Here is a quick look at Saturday’s game involving Top 10 FCS teams and teams from the Missouri Valley Football Conference:
TOP 10 MATCHUPS
North Dakota (1-0) at No. 1 North Dakota State (1-0)
NDSU won 34-9 in 2015 in the only meeting between the two rivals since the Bison joined Division I in 2004. In their D-I era, the Bison have a 74-3 record (.961) when allowing an opponent 10 or fewer points, including 58 straight wins since a 3-0 loss at Missouri State in 2010.
In his first career start against Butler last Saturday, NDSU’s Trey Lance posted the highest quarterback rating (352.2) of any player with at least 10 passing attempts in a game this season – in the FBS or FCS. Among FCS freshmen through Week 1, his six total touchdowns rank first and 301 yards of total offense are second best.
UND posted nine tackles for loss in its season-opening win over Drake. In 2018, the Fighting Hawks tied for third in the FCS with an average of 8.5 TFL per game.
Saint Francis (1-0) at No. 2 James Madison (0-1)
Since 2015, James Madison has played seven nonconference games at home during the regular season and won them all by at least 35 points. The Dukes have scored an average of 63.8 points in those games while holding their opponents to an average of 11.9.
James Madison has scored at least 10 points in each of its last 68 games since a 52-7 loss at Maryland in the 2014 season opener. Only Wofford (70) has a longer active streak in the FCS.
The Dukes, who won the 2016 FCS national title, have the most interceptions (66) in the FCS since the start of that season. Included are 10 interception returns for touchdowns, tying for the second-most overall in the FCS.
LIU (0-0) at No. 3 South Dakota State (0-1)
Long Island, a new member in the Northeast Conference, is playing its inaugural FCS game. The Sharks won 15 of their final 16 games on the Division II level, allowing fewer than 10 points eight times.
South Dakota State’s J’Bore Gibbs was held below 200 passing yards in his first career start against Minnesota last week. The Jackrabbits have failed to throw for 200 yards in five consecutive games, their longest such streak since failing to do so in six straight in 2012.
Of Cade Johnson’s 17 touchdown receptions last season, 12 were at home – the most by any FCS player in a single season since 2012. SDSU is 11-2 when Johnson has at least one TD catch in any venue.
Three of the top four active FCS players in career tackles are MVFC linebackers, led by the Jackrabbits’ Christian Rozeboom (376). Southeast Missouri’s Zach Hall (302) is second followed by Indiana State’s Jonas Griffith (281) and Missouri State’s McNeece Egbim (248).
Lindenwood (0-0) at No. 4 Eastern Washington (0-1)
Facing Division II Lindenwood for the first time, Eastern Washington seeks to improve on a 52-10 home record since its famed red turf debuted in 2010. The Eagles have the third-most home wins among all FCS programs in that span, including an 8-0 record last season.
Eastern Washington led the FCS in rushing yards per carry (7.3) during its national runner-up season last year, but the team managed only 2.1 yards per carry in its season-opening loss to Washington.
In the last 10 seasons (since 2010), Eastern Washington leads all FCS programs with 19 wins when tied or trailing after three quarters.
No. 5 UC Davis (0-1) at San Diego (0-1)
UC Davis has averaged 478.1 offensive yards under coach Dan Hawkins (since 2017), ranking sixth in the FCS during that time. The Aggies ranked 45th nationally the season before Hawkins’ arrival.
The Aggies were just 5 of 17 on third-down conversions against California in their opener, making them 24 of 70 (34.3%) in four losses since last season. They’ve converted at a 44.9% rate (71 of 158) in 10 wins.
Jake Maier was held to 173 yards passing in a season-opening loss to California, the second-lowest total of his career (164). Since the start of last season, UC Davis is 9-0 when Maier throws for 250+ yards and 1-4 when he doesn’t. He was one of three FCS quarterbacks to surpass 350 yards four times in 2018.
No. 6 Maine (1-0) at Georgia Southern (0-1)
The Black Bears’ 431 yards passing in the season opener were their most in a game since 2009 (468 against Rhode Island), and their 582 total yards were their most since 2013 (602 against Delaware). Maine has won 12 straight games when topping 500 total yards, dating to a 2005 loss at New Hampshire.
Chris Ferguson’s 41 touchdown passes since the start of 2017 are the second most of any active player behind Jake Maier of UC Davis (60). Ferguson has thrown for 300+ yards in each of his last two games after never doing so in any of his first 21 games with Maine.
Georgia Southern was limited to 98 total yards in a 55-3 loss at LSU last week; the only FBS team with fewer yards in a game this season was Tulsa with 80 versus Michigan State. The 55 points allowed equalled the most the Eagles have given up in the past 20 years.
Cal Poly (1-0) at No. 7 Weber State (0-1)
Among the 40 FCS teams that faced an FBS opponent in Week 1, Weber State was the only one to allow fewer than 20 points, losing 6-0 at San Diego State. The only FCS team to allow fewer points in a game this season is Kennesaw State in a 59-0 win over NAIA’s Point University.
Weber State running back Josh Davis was limited to 10 total yards in the opener after accounting for 37.2% of the Wildcats’ yards from scrimmage in 2018 (1,555 of 4,175). Only Wagner’s Ryan Fulse (50.5), Cal Poly’s Joe Protheroe (39.7) and Jacksonville’s Calvin Turner Jr. (37.3) accounted for a higher percentages.
North Carolina Central (0-1) at No. 8 Towson (1-0)
Towson won its season opener at The Citadel despite being limited to 28 points. The Tigers were 0-4 last season when held to 28 points or fewer, compared to 6-1 otherwise.
