FBS and FCS Teams That Need To Win Now

It may be early in the 2017 season, but when you have a short season such as this, things can get away from you in a hurry. These are the FBS and FCS teams that need a win now, or else be exposed for a major unraveling of their season:

FBS


New Mexico and Boise State

I have them both listed together for good reason. Boise State is coming off of a major collapse last week against Washington State, and a loss drops them to 1-2, and increases their chance of getting locked out of the MWC title for a second straight season. For New Mexico, a black cloud exists that Bob Davie is unlikely to find his way out from in the form of a third party investigation into his program. They also are coming off a loss to New Mexico State, which is Davie’s second straight loss to the hated Arch Rival Aggies. Both teams are in dire straights with a loss here. They play each other tonight in Boise.

USF and Illinois

Again, I list two teams together that play each other this week in non con play. For USF, they are off to a rather uninspiring 2-0 start that includes sloppy wins over San Jose State and Stony Brook, which is hardly a murderer’s row of scheduling. They were the G5 darlings heading into the season, and have fallen well short of living up to those expectations. Illinois is off to another relatively slow start despite beating Western Kentucky last week. A loss here would indicate that Lovie Smith’s head just is not into this job, and he may be gone sooner than later.

U Mass

Mark Whipple’s team is now 0-3, and there seems to be no end in sight to the pain. They find themselves as a 14 point dog to a rebuilding Temple team this week, and I have no doubt that U Mass should drop to 0-4. With no conference affiliation, and no real interest in the program, it’s hard to see long term sustainability here.

Arizona

I have no doubt that the Wildcats should handle UTEP this Friday night. If they don’t, or the game is too close late in the game, it will indicate that the Wildcats are as bad as people think, and they will be highly vulnerable moving forward, and Rich Rodriguez could be in line for a firing. Of course, most of us believe that anyway.

Michigan

Certainly, Michigan has been a surprise story early in the season, as they are off to a 2-0 start with wins over Florida and Cincinnati. Despite the record, Michigan has shown serious flaws in their offense. Defense is seemingly carrying the day, but that only lasts so long before the walls cave in. Michigan should beat Air Force, but if they fail to cover a 24 point spread, people will start to worry.

Oklahoma State

Playing at Pitt is a trap game, and the Cowboys can ill afford another Central Michigan debacle. Oklahoma looks primed in the Big 12, and there is better competition coming up on the schedule. A loss to the Panthers on the road could be devastating long term.

UCLA

The Bruins vist Memphis Saturday morning, and more is on the line than you know. The Bruins had to rally against Texas A&M, as we all know, and the second half against Hawaii was less than fluid on defense. If the Bruins collapse in their first road test, and the defense caves in, the chants to fire Jim Mora will be back up in force.

Nebraska and Northern Illinois

The Huskers have been awful so far. They allowed a bunch of yardage and points to Arkansas State in the opener, and then found themselves down 42-14 at the half in a train wreck against Oregon, before they rallied to make it interesting in the second half. Tanner Lee is still a turnover machine at QB, as he was at Tulane, the run game lacks depth, and the defense is a sieve. They have to go out and pound down Northern Illinois this week, or the Big 10 season could get ugly very quickly.

For the Huskies, Rod Carey needs to make this game respectable, as the ranks of folks wanting his head on a platter are growing. NIU is 1-1, and lost a close one at home to open the season against Boston College. If NIU can keep it close and challenge here, he has something to build on heading into MAC play later this month. If they get blown out…

Texas A&M

The Aggies narrowly escaped Nicholls State last week in a 10 point win. Aggie teams of hold would have won that game by 50 or more. After the debacle with UCLA, and the lackluster win last week, could the Aggies be the worst team in the SEC West? They need a big win over UL-Lafayette this week to prove otherwise.

