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College Football Spring 2021 (FCS focused)


Future EA Sports College Football addict.
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And here are some polls:



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NAIA is great option if you want to live in worst places in the country and get a degree worth less than the paper it's printed on. Your point about an easier transition is valid, though.
NAIA schools are not monolithic. Some of them are in beautiful locations....and others are...in Iowa and Kansas. And there are plenty of academically strong institutions in the count.


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Tomorrow night's Southern @ Alabama State @ 5pm MT is still on.

I'd like to shine a spotlight on the SWAC in this post.

Predicted order for SWAC

  1. Alabama A&M 83 (13)
  2. Jackson State 63 (3)
  3. Alabama State 61 (2)
  4. Mississippi Valley State 40
  1. Southern 77 (8)
  2. Grambling State 70 (4)
  3. Prairie View A&M 65 (4)
  4. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 34 (1)
  5. Texas Southern 28 (1)

Given that Jackson State was the superior team in their recent game, I wasn't able to really nail down the type of offense they were running but I'm going to say it was a vanilla offense just like FBS P5 teams would do when playing FCS teams. Southern and Alabama A&M were #2 and #3 when it came to scoring points in 2019 behind Alcorn State.


It is no surprise Texas Southern & MVSU got picked for last place in their divisions. I think the Deion hype has Jackson State ahead of Alabama State. The West should be a little more exciting with PV A&M and Grambling State to give Southern a run for the West title. Total offense stats on the left and its defensive counterpart is on the right.



Link to the SWAC stats: https://swac.org/stats.aspx?path=football&year=2019


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The West could be anyone's game (besides TxSU). UAPB is likely a bit behind the others traditionally in the last decade, but even they have the firepower to win it. Probably going to be one of the most entertaining things out there. It's a shame that COVID is preventing the bands from traveling.


Future EA Sports College Football addict.
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The West could be anyone's game (besides TxSU). UAPB is likely a bit behind the others traditionally in the last decade, but even they have the firepower to win it. Probably going to be one of the most entertaining things out there. It's a shame that COVID is preventing the bands from traveling.

I believe it since I saw some of those numbers.

Talked with a Southern fan on Reddit and I found out that Southern ran the triple option out of the shotgun which is my type of football but they got a new OC so who knows how they will do in that case.


Future EA Sports College Football addict.
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@Jalapeno , I'm impressed with how closely you're tracking spring football. in past years, did you follow the leagues below FBS this closely?

I didn't follow FCS football this closely in past years but the interest has been there for awhile. Watching Sun Belt football last fall especially with some former FCS teams in that conference increased my desire to watch FCS football plus I would be able to identify more triple option based teams (have a thread for that).

The earliest I recall watching FCS football was when Randy Moss helped lead Marshall to their last I-AA National Championship and at that time Jim Tressel was coaching Youngstown State to four I-AA championships which led to a rare move by Ohio State to hire a coach from the I-AA ranks.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to watch other conferences & rethink who I watch, how I watch football games, and when I watch those games. With Norte Dame joining the ACC for one season, it was a good time to watch the ACC. The Sun Belt Conference was another conference that benefited in this case thanks to their ESPN+ contract. I have watched the P5 conferences for 30 years and with the evolution of determining the national championship from the traditional bowl system to the BCS system to the current CFP; FBS football has lost some of its appeal to me. I have been thinking about just going with OTA (over the air) channels that I get from my Xfinity internet only plan plus ESPN+ only and this spring is a good test of that. I was able to watch re-runs of those ESPN+ games this week and the nice thing is that don't have to schedule your time around football games like you used to. Like the conferences themselves, I'm doing a realignment of how I consume college sports and it has been underway since last fall with football as the primary focus. With the upcoming changes to college athletics with new NIL legislation at the state and federal levels, there is this great unknown how things will shake out.


