Professional Handicapper Kelso Sturgeon

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No National Basketball Association games scheduled.

 901 PIRATES
 902 REDS
4/16/2014 12:35 PM(et)
+125
-125
7u 
 
 
 
 
 
 903 CARDINALS
 904 BREWERS
4/16/2014 1:10 PM(et)
+115
-115
8½p 
 
 
 
 
 
 905 METS
 906 DIAMONDBACKS
4/16/2014 3:40 PM(et)
+125
-125
9½p 
 
 
 
 
 
 907 BRAVES
 908 PHILLIES
4/16/2014 7:05 PM(et)
off
 
 
 
 
 
 
 909 NATIONALS
 910 MARLINS
4/16/2014 7:10 PM(et)
+140
-140
6½o 
 
 
 
 
 
 911 ROCKIES
 912 PADRES
4/16/2014 10:10 PM(et)
+135
-135
6½p 
 
 
 
 
 
 913 DODGERS
 914 GIANTS
4/16/2014 10:15 PM(et)
+115
-115
8p 
 
 
 
 
 
 915 RAYS
 916 ORIOLES
4/16/2014 12:35 PM(et)
-120
+120
7½o 
 
 
 
 
 
 917 INDIANS
 918 TIGERS
4/16/2014 7:08 PM(et)
off
 
 
 
 
 
 
 919 MARINERS
 920 RANGERS
4/16/2014 8:05 PM(et)
+135
-135
7p 
 
 
 
 
 
 921 ROYALS
 922 ASTROS
4/16/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-135
+135
9u 
 
 
 
 
 
 923 BLUEJAYS
 924 TWINS
4/16/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-140
+140
8p 
 
 
 
 
 
 925 REDSOX
 926 WHITESOX
4/16/2014 8:10 PM(et)
-145
+145
8½u 
 
 
 
 
 
 927 ATHLETICS
 928 ANGELS
4/16/2014 10:05 PM(et)
+120
-120
8½u 
 
 
 
 
 
 929 CUBS
 930 YANKEES
4/16/2014 7:05 PM(et)
off
 
 
 
 
 
 
 931 CUBS
 932 YANKEES
4/16/2014 1:05 PM(et)
off
 
 
 
 
 
 

No National Football League games scheduled.

No College FootballI-A games scheduled.

No College Basketball games scheduled.

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Kelso Sturgeon has been a professional handicapper for 40 years and has a deep understanding of all facets of the game, be it football, basketball, baseball or horse racing. He's worked as a football scout in the SEC and studied under Hall of Fame coaches like Alabama's Bear Bryant, winner of five national titles and Hank Stram of the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the 1970 Super Bowl. He's been a Regional Sports Editor for the Associated Press, worked as a successful jockey agent and authored several books teaching people how to be a handicapper, including the bestseller, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO SPORTS BETTING. Kelso also understands that to be a successful handicapper means knowing the business of gambling, and to that end he is personal friends with most of the big linesmakers in Las Vegas and gets the daily scoop on what is happening on the other side of the counter. There is no one better qualifed to be your personal handicapper than Kelso Sturgeon.

Contact us or call 1-800-755-2255 to get Kelso Sturgeon as your personal handicapper. Enter here to get today's free pick!

Around FCS: Taking Another Look At San Diego

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Long after most of the FCS world was safely tucked into bed on Saturday night, San Diego was putting the finishing touches on a rather impressive 59-19 victory over Drake in a Pioneer Football League showdown, minutes away from the blue water of the Pacific Ocean.

Playing its most important game of the regular season, San Diego totally dismantled a Bulldog squad that was ranked No. 2 in the Sports Network Mid- Major poll and has been the Toreros' biggest league rival for the past three years.

This was a Drake team that had beaten Illinois State, then ranked No. 7 in FCS, 27-24 on the opening night of the season.

