining opponents on their schedule. 

Just one future opponent, Alcorn State, currently has a winning record. Alcorn State visits Jackson State in Week 12; if the Tigers were to lose, the two schools may meet again, two weeks later, in the SWAC Championship. With a top-10 defense in the FCS, Jackson State shouldn't lose to the same opponent twice in a season.

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