Future EA Sports College Football addict.
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Southern wins 24-21. They didn't show much of an option running attack (new OC who knows) but their QB Ladarius Skelton (#8) is a dangerous weapon running the ball. Samford's Chris Oladokun (#2) is another dual threat QB in an Air Raid type of offense. His rushing yards at ETSU doesn't look impressive but he can really move the ball on the ground.

@Finest: Tonight's game was full of some mistakes on both sides but the SWAC has me interested in watching the rest of the teams from that conference. I'm not so sure about the MEAC and that is a conference in turmoil right now.

SDSU @ UND is one game I'm going to watch and FCS Redditors have mentioned SE Louisana @ Sam Houston State as a potential game of the week so I'm going to watch that one. I'm going to keep looking at the other MVFC & SoCon teams and pick up what the Big Sky teams are going to be like. Like with the SWAC, the SoCon intrigues me.

I'm still mind blown how much I'm getting out of that $5.99 monthly ESPN+ sub and I'm going to go after an annual subscription which is $59.99 which is basically $5 a month. You got most of FCS football, you got eight Big 12 schools, Sun Belt, WAC, MAC, and the AAC. You have all of those other college sports including lacrosse in the spring.


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I went through quite a few FCS games on ESPN+ and it has been a wild day so far just like you would find on some Saturdays in the fall. NDSU went down at SIU and UND beat SDSU. What a day to be an UND fan it seems. I'm going to have to dedicate specific days for specific conferences when I see those replays (I don't watch the full games because I'm more interested in learning the schemes of those teams and trying to get a feel for those conferences.

I'm watching SUU-NAU right now and will be watching the EWU-Idaho & Weber-ISU games coming up at 4 pm MT. The SUU-NAU game has a rivalry trophy and it seems bittersweet since SUU is headed to the WAC next year. The game had its exciting moments so far. I think I'm becoming a fan of those dome based teams and so far NAU stands out as the school with the best lighting thanks to its roof. I think if an UNI game is played in the middle of the day, the UNI Dome should get similar lighting results.

While typing, NAU knocked the ball out of SUU's QB deep in the redzone and NAU returned the fumble to midfield. Momentum switch and let's see if the Lumberjacks score off that turnover. Oh wait they are reviewing the fumble. SUU retains the ball and the call is controversial. SUU gets the ball back and it's the end of the 3Q.

I love college football saturdays even if it's in late winter and spring. Outside of CU football and some good FBS game of the week games, I can see myself going the ESPN+ & FCS route going forward.


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NAU scored the winning TD with no time left to beat Southern Utah! That was another fun game to watch. Now on to the famous Kibbe Dome!


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LOL @ that D2 return for a TD. Wish the RMAC schools would actually play and the same for UNC. Teams and conferences not playing this spring is really blowing a huge opportunity to recruit new fans. I think UNC should have opted for that regular Big Sky schedule that the others played today. And they have not announced their modified schedule for this spring. I have to wonder about potential recruiting fallout for those schools that opted out.

SE Louisana vs Sam Houston fireworks show is on. SHSU leading 40-31 with 14 mins to go in the 4Q.

$7.99 per month to watch the CAA. I think that is a decent deal for once conference and that is what I hope the Pac-12 does but it's unlikely.

Question for Big Sky watchers: where would I watch the replays of those football games? I don't think Pluto TV would allow that so it might be found elsewhere. There's channel 752 on Pluto TV but it's a random choice of old Big Sky events instead of on demand. (answered below)

Never mind: You can do this from the Big Sky website FOR FREE.

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SHSU beat SE LA 43-38 and it was a fun game to watch that went a little over four hours. Both offenses are explosive and I saw a glimpse of Nichols scoring points like crazy against Lamar after trashing a D2 school 87-3 (not a mistype). That SHSU QB #3 appears to be a legit dual threat QB and I'm going to have a list sooner than later. Since this is the last season of the current Southland configuration, that could just go out with a bang.