Reigning CAA offensive player of the year Tom Flacco was sacked only twice in the opener after being sacked 18 times in the final four games last season, losing three of them. He’s been sacked 37 times since the start of 2018, fifth most in the FCS.
Tigers kicker Aidan O’Neill drilled two field goals in the season opener to raise his career total to 55. If he matches last year’s 22 field goals, he would tie the FCS all-time record of 75 (Montana’s Dan Carpenter, 2004-07).
No. 9 Kennesaw State (1-0) at Kent State (0-1)
Since its program began with the 2015 season, Kennesaw State is 34-1 when leading a game after the third quarter. The lone loss was in the Owls’ only game against an FBS opponent - in last year’s opener, they fell to Georgia State, 24-20, after holding a 20-14 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Kennesaw State has posted the only shutout among FCS teams this season, beating Point University, 59-0, for its largest margin of victory. It was the Owls’ sixth all-time shutout win.
MISSOURI VALLEY MATCHUPS
Southern Utah (0-1) at No. 11 UNI (0-1)
UNI gained only 34 net rushing yards on 1.1 yards per carry in its triple-overtime loss to Iowa State. Each represented a low in the Panthers’ last 50 games.
Boosted by national special teams player of the week Matthew Cook’s 4-for-4 field goal kicking against Iowa State, UNI has made 59 of 69 (.855) attempts in its last 33 games. That’s second best among all FCS teams to attempt at least 20 FG in that span (since 10/15/2016) behind Cal Poly at .875
UNI is third in the FCS with 39 interceptions in the last three seasons (since 2017). Xavior Williams has the most on the team in that span with eight.
Dayton (0-0) at No. 14 Indiana State (0-1)
Indiana State plays the first of a school-record seven home games in one season. The Sycamores closed last season by winning its final two home games following a stretch in which they won only once in 11 games at Memorial Stadium.
Ryan Boyle had two interceptions in the Sycamores’ season-opening loss to Kansas after having just three all of last season. Only 1.5% of his attempts were picked off in 2018, sixth best among FCS quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.
Sycamores kicker Jerry Nunez is within reach of three school career records: PATs (86, school record is 87), field goals (40, school record 42) and points (206, school record 221).
Morehead State (1-0) at No. 16 Illinois State (0-1)
Illinois State was on the short end of time of possession in a season-opening loss at Northern Illinois. In the last two seasons, the Redbirds are 5-1 when holding a favorable time of possession and 1-5 when their opponent’s is higher.
NFL prospect James Robinson was limited to 16 rushing yards on 13 carries at Northern Illinois. Since the Redbirds’ most recent playoff game in 2016, the Redbirds are 0-5 when Robinson rushes for 40 yards or less.
The Redbirds defense has kept its last 14 opponents to under 400 yards of offense, the longest active streak in the FCS. Included among the opponents were two FBS programs and four nationally ranked FCS opponents.
Western Illinois (0-1) at Colorado State (0-1)
With eight all-time wins over FBS programs, Western Illinois ranks second to UNI (11) during the MVFC era (since 1985). Most recently, the Leathernecks defeated Northern Illinois (2016) and Coastal Carolina (2017).
Western Illinois averaged 34.5 points in 2017 road games when it went 6-2 away from Macomb to set a single-season program record for road wins. Since then, the Leathernecks are 2-5 on the road while averaging just 21.0 points.
In 2018, the Leathernecks had more receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,083) from running backs and fullbacks than any FCS team. In this season’s opener, running backs had 10 of their 18 receptions, including six by Clint Ratkovich.
Southern Illinois (0-1) at Massachusetts (0-1)
The Southern Illinois defense has surrendered an average of 487.2 total yards per game since the start of last season, eighth worst in the FCS. The Salukis have lost 19 of their last 20 games when giving up 500+ yards, including last week’s loss at Southeast Missouri State (529).
D.J. Davis rushed for 125 yards last week, his seventh game with 100+ rushing yards since the start of 2018. The only players with more 100-yard rushing games during that time are Montana State’s Troy Andersen (9), Cal Poly’s Joe Protheroe (9) and Wagner’s Ryan Fulse (8).
The Salukis have lost their last three non-conference games and have not endured a longer losing streak in non-conference play since dropping five straight between the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
South Dakota (0-1) at Oklahoma (1-0)
South Dakota has surrendered an average of 250.3 rushing yards on the road since the start of last season, ranked 112th in the FCS during that time. Oklahoma’s 354 rushing yards in a season-opening win over Houston were its most in a game since 2015.
Kody Case tied a school record with 11 receptions in the season opener after never previously having more than seven. The only FCS players to have more in a game this season are Alabama A&M’s Brian Jenkins Jr. and Northwestern State’s Quan Shorts with 12 apiece.
The Coyotes are 10-45 on the road since the start of 2010, easily the worst road record by any MVFC team in that span. They’ve given up averages of 37.2 points and 474.7 total yards in their last seven road games, going 1-6.
Howard (0-1) at Youngstown State (1-0)
Youngstown State did not commit a turnover in its season-opening win over Samford, something it did only once in 11 games last season. Those two games without a turnover are also the Penguins’ only ones since the start of 2018 in which they scored 40+ points.
Nathan Mays rushed for 90 yards on 13 carries against Samford for a 6.9 average. Youngstown State is 8-1 when Mays has averaged 5.0 or more yards per carry, compared to 4-9 when he plays and averages less than 5.0.
Mays was one of four Penguins to rush for at least 50 yards in the season opener. It was the third time since 2016 that they’ve had four players rush for 50+ yards; only six schools have had more such games in that span.