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Week one of the college football season, we were taught to #FearTheFCS. In week two, I would bet more on an #FCSBeatdown.
Austin Peay at Vanderbilt
6:35 p.m. CST
There are three ways to schedule your non-conference campaign. You can schedule teams to help you get ready for conference play. You can play opponents that might help you earn a FCS playoff spot. Or, third, you can take the Austin Peay route: Since we're already exploiting those college kids anyway, let's play a series of uncompetitive games that our fans will hate, won't give our players a serious chance to grow, in an attempt to make as much dough as possible.
This week, the Governors money tour takes them to Nashville, to face a Vanderbilt squad that vomited up a late lead (too soon?) in an opening week SEC loss to Ole Miss.
Some would argue with my earlier claim that these games don't give players a great chance to grow, but think about this: In a standard, competitive football game, college football teams generally run between 60-75 plays, depending on tempo of course. In their week one loss to Tennessee, Austin Peay ran just 53 offensive plays, gaining 211 yards of total offense. On the other side, the Volunteers ran the ball 52 times for 315 yards. The offense isn't getting many repsm — or a real opportunity to open up the playbook — when you earn 11 first downs. The defense is getting reps, sure, but what do you learn when you're clearly overmatched, and 70% of your opponents snaps are just keeping the ball on the ground?
There were some small bright spots from the Governors opener. Special teams, an emphasis of new head coach Kirby Cannon, were fairly solid. The offensive line only allowed two sacks, which is really good considering the SEC opponent. Andrew Spivey remains at the top of Austin Peay's depth chart at QB, after an 11-22 performance in the season opener.
Vanderbilt's problem in week one wasn't moving the ball. 426 yards of total offense against a conference opponent is solid, but the Commodores couldn't stop the Ole Miss passing attack, something I wouldn't expect to be a problem in week two.
Despite being separated by just half an hour, this is the first meeting before the schools. In fact, until this year, Austin Peay had never faced a single SEC opponent.
I miss those other 76 years...
AUSTIN PEAY WILL WIN IF — We're talking about the Game of Life. I mean the board game. Vandy grads do pretty well in the real one.
VANDERBILT WILL WIN IF — The sun rises.
Tennessee State at Florida A&M
1 p.m. CST
Offense, optional. Florida A&M might have lit up the scoreboard, relatively, in their opening week, but only gained 310 offensive yards. Tennessee State: a cool 248. Ooh boy.
TSU quarterback Michael German will sit out his second, and presumably final game of the season, meaning Ronald Butler will get another start behind center. If last week was any indication, expect more conservative play calling, and a whole lot of runs up the middle. Exciting football, in other words.
The especially concerning part isn't the lack of yards: that's fairly expected when you've got a young quarterback. But three drives made it to the red zone, and all three for the Tigers ended in a field goal. When you get deep, you expect your running game to generate touchdowns. At least one. At some point. German will provide more of a threat in the backfield, and could loosen up defenses when he returns next week, but when you're near the end zone, eight-man fronts are not an excuse.
That being said, Butler was fairly solid. He made the most out of the few drop-back opportunities he got, and while there were a few dump-down passes, he finished 13-21, and most importantly didn't turn over the ball.
For you band enthusiasts, there's good news; Florida's A&M band will be on the field for halftime. Not that Tennessee State's is all that shabby, mind you.
As for their football team, the Rattlers defense was the real star of their opener. Mississippi Valley State was held to just 224 yards, and 9-26 passing between two equally ineffective quarterbacks. Their offense, as mentioned above, isn't especially scary on the ground or in the air, but won the turnover battle, and somehow survived 15 penalties for 160 yards, including an almost incomprehensible four delay of game penalties.
TENNESSEE STATE WILL WIN IF — Michael German sat out a backyard game this weeks that counts towards his suspension.
FLORIDA A&M WILL WIN IF — They pick off three passes for the second straight week.
Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin
11:00 a.m. CST
Sigh. More FCS versus FBS madness. Yes, eight won last week, including Eastern Illinois. But count me among the people who feel that was more of an aberration than some new normal.
And as is the normal, Tennessee Tech tries to make their annual money game sound somehow noble. From their game preview: "Saturday's 11 a.m. contest in venerable Camp Randall Stadium will mark the 17th consecutive year that the Golden Eagles, a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), will step up a classification to challenge a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)."
Becuase I'm certain you would "step up a classification," if a six-figure paycheck wasn't involved.
Okay, I'm done ranting about money games. For now. I reserve the right to continue next week.
It's hard to have any kind of read on the Golden Eagles, and this week likely won't be especially helpful either. TTU took on NAIA Cumberland last week, winning in a lopsided 63-7 affair. It featured a 93-yard punt return, 323 yards of rushing, holding Cumberland below 200 yards of total offense. Basically, all the things they hope don't happen to them this week.
Wisconsin blitzed UMass in their season opener, a team you could argue is FBS in name only, behind 393 yards rushing. Ouchie.
TENNESSEE TECH WILL WIN IF — The Big 10 implements their "no more FCS opponents" guideline this afternoon.
WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF — A wild badger doesn't attack the team in their sleep.
Previews by Catlin Bogard. For unfiltered coverage of the Ohio Valley Conference, go to OVCBall.net