(Stats Perform) – FCS victories over FBS programs are few and far between in a normal season, but in a limited fall schedule, Saturday’s six games really don’t appear to be ripe with upsets.
The FCS teams fall anywhere from roughly 20- to 40-point underdogs. The Citadel, which beat Georgia Tech last season, probably has the best chance of an upset in a visit to South Florida, but that’s probably it.
Despite the daunting schedule, the FCS teams can come away moving in the right direction even in defeat.
Here’s how (all times ET):
Eastern Kentucky (0-1) at West Virginia (0-0), noon (FS1)
Almost anything should be better than a 59-0 drubbing against Marshall, the most-lopsided Colonels’ defeat since 1931. In lacking explosion, the Colonels ran only 47 plays and gained 166 yards in coach Walt Wells’ first game. They’ll seek to get the run game going with Alonzo Booth and Quentin Pringle as well as quarterback Parker McKinney after surpassing 200 rushing yards in six of seven wins last season.
Campbell (0-0) at Georgia Southern (0-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
This is the first of Campbell’s four FBS matchups. Sophomore quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams is the Big South’s preseason offensive player of the year and his top wide receivers are back, but the run game is particularly important here. The Camels have to develop their running backs after losing last year’s top pair. Also, their defense needs considerable improvement against the run.
Austin Peay (0-1) at Pitt (0-0), 4 p.m. (ACC Network)
The defensive line, quite productive last year in the Governors’ best season ever, has to pick it up after having an underwhelming 1½ tackles for loss, including a sack, in a season-opening loss to Central Arkansas. A return of wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson would re-establish a dangerous duo with Baniko Harley and improve offensive balance.
Missouri State (0-0) at Oklahoma (0-0), 7 p.m. (PPV)
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) and debuting Missouri State coach Bobby Petrino (Lamar Jackson) have coached three of the last four Heisman Trophy recipients. The Bears hope to develop a high-level quarterback of their own with Southern Miss transfer Jaden Johnson. A strong performance will provide confidence for their growing team.
The Citadel (0-0) at South Florida (0-0), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Bulldogs’ triple option offense gobbles up game clock – an 8½-minute advantage on average last season – so it should get on track against a USF team that ranked 114th nationally against the run. On defense, a Chris Beverly-led secondary seeks to solidify after it struggled against the pass in losses.
Houston Baptist (0-1) at Texas Tech (0-0), 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
This is the first time HBU will face a Power-5 Conference program. With Huskies quarterback Bailey Zappe continuing to put up big passing numbers, the defense has to do better, having allowed a program-low 721 (360 rushing, 361 passing) in a 57-31 loss to North Texas. On third and fourth downs, UNT was a gaudy 14 of 20 against the Huskies.