FCS Football Week 3 Breakdown

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FCS Football Week 3 Breakdown

A glance at the top of the Football Championship Series polls shows Appalachian State, William and Mary, Northern Iowa and Georgia Southern still occupy the top four spots, respectively, on the FCS Top 25.

That is about the only thing left over from the preseason polls.

Under these top schools, there is so much jockeying for position that predicting who will be where in the top 25 has become a game in itself. Teams that looked good in preseason (hi, Eastern Washington!) are dropping down the ladder multiple steps at a time. Meanwhile, surprise teams (that's you, Wofford!) are climbing the poll in huge jumps.

The Week 3 schedule still includes a few cream-puff games for some teams, but several top matchups also dot the schedule. Let's take a look at what the third week of the season offers for top contests. Note three of the top 10 teams (Northern Iowa, Georgia Southern and New Hampshire) are off this week. All times listed are Eastern.

NO. 10 CHATTANOOGA AT NO. 24 EASTERN KENTUCKY (6 p.m. Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond, Ky.)

This game could loosely be an I-75 rivalry, what with the proximities of Chattanooga and Richmond to the legendary interstate highway. From a purely football perspective, it is the best game of the week among the top 25 schools. Eastern Kentucky could give the Mocs a challenge considering this game is at Richmond, where the Colonels have averaged 217 yards rushing in a six-game home winning streak dating back to the start of 2010. Eastern Kentucky (1-1) has been downright stingy on defense this year, allowing no scores in the first half. If the Colonels can remain unyielding on defense this could be an interesting contest for EKU's chances to move up the top 25. Chattanooga (1-1) is coming off a 38-17 win over Jacksonville State, while Eastern Kentucky barely beat Missouri State 28-24 a week ago. Mocs quarterback B.J. Coleman is 42-for-66 for 470 yards and three touchdowns, and receiver Joel Bradford has been the beneficiary of Coleman's handiwork (19 catches, 209 yards, one TD). EKU running back Jeremiah Williams (119 yards, two touchdowns) and linebacker Ichiro Vance (19 tackles, one forced fumble) excelled against Missouri State and should be watched here.


NO. 12 MONTANA AT NO. 15 EASTERN WASHINGTON (3:05 p.m. Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Mont.)

That FCS Division I championship seems so far away now for Eastern Washington. After nearly knocking off Pac-12 power Washington in a 30-27 thriller, the Eagles (0-2) thudded following a 30-17 loss to South Dakota. EWU gets another chance to redeem itself in the Big Sky Conference opener. Montana has had some success this year. Following a 42-16 loss to Tennessee to open the season, Montana (1-1) rebounded for a 37-23 win over Cal Poly. Montana leads the overall series 25-11-1. Eastern Washington QB Bo Levi Mitchell is 77-for-129 for 842 yards and five touchdowns this year, but he's been picked off four times. Montana QB Jordan Johnson is the Grizzlies' all-purpose threat, having passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns against Cal Poly and run for 54 yards on 10 carries. Caleb McSurdy's 17 tackles, including five solo stops, will be difficult to overcome for Eastern Washington, so watch for the Eagles to avoid McSurdy's grasp as much as possible. Eastern Washington stopped Montana, 36-27, on the way to last year's national championship, so look for the Grizzlies to want some sort of revenge. Montana's previous losses came in 1997 and 2005.

NO. 14 JAMES MADISON AT NO. 18 LIBERTY (7 p.m. Saturday at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Va.)

A battle of two Virginia teams spotlights this top-25 matchup. Both teams sport identical 1-1 records; James Madison and Liberty both lost their season openers before recovering last week. James Madison beat Central Connecticut State 14-9 while Liberty scored a 38-7 win over Robert Morris. Liberty owns a nine-game winning streak at Williams Stadium dating back to September 2009, when they were beaten by none other than James Madison. The Flames, whose next win would be the 200th in program history, are averaging 48.9 points per game at home during this winning streak, so it could be a higher-scoring affair. Liberty had a strong defensive performance last week, holding Robert Morris to 234 total yards in its win. Look out for Liberty defensive back Kevin Fogg, who picked off two passes last week in the team's win. James Madison linebacker Stephon Robertson's 14 tackles aided the Dukes defensively in the win over CCSU, and running back Dae'Quan Scott ran 20 times for 135 yards and one touchdown. James Madison's rushing attack (342 yards against CCSU) may be on display here. The Dukes ran for 301 yards against Liberty two years ago.

TENNESSEE STATE AT NO. 16 MURRAY STATE (7 p.m. Saturday at Stewart Stadium in Murray, Ky.)

Murray State, the team many believe will win the Ohio Valley Conference, is ready to tackle its league foes following a 39-0 win last week at Mississippi Valley State. Luck is definitely on the Racers' side as they have beaten Tennessee State three games in a row and four times in the last six contests. Murray State (1-1) will put the ball in the hands of quarterback Casey Brockman, who scored three touchdowns in last week's win on the way to OVC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Brockman was 22-for-33 for 300 yards and one passing touchdown, and he also ran 13 times for 112 yards and two more scores. Tennessee State (1-1) saw quarterback Jeremy Perry pass 23-for-41 for 289 yards and three scores in a 35-29 loss at Jackson State a week ago, and running back Terrance Wright picked up 133 yards on the ground. The Tigers have dropped seven straight OVC contests, so this one could get ugly in a hurry if Tennessee State's luck continues to falter. Murray State won last year's meeting in November by a 28-23 margin.

NO. 22 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE AT INDIANA (3:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.)

The biggest reason to watch out for this game is simple. Indiana is among the lowest schools in the Big Ten in terms of winning percentage over the last several seasons. South Carolina State is the preseason pick to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Is a possible win in the cards for the Bulldogs? Keep in mind Indiana is 0-2 but its losses were 27-20 to Ball State and 34-31 to Virginia. The Hoosiers are losing by close margins, but that might not be enough of an incentive for South Carolina State to come in and win. Like the Eastern Washington-Washington contest, where the FCS team showed plenty of promise, this is another one of those games. Indiana quarterback Edward Wright-Baker (36-for-62, 443 yards, two touchdowns) has an edge over SC State's Derrick Wiley (19-for-45 for 124 yards and two interceptions), but SC State safety Christian Thompson and linebacker Joe Thomas have combined for three interceptions in two games.

Football Week 3 Breakdown Page