Six intriguing conference games in the FCS this week
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By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - It's the most wonderful time of the year …
Or so sing fans of their favorite conference races in the FCS. Some of the conference schedules heat up this week, and soon all of them will take over the action.
Here are six intriguing conference games to watch for Saturday (all times ET):
Howard (0-2, 0-0 MEAC) vs. Bethune-Cookman (1-2, 0-0) in Indianapolis, 3 p.m.
The Circle City Classic is an early showdown between the two teams that tied for second in the MEAC last season. The starting quarterbacks, Howard's Caylin Newton and Bethune's Arkevious Williams, have combined to win the first three MEAC offensive player of the year awards. A track meet could break out on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.
No. 24 Austin Peay (2-1, 0-0 Ohio Valley) at UT Martin (0-3, 0-0), 3 p.m.
This could be a trap game for Austin Peay, which gets its shot at Ohio Valley Conference champ Jacksonville State next week. The host Skyhawks, whose losses are against two FBS opponents and unbeaten Chattanooga, have stout running backs in Ladarius Galloway and Jaimiee Bowe. Austin Peay scored a school-record 78 points against Morehead State last week.
No. 11 Sam Houston State (1-1, 0-0 Southland) at No. 18 Nicholls (1-2, 0-0), 4 p.m.
It's a September to remember in the Southland Conference, where this is the middle of three straight Saturdays with heavyweight bouts. Sam Houston is seeking the offensive rhythm it had under two-time STATS FCS Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe. Nicholls, which has lost 11 straight times to the Bearkats, will pound the run.
Richmond (2-1, 0-0 CAA) at No. 20 Stony Brook (2-1, 0-0), 6 p.m.
With half of the 12 CAA teams in the STATS FCS Top 25 and four more receiving votes, neither team can afford to lose its conference opener. They probably won't lose the ball, as Stony Brook is plus-six and Richmond plus-five in turnover margin. After a breakthrough season last year, Stony Brook quarterback Joe Carbone is completing under 40 percent of his passes.
No. 17 Samford (1-2, 0-1 Southern) at Chattanooga (3-0, 0-0), 7 p.m.
The STATS FCS Game of the Week has an unexpected scenario because SoCon preseason favorite Samford is fighting for its conference and FCS playoff lives. The Mocs, who won only three games last season, have dominated the all-time series, including a win a year ago. Samford's Kelvin McKnight leads the FCS in receptions per game (10) and Chattanooga's Bryce Nunnelly is No. 1 in receiving yards per game (182).
Idaho (1-1, 0-0 Big Sky) at No. 21 UC Davis (2-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
If you've wondering how good Idaho is in its drop-down campaign from the FBS, you're not alone. Idaho is playing a Big Sky game for the first time since it beat Boise State (yeah, Boise State!) on Nov. 18, 1995. Coach Paul Petrino has rotated two quarterbacks, his son Mason and Colton Richardson, with comparable results. Talk about a balanced defense: UC Davis boasts nine players who have between 10 and 15 tackles, and 22 players with at least five stops.
Updated September 19, 2018