Others: U Conn, Virginia, Syracuse, Boston College, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Texas Tech, Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor,  Ohio State, Northwestern, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, BYU, Western Michigan, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona State, Florida, Missouri, South Alabama


FCS


Big Sky

Cal Poly, Eastern Washington

Both teams had some expectations coming in, but neither have won a game in 2017. They are a combined 0-5. Another loss for either team will basically have them frozen out of playoff consideration early.

Big South

Charleston Southern

The Buccaneers opened with a loss against Mississippi State, and are just 0-1, but they need a win in FCS play to prove that although Jamey Chadwell left as head coach, the program has not started to fall apart in his absence.

Colonial

Richmond

The Spiders started out as a top ten team, but are now just 1-1. If they fall in their next game, one starts to wonder whether or not they will be relevant in conference play or not.

MEAC

South Carolina State

The Bulldogs have been a major MEAC player recently, but lost their opener against Southern. It’s very early, but if early losses mount, the Bulldogs could fall out of the league race quickly.

Missouri Valley

Northern Iowa, Youngstown State

Northern Iowa and Youngstown State both have losses to FBS opponents, and both played fairly well. Each can maybe afford one more loss, maybe two, but that’s it. It would be bad to let those losses mount in September.

Northeast Conference

Duquesne

The Dukes were in line to compete for the NEC title in 2017, but a blowout loss to South Dakota State has me wondering how good or bad this team is. St. Francis and Sacred Heart look ready to pull away with the league title as things stand early in the season, so the Dukes have got to kick it up a gear.

Ohio Valley

Eastern Kentucky

The Colonels want to play FBS football, but how can we take that seriously when they start off the season 0-2? EKU played well against FBS member Kentucky last weekend, but the losses now have to stop at 0-2 against FBS opponents to stay in the conversation.

Patriot League

Fordham

The Rams have been a huge disappointment early on, as they got demolished by Army, but won last week to go 1-1. Fordham is supposed to be a power in this league, but they are currently averaging just 22 points per game.

Pioneer Football

The entire league is a mess, so picking any one team is difficult here. Not one team remains unbeaten in 2017, and traditional leaders like Dayton, San Diego, and Jacksonville all look rather rough right now.

Southern

Chattanooga

The Mocs have been a mess out of the gate, with losses to Jacksonville State and LSU under their belts. This team has a reputation of falling short of expectations, and this team is no different, even though those expectations were muted as they start under new head coach Tom Arth. Still, at 0-2, it may very well be desperation time.

Southland

Only Sam Houston State remains as being undefeated overall at 2-0 this fall. The rest of the league seems in flux, with several teams having lost to FBS members. Still, Central Arkansas and SE Louisiana are potential contenders who need to win now, and McNeese State losing to Nicholls State in league play was a major blow for the Cowboys.

SWAC

Anything can happen on any given day in the wacky SWAC. There remains not one undefeated team in the conference, and Jackson State is 0-2. The Tigers were supposed to compete this fall, but that has been difficult early with a massive loss to FBS member TCU. We should knnow more about all of these teams once we get into league play.

 

Friday Night College Football Preview

Here are some observations to look for in the three offerings in FBS football for this Friday night, 9/15/17. Theree are three games on the slate for this evening. They are as follows:

Game of the Night

Illinois (2-0) at USF (2-0)

What to Watch For, Illinois: The road tripping Illini have not exactly been a juggernaut for some time, and only have a handful of bowl trips in their history. Lovie Smith has not elevated the program like some thought that he would to date. The Illini passing game is a mess. Chayce Crouch starts at QB, and no number two is listed on the two deep. He’s just 24/44 passing, and the Illini are averaging just 126 yards passing per game with one score and two INTs.

They will depend on their run game to win tonight, as they are averaging 132 yards pr game on the ground, but even then, the offense of the Illini is hardly impressive. Mike Epstein is clearly the lead back, having rushed for 165 yards on the season. No other back has run the ball for more than 46 yards on the year thus far. The Illini are exceptionally thin at the skill positions offensively across the board.