On defense, Jordan Sinclair and Ben Hannula picked off passes and returned them for touchdowns and defensive end Eric Bakhtiari was turning in a performance for the ages with four sacks, 10 tackles - six of them for losses - and tying an FCS record with three forced fumbles.

Drake was held scoreless through three quarters and only scored its 19 points after San Diego had cleared its bench. San Diego held FCS career-rushing- leader Scott Phaydavong to 56 yards on 14 carries, taking the speedy little back out of the game with a 24-point scoring outburst in the second period.

Offensively, quarterback Josh Johnson was slicing and dicing the Drake defense for 370 yards of total offense. Johnson completed 15-of-23 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns, and rushed eight times for 65 more yards on a night when the Toreros piled up 502 yards.

San Diego has now won 25 of its past 26 games over three seasons and should extend that record to 29 of 30 by the time it reaches its season-ending contest at UC Davis. Since closing out the 2004 season with five straight wins, the Toreros are 33-2.

Detractors like to point out that the Toreros play a weak schedule, and they have plenty of ammunition to prove their point. Until beating Drake on Saturday night, San Diego's five previous victories came against teams (Azusa Pacific, Marist, Northern Colorado, Butler and Valparaiso) that have two wins against FCS opponents this season.

But it is also true that San Diego has risen to the challenge almost every time it has played a top-notch opponent in the past three years.

In 2005, the Toreros beat Yale 17-14 at home, and nearly upset Princeton before losing 20-17 on the road.

Last year, San Diego took apart a Yale team, 43-17, that would tie for the Ivy League championship, shut out Drake 37-0, and overwhelmed Northeast Conference champ Monmouth 27-7. There was also a 37-27 loss at UC Davis - a game that the Toreros led until midway through the third period.

This season, there have been some interesting score comparisons between San Diego and several other ranked teams.

The Toreros gave up a couple of garbage-time scores in a 42-32 victory over Azusa Pacific. Three weeks later, No. 13 Nicholls State needed a drive in the final minute and Alex Romero's 23-yard field goal with nine seconds left to come from behind for a 30-28 win against Azusa Pacific.

Even after allowing 19 fourth-quarter points to Drake, San Diego's 40-point win over the Bulldogs was greater than No. 1 Northern Iowa's 38-point, 45-7 victory against Drake. San Diego had a 53-point lead in that game with less than four minutes remaining.

San Diego waxed poor Northern Colorado 49-13, a 38-point victory. No. 19 Cal Poly beat the Bears by 35, 56-21.

Steve Mooshagian, a wide receiver's coach at USD after several years as the head coach at Sacramento State and a top-rate player in his own right when current Cal coach Jeff Tedford was throwing passes to him at Fresno State, made an interesting comparison recently between the Toreros and some of the teams in the Big Sky Conference.

"This team is as talented as many of the Big Sky programs that I faced the last four years at Sacramento State."

Some people wondered how the Toreros would do this season when dynamic coach Jim Harbaugh left for Stanford. But San Diego hasn't missed a beat under new head coach Ron Caragher.

For years, this writer has been a proponent of teams that play challenging schedules. And I was one of the loudest voices criticizing athletic director Ky Snyder last year for nixing possible games against opponents like Cal Poly and Appalachian State that could have proven San Diego's worthiness as a potential playoff team.

But you can't hold the schedule against San Diego's talented team, which simply lines up and beats whoever is on the schedule each week.

Johnson is likely to be the first FCS player chosen in next spring's NFL draft. The 6-3, 200-pound senior with the quick feet and strong arm is first nationally in passing efficiency (222.1) and total offense (399 yards per game), third in yards per game (321), 11th in total passing yards (1,603) and 61st in rushing (390 yards, 78 yards per game).

One of the most amazing stats for Johnson is that he has a 23-0 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio. He also ranks first in points responsible for with an average of 29 per game.

Bakhtiari, another strong NFL prospect as a 6-4, 260-pound defensive end, is first in FCS in sacks (11.5), second by a half a tackle in tackles for loss (15) and tied for third with three forced fumbles.