I said earlier that I think I'm falling in love with those dome teams of the MVFC and Big Sky conferences. This was the first time in a long time I watched a game at the Idaho Kibbie Dome and that was the first one after the most recent renovation where they put in white translucent windows on the sides. That really made a world of difference compared to what I saw at Idaho State's dome. NAU's Skydome falls somewhere in the middle of those two when it comes to the lighting of the stadium. UNI does have something translucent in their roof to let light get through. The three Dakota school domes are fully enclosed without anything translucent on the roof. Idaho State is due for renovations to the roof of their dome unless they decide to build a new stadium and with COVID-19, those plans certainly has been kicked further down the road.

Speaking of stadium renovations, EWU is fundraising for a major renovation where the track will be removed and it looks like they will have all new stands.

The Ohio Valley Conference will be playing their games on Sundays. I will check that conference at some point next month but that conference appears to be a notch below the MVFC, Big Sky, SoCon, Southland, and CAA.

This coming week, I will focus on one conference at a time when I do those ESPN+ re-runs. I will discuss each conference at a time, rank the teams, and mention some notable players plus describe what each team does offensively & defensively.


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Sunday February 28 OVC Games

SEMO @ Eastern Illinois
Tenn-Martin @ Murray State
Tenn State @ Austin Peay
Tenn Tech @ Jacksonville State

Thursday March 4

South Dakota @ North Dakota.

Friday March 5

Albany @ New Hampshire.

Saturday March 6

Maine @ Delaware
Villanova @ Stony Brook
ETSU @ Wofford
SIU at Youngstown State
Presbyetrian @ Gardner-Webb
SCSU @ Howard
Samford @ Furman
VMI @ Western Carolina
Jackson State @ Grambling
William & Mary @ Richmond
Chatoonga @ The Citadel
Idaho State @ Southern Utah
Arkansas Pine Bluff @ Southern
NDSU @ Missouri State
MS College @ Tarlenton
UC Davis @ Idaho
Weber State @ Cal Poly
Incarnate Word @ Lamar
Dixie State @ NMSU
Illinois State @ UNI

McNeese @ SE LA
Nichols @ NW State
Alabama A&M @ MVSU
Texas Southern @ Praire View A&M

I bolded the games that I think could be interesting to watch. I might be missing some stuff because I'm still drinking from the FCS firehose.

The only Dakota school that UND seemingly didn't have a rivalry with all these years was with SDSU. Based on their recent games, I think one could be brewing this decade. USD-UND is another Dakota on Dakota violence event to watch this Thursday.

Samford is an Air Raid type team going against a flexbone based offense and Samford didn't have much luck against a similar team last week at Wofford. But Samford's QB could be worth looking at.

Prime Time State versus what has been one of the top SWAC teams for awhile.

Coach Orange Slices returns to Idaho after that stint at Boise State. Hope the Vandals crush those Aggies.

NMSU got whipped by Tarlenton who is moving up from D2. Dixie State, another D2 team making the move up, beat Tarlenton. Could NMSU go 0-2 against D2 teams? If so, time to send that school down to FCS like Idaho did.

NAU was an exciting team to watch against Southern Utah and EWU lost a tough one at the Kibbie Dome. A word of warning: EWU just replaced that red turf with a new red turf. Be sure to take precautions before watching the game on that red turf.

Illinois State seems to be one of those better MVFC teams and UNI has that tough defense that just shut YSU out on the road. I'd say UNI has the best defense in the MVFC based on what I have seen so far.

Texas Southern and PV A&M has a rivalry. PV A&M isn't that far outside Houston while TSU is in Houston. Both play in pretty new stadiums.


Future EA Sports College Football addict.
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I believe I have watched enough MVFC to get my initial MVFC rankings in.

1. North Dakota

This is a fun team to watch and they are not afraid to take some risks with a fake punt that I was impressive. The Fighting Hawks isn’t the only team in the MVFC to have a two QB rotation but one is more of a passer while the other is a bruiser type of running QB. The defense has done a nice job forcing turnovers this season. They have shown that they can play in this conference with wins over SIU and SDSU.

