Week 2 of FCS football is loaded with big games. There are playoff rematches, cross-conference battles and more.
My top FCS games this week:— Stan Becton (@stan_becton) September 6, 2022
-No. 1 NDSU - NCAT
-No. 2 Montana - S Dakota
-No. 3 SDSU - UC Davis
-No. 6 Sac St - UNI
-No. 7 Mo St - No. 14 UTM
-No. 15 Jackson St - Tenn. St
-No. 20 Rhode Island - Bryant
-No. 22 W&M - Campbell
Which one is the GOTW? Find out Thursday @NCAA_FCS🍿
Yet, one game stands out above the rest when deciding upon week 2's FCS game of the week. It's a Thursday night football battle when No. 14 UT Martin heads to No. 7 Missouri State in a rematch of last year's first-round playoff game. Find out everything you need to know below.
Week 2 FCS game of the week
Missouri State's offense is led by quarterback Jason Shelley. Shelley got off to a solid start in week 1, passing for 266 yards and one touchdown while rushing for another. It wasn't the high-flying start of some of his contemporaries, but it was enough as Missouri State controlled week 1's contest early, jumping out to a 20-0 lead.
That has Jason Shelley flying under the radar for some out there, but let's not forget he was a preseason All-American by many outlets for a reason. Last year against UT Martin, he threw for three touchdowns. Shelley and elite wide receiver Tyrone Scott have yet to connect for a score this year and hope to finally get on the board this week. Moreover, Shelley's also a threat in the run game and will be a pivotal part of getting the Bears to average more than the subpar 2.8 yards per carry.
Defensively, Missouri State had a shutout performance in week 1 for the first three quarters and finished the game with seven sacks and two interceptions. The Bears only allowed one third-down conversion on 12 attempts, the third-best percentage in the country. Missouri State needs more of the same in week 2 against UT Martin if the Bears want to avenge their playoff loss.
You'd be remiss to talk about Missouri State and not mention their special teams unit, highlighted by All-American return man Montrae Braswell. He returned his third kickoff for a touchdown of his career in week 1; he adds a dynamic threat to another phase of the Missouri State's team.
UPSETS: See every FCS-over-FBS upset
UT Martin's offense can attack opposing defenses in multiple ways. Starting on the ground, running back Zak Wallace is one of the best in the Ohio Valley Conference. In week 1, he rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 20 attempts, averaging nearly seven yards per carry. If a team loads the box to focus on Wallace, quarterback Dresser Winn is more than capable of attacking through the air, as shown by his three opening-week passing touchdowns. Winn completed passes to seven different receivers, making it hard for a defense to key in on any one particular guy, despite wideout Colton Dowell being one of the best in school history. Together, Winn and Wallace lead the sixth-best total offense entering week 2.
RANKINGS: Check out the latest FCS rankings
Preseason OVC Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker John H. Ford II, leads UT Martin's defense into week 2's battle of top-15 teams. He led the team with 13 tackles (six solo) as fellow linebacker Rob Hicks joined him in the double-digit tackles club. With tackling machines in the middle, the Skyhawks also discovered that they have a ballhawk in the secondary. Houston transfer cornerback Shaun Lewis intercepted two passes in week 1 and now will be tasked with shutting down Tyrone Scott to follow up his debut performance. Elsewhere, UT Martin's defense can change the game on special teams, with two blocked kicks already under its belt.
In a week 2 full of high-profile games, Thursday night's UT Martin at Missouri State game kicks off the week on a high note. With a rematch, ranked teams and high-profile quarterbacks, this game has everything needed to earn the honor of FCS Game of the Week.