Week 1 of the FCS spring schedule was a limited slate but featured notable moments like defending champion North Dakota State handling their business, FCS newcomer Tarleton State putting the beats on FBS New Mexico State and a bizarre theft situation involving Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders.
We’re now on to Week 2 of this unique spring season where more teams will be joining in on the action and as always, we’ll take a look at some games to keep your eyes on this weekend. Most of the action will be available regularly on ESPN+. Odds come courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
No. 3 South Dakota State (-7.5) at No. 14 North Dakota (Total 47.5)
Sat, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN+
The 86th meeting between these two Missouri Valley Conference rivals will feature a matchup of two top-15 teams looking to gain a foothold at the top of the conference as the season unfolds.
Despite struggling offensively in the second half, South Dakota State (1-0, 1-0 MVC) managed to sneak past Northern Iowa 24-20 last Friday night when running back Pierre Strong Jr. snagged a one-yard touchdown catch with just 19 seconds remaining to lift the Jackrabbits to victory. He finished the evening with 122 yards of total offense while the defense stonewalled UNI rushers to just 1.1 yards per carry on 25 attempts.
North Dakota (1-0, 1-0) successfully defended their 30+ year home opener win-streak last Saturday with a 44-21 pummeling of Southern Illinois. The defense was the story of the spring opener as they picked off Saluki quarterback Nic Baker twice and held star running back Javon Williams Jr. in check to the tune of just 29 yards on 13 carries. ND QB had a fine day in the stat column, tossing three touchdowns in the win.
No. 1 (-16.5) North Dakota State at Southern Illinois (Total 44.5)
Sat, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN+
The box score doesn’t really jump off the page, but top-ranked North Dakota State (1-0, 1-0 MVC) handled their business in a 25-7 victory over Youngstown State in last week’s season opener.
Taking over for Trey Lance at quarterback, new starter Zeb Noland wasn’t asked to do much, going 9-of-18 for 74 yards in the victory. Instead, the load was handled by running back duo Kobe Johnson and Jalen Bussey, who combined for 157 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. The Bison defense did their part as well, limiting the Penguins to just 3.1 yards per play.
That stinginess on defense doesn’t bode well for Southern Illinois (1-1, 0-1) who was just stifled offensively in the aforementioned loss at North Dakota.
No. 23 Tennessee Tech at No. 16 Jacksonville State (-12) (Total 54.5)
Sun, 4 p.m. ET om ESPN+
After having its game against Tennessee State postponed, Jacksonville State will hit the field for the first time this spring as 12-point favorites over Tennessee Tech.
JSU (3-1) enters its final season in the Ohio Valley Conference as one of few teams in FCS not completely rusty, having played a handful of games this past fall. Meanwhile, Tennessee Tech (1-0, 1-0 OVC) comes into Sunday’s matchup riding high after downing Austin Peay 27-21 last week. The Golden Eagles were opportunists in their spring opener, capitalizing off four turnovers and 13 Governor penalties to spring 17 points in the fourth quarter for the win.
This is the first top-25 matchup between the two OVC foes.