2. South Dakota State

The Jacks have opened with two road games so far since they are the only Dakota team who doesn’t play their home games in a dome. The Jacks use on QB who has a some good targets to throw to especially the TEs who lines up everywhere on the field not in the backfield. The Jacks have a decent to good defense. They might have lost at UND but their win at UNI is still impressive.

3. Northern Iowa

The Panthers have the best defense in the MVFC and it’s not that close. They run that 4-3 defense that has a rover position. The offense is about average but those Panthers have usually been NDSU’s toughest challenger. They also have the longest tenured coach in the conference as well.

4. Southern Illinois

What a comeback for the Salukis. They get beat at UND due to turnovers and lose their starting QB to injury. They proceed to beat NDSU at home. NDSU’s two TDs were a first half Hail Mary pass and a TD in garbage time. I like SIU’s scheme where they use not only two QBs but they have three good RBs. The bruising RB lines up as the wildcat QB and he can run through some defenders. The other two RBs are more of the quick types. They have at least one good WR as well. The defense is decent to good.

5. North Dakota State

The Bison has been dominant in the MVFC but losing Trey Lance seems like a bigger hit than initially thought. The offense looked good at home against YSU but it could be the Penguin defense wearing down due to a poor offense. The Bison defense is decent to good but when the offense turns the ball over like it did at SIzu, that can be a killer. NDSU also lost a RB to a knee injury against the Penguins so his loss might be bigger than it appeared. They seem to be missing an “it” factor and maybe that it factor actually went to UND.

6. South Dakota

They are a lucky team because Illinois State turned the ball over 7 times which helped the Coyotes win in Carbondale. There could be a good argument to rank Illinois State ahead of the Coyotes despite losing to them because the Redbirds might be the most athletic team in the MVFC but it doesn’t matter if you keep turning the ball over. We will find out more about the Coyotes when they visit UND this Friday.

7. Illinois State

That was brutal. The Redbirds turned the ball over seven times and didn’t get blown out. What should hurt more is that the South Dakota freshman starting QB grew up two miles away from the Redbirds football stadium. Now that’s pouring salt in the wounds. The Redbirds defense seems to be a good one but any defense will wear down during a game if the offense turns the ball over . The Redbirds could bounce back like the Salukis did. We’ll see about that.

8. Missouri State

Ranked here by default. The production quality by the camera crew at Western Illinois was so bad I couldn’t watch the game but the Bears won and that’s what counts. They get priority from me in their next game.

9 Western Illinois

The Leathernecks showed some explosiveness on offense but I’m going to have to watch them another time due to poor TV production.

10. Youngstown State

The Penguins is a run heavy offense and they use two QBs like some other schools in this conference did. They went against that strong Panthers defense this weekend and they played at NDSU the prior week so they might not be the worst MVFC team this spring. The Penguins defense looks like it could be good but its hard to overcome a subpar offense.

My take on the MVFC

It’s going to be fun following UND since it’s their first year in the conference. NDSU & SDSU are good teams while the jury is still out on USD due to a seven point win despite Illinois State gifting them seven turnovers.

UNI is a good team, SIU responded very well to what could have been a deflating loss at UND by beating NDSU. I like the offensive scheme the Salukis run since it’s not too far off how I run my video game football schemes. Illinois State has to respond or it will be a tough season for the Redbirds. Western Illinois is probably the weakest team of the Illinois schools. Just take a good look at the map and you will see why SIU & Illinois State would have more superior athletes.

Missouri State has Bobby Petrino and the Bears could be fun to watch at some point. I’m trying to figure out why YSU is no longer the powerhouse it once was. Indiana State opted out this season and I don’t think anyone has really noticed they are not there this spring.


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Was doing a search on Holt Arena (Idaho State) and found this old photo of that dome being under construction.



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Some notable performances that were thought to be only possible with video game football:



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My initial Big Sky rankings.