Defensively, Illinois allows 221 yards passing per game, but is stingy against the run, allowing just 88.5 yards per game on the ground. LB Del’Shawn Phillips is the star, as he is averaging 11 tackles per game. Bobby Roundtree and Isaiah Gray, both freshman, have combined for five TFLs. Roundtree has collected three sacks on the year to lead the team. The Illini have forced three fumbles to date, and have created five QB hurries.

Chase McLaughlan is 3/4 on FG tries. The punting game has been less than stellar, averaging just over 38 yards per punt.

What To Watch For, USF: Everything starts and ends with QB Quinton Flowers, but even he has been off to a slower than normal start this season as teams are keying in on him more and more in the run game. He is completing just over 55% of his passes for 199 yards per game, with four TDs to one INT. It will be a war of wills with the Bulls run game, as they average 234 yards per game rushing, however, none of the Bull rushers have been big on blowing up the big play this far, with Darius Tice leading the way at just 4.26 yards per carry. Marquez Vales-Scantling will be the primary target for Flowers, as he leads the team with 10 receptions through two games.

Defensively, look for the Bulls to throw eight in the box and force the Illini to throw the football. The Bulls have allowed 207.5 yards through the air, but just 100.5 yards per game rushing.

How Should It Go: USF should force the Illini to go to the air, where they are not proficient. If the Bulls can avoid their slow starts they have faced this season in games one and two, USF should be able to build an early lead, and the Illini are not built to rally. The Bulls should take advantage of a fairly thin Illinois skill set depth chart tonight in Tampa.

The Rest

U Mass (0-3) at Temple (1-1)

This will be a game that you probably should not put aside anything you have to do to watch. U Mass is fairly awful defensively, allowing 213 yards passing per game, and 210 yards per game on the ground. Offensively, it’s all about the passing game for the Minutemen with QB Andrew Ford, and the best TE in college football that nobody knows in Adam Breneman. Breneman has averaged seven receptions per game this season, but has not seen the end zone once. Ford averages 275.7 yards passing per game. The run game is fairly terrible for U Mass, averaging just 91 yards per game.

Temple is in a rebuild mode, and are just three points away from being winless in 2017 after a 16-13 win over Villanova last week. The Owls were crushed in their opener at Notre Dame. QB Logan Marchi is moving the football, but has just two TD passes while averaging 259.5 yards per game. The Owls, who have always depended on power running, average just 82 yards rushing thus far in 2017. Temple has been vulnerable against the run, allowing 221 yards rushing per game, while allowing 283 yards per game through the air.

I still like Temple in this one, but if U Mass is going to be able to steal a game against anyone, this is their shot tonight.

Arizona (1-1) at UTEP (0-2)

The Wildcats were a mess on offense last week in a 19-13 loss to Houston, and if the Cats are going to depend on Brandon Dawkins to be their hero through the air, they will struggle. Dawkins is a run first QB trying to learn how to be a passer, and his errant throws were much for conversation last Saturday night. The Cats average just 154 yards passing per game, but allow 301 yards passing per contest, a huge differential. The Cats have been proficient on the ground, which is their strength, as they have averaged 329 yards rushing per contest this season. They allow171.5 yards rushing per game, however, and that could be a problem down the line.

UTEP is terrible. They were destroyed by Oklahoma in the opener, and were a mess against Rice last week in a 31-14 loss. While averaging just 10.5 points per game, they are allowing 49.5 points per game. Starting QB Ryan Metz is out for the Miners tonight, meaning Zack Greenlee gets the start most likely. The senior has more experience than anyone on the roster, but his production has been minimal since transferring from Fresno State. The Miners pass for just 148.5 yards pr game, while allowing 313.5 yards passing per contest. UTEP is the worst rushing team in the nation, averaging just 49.5 yards on the ground, while allowing 243 yards per game.

This should be a one sided affair with an Arizona team being able to do enough of the basic things necessary to walk away with a fairly easy win tonight, one of the few they can expect this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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