Wes Doyle is tied for seventh in receptions (44) and 10th in receiving yards per game (95).

Not just a passing team, the Toreros can also rely on the running of JT Rogan, who is 43rd in rushing with 89 yards per game (534 yards).

Jordan Paopao and Gabe DeAnda help protect Johnson and open holes for Rogan as part of an excellent offensive line. Johnson, Bakhtiari, Doyle Paopao and DeAnda were all preseason All-Americans on the Sports Network Mid-Major squad.

Johnson should be a serious candidate for the Walter Payton Award this year and Bakhtiari has just been added to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list.

As a team, San Diego is first nationally in scoring (47.5), first in total offense (495 yards per game) and seventh in passing (309 yards).

The Toreros face an uphill battle to win support from the NCAA playoff selection committee for a postseason berth this season. And I'd be the first to admit that I'm not sure how to evaluate a team that plays such a mediocre schedule.

But you can't deny the fact that this is a talented team that at the very least deserves to be included in the conversation when the playoff field is discussed this year.

WINNING OFF THE GRIDIRON

McNeese State has established itself as one of the top teams in FCS by winning their first six games this season. But the Cowboys came up with a bigger win off the field on Wednesday afternoon.

With rainy weather in Lake Charles, La. on Wednesday, the Cowboys were on their way to practice at the school's Burton Coliseum when players witnessed an accident that involved a school bus.

The bus, which was carrying grade-school children, turned over in a ditch on the west side of Common Street, near the Lake Charles Municipal Airport.

One of the first players to race to the scene was Kenneth Lundy, a senior defensive tackle.

"We were there only seconds after it happened," said Lundy. "I stopped my car right in the middle of the highway and we all began pitching in to get the kids out of the bus."

Several players worked to open the emergency door in the back of the bus, while Lundy, Detrick Taylor, LaDairus Key and John Hamilton began helping children out of the front of the bus.

Fourteen other McNeese players, Travis Thibodeaux, David Turnage, Vaalyn Jackson, Garren Jim, Tyson Sibley, John Ledet, Bernardo Henry, Bryant Mason, Josh Ellison, John Vigers, Geremy Pilate, Allen Nelson, Brian Harvey and Josh Wagner, arrived on the scene in the next few moments to help with the rescue efforts.

"We put them all in Travis' pickup truck and carried them over to Burton Coliseum," Lundy said.

McNeese athletic trainer Jim Murphy treated the children when they arrived at the arena until emergency medical personnel arrived.

TURNING 100

On Aug. 28, 1877, the Harvard Crimson football team traveled to Princeton for the first time to take on the Tigers. The Princeton media guide records that Harvard scored two touchdowns to one TD and a field goal for the Tigers as the Crimson went home with a victory.

On Nov. 3, 1877, Princeton reversed that score to earn their first win over the Crimson.

This Saturday, Harvard hosts Princeton in the 100th meeting between the two schools. It will be the seventh Ivy League series to hit the century mark.

And it could have big implications on the championship race among the Ancient Eight.

Harvard is one of just two undefeated teams left in the Ivy League, along with Yale at 2-0. Princeton is 1-1, but realizes a win is the only way it will likely keep its hopes alive of repeating the conference title it shared with Yale last season.

Harvard (3-2) has played unevenly in three non-conference games against Patriot League opponents, beating Lafayette last weekend after losing to Holy Cross and Lehigh. But the Crimson have been solid in Ivy League wins over Brown and Cornell.

It has been a frustrating year for Princeton, which has struggled to a 2-3 record. The Tigers split games with Lehigh (loss) and Lafayette (win) out of league and Columbia (win) and Brown (loss) in league. There was also a late collapse against Hampton.

Turnovers have killed the Tigers. Princeton has given the ball up 20 times. Only Texas Southern, with 23 turnovers, has lost the ball more.

Harvard has forced 15 turnovers and killed off three Lafayette drives in the fourth quarter last week with interceptions to turn a 17-17 tie into a 27-17 win. Steven Williams keyed the defensive effort by picking off a pass and returning it 91 yards for a touchdown.

TOP-25 GAMES

No. 1 Northern Iowa (6-0, 2-0) at No. 18 Western Illinois (5-2, 3-0)

Herb Donaldson of Western Illinois rushed for the second 300-yard game of his career last week in a win over Missouri State, but Donaldson and the Leathernecks will be facing one of the top rushing defenses in FCS (fifth nationally at 85 yards per game). Throwing the ball against UNI can be problematic, too. Southern Illinois QB Nick Hill had one interception all year before the Panthers picked off three of his passes last week in UNI's 30-24 win. UNI has 11 interceptions this season. The Panthers have been extremely balanced offensively with heady senior Eric Sanders throwing to Johnny Gray and a host of other quality receivers and with Corey Lewis (655 yards) rushing the ball effectively. UNI seems to be in the midst of a special season and won't let the Leathernecks derail them.

Northern Iowa 28, Western Illinois 14

No. 2 North Dakota State (6-0) at Minnesota (1-6)

A year ago at Minnesota, North Dakota State won the battle, but lost the war. The Bison dominated the Gophers, but mistakes in the kicking game led to a heartbreaking 10-9 loss. A blocked Shawn Bilbeau field goal in the final seconds allowed Minnesota to escape. With that in mind, the Gophers aren't likely to overlook NDSU again. A bowl team last season, Minnesota has struggled in 2007. QB Adam Weber has 18 TD passes, but 14 interceptions for an offense that has coughed up 22 turnovers - an average of over three per game. Eric Decker and Ernest Wheelwright (the son of former New Orleans Saints Ernie Wheelwright) have teamed up for 85 receptions, 1,064 yards and 14 TDs. The Bison are one of the most balanced teams in the country (1,383 passing yards and 1,305 rushing yards) behind RB Tyler Roehl (732 yards, 13 TDs) and QB Steve Walker (1,223 yards, 72% passing). Led by Buchanan Award candidate Joe Mays at LB, the Bison are allowing just 108 yards rushing. Look for Minnesota to play one of its most focused games of the year to knock NDSU from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Minnesota 24, North Dakota State 17

Northern Colorado (0-7, 0-3) at No. 3 Montana (6-0, 3-0)

What's wrong with the Grizzlies' offense? That is the most-asked question in Missoula, Mont. these days. Montana is undefeated, but only because the defense has bailed out an offense that has struggled all season. All-American RB Lex Hilliard has been limited to 480 yards, but has scored eight of Montana's 20 touchdowns. The Grizzlies have scored just 40 points offensively in three Big Sky wins, however. Cornerback Torrey Thomas saved Montana last Saturday with two interceptions and a game-clinching 17-yard TD return. UNC has been outscored 282-68 and ranks nationally in defense, giving up 515 yards per game. David Woods has rushed for 501 yards, but has had little help offensively for a Bears' squad that is ranked next to last in scoring (9.7 points per game). If Montana can't get its offense untracked in this one, you have to wonder if the Grizzlies ever will.

Montana 31, Northern Colorado 7

Northeastern (1-5, 0-3) at No. 4 Massachusetts (5-1, 3-0)

UMass survived a huge scare when it beat Villanova last week in four overtimes. Northeastern, meanwhile, has lost two games in a row in heartbreaking fashion. The Minutemen were burned for an uncharacteristic 243 rushing yards last week and struggled with their blitzing defense before switching to a base defense. QB Liam Coen was just 4-of-11 passing in the first half before catching fire to finish 21-of-34 for 355 yards and two TDs. Rasheed Rancher and J.J. Moore have been big-play receivers for UMass. Northeastern has awakened offensively behind the running of Maurice Murray, who has 670 yards and six TDs