1. Weber State

Some talk of them as National Championship contenders. They were off to a slow start until an Idaho State turnover sparked the Wildcats and they scored 42 points in 1 1/2 quarters. It's hard to tell how good the Wildcat defense is when they went against a QB who wasn't a good passer at Wyoming.

2. Idaho

Big win over EWU and they were able to pressure that EWU QB. Vandals QB is a transfer from UConn and he just needed to settle down and get things going. We'll see more about him in the coming weeks.

3. Northern Arizona

Big win over Southern Utah in a rivalry game. Offense seems capable but pass defense could be an issue after giving up those TD passes.

4. Eastern Washington

Hyped QB but he was pressured by the Vandals and the defense is okay. That QB will get his chance against that NAU defense at home but that OL needs to keep his jersey clean and he

5. Southern Utah

Pass heavy offense with the QB throwing for 5 TD passes but that costly interception in a rivalry game. They will face the Lumberjacks again at home later in the season. If your QB throws for 5 TDs and you can't win the game, that means the defense has issues. The good news is that Idaho State comes to Cedar City next and we will know more about the defense.

6. Idaho State

That Wyoming transfer QB was known to not be that good of a passer and will need another game to get in sync with his new receiving corps. That means the other Bengals QBs are just not that good. I think the Bengals have a decent defense but when the offense keeps going three and out or turning the ball over, it's going to snowball on the defense like it did in the 2Q & 3Q.

UC Davis and Cal Poly had their game postponed so they will be left out of the rankings. UC Davis is going to have to be ready for Idaho while Cal Poly hosts Weber State.


Future EA Sports College Football addict.
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Just imagine if I still had the late teenage & early 20's type of energy instead of my early 40s self.


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The Southland Conference appears to have some of the top offenses in the FCS. That SE LA-SHSU game was a firework display.

1. Nicholls State

It's amazing how times change. When they visited CU, they weren't that good of a team. Now they are the top Southland team who won the conference title in 2017 & 2018. The Colonels run more of a RPO/option scheme out of the shotgun and they know how to score points in bunches and they have a good dual threat QB who is a transfer from Missouri. The scored 87 against a D2 team...impressive. The defense is good enough to get the ball back to that offense. Just wait until they play SHSU next week!

2. Sam Houston State

The Bearkats have quite the offense but they don't appear to have a defense after playing SE LA this recent weekend as one of the FCS games of the week.

3. Southeastern Louisana

Just read the comments above about SHSU.

4. Incarnate Word

Wasn't able to find the ESPN+ replay...maybe it wasn't on ESPN+ but they beat McNeese.

5. McNeese

Here by default and I haven't seen any indication that they are at the level of the top three at this point.

6. Northwestern State

I have not been able to see them play so I'll leave them in this spot by default.

7. Lamar

While watching the Lamar-Nicholls game, there was a graphic showing 51 freshmen as opposed to about 35-40 sophmores to seniors so this is a young team. The head coach is a former Air Force quarterback who is installing an option based flexbone offense and with that combination, that loss to Nicholls wouldn't be unexpected. I'd want to check this team out one or two years down the road when they are in the WAC.

The remaining Southland teams aren't playing this spring since they played last fall while the seven teams above opted to play this spring instead. My next task with the Southland is to watch UIW, McNeese, and NWSU so I have a much better idea of who is the best to the bottom this spring. It's a shame that some of those schools are going to the WAC next season but that's life and the Southland has a good history that they should attract some good D2 schools if necessary but it'll be hard to replace some of those members and that is what the SoCon is realizing after losing Appy State and GA Southern recently. Same idea with the MWC not being the same without Utah, BYU, and TCU.

The intra-conference schedule doesn't look too exciting after the upcoming Nicholls-SHSU clash in two weeks. Check back later on the final weekend on April 10th for SELA @ Nicholls. SHSU plays McNeese and I am ignoring UIW because I don't know anything about them.


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If you haven't noticed, College Football News is doing predictions for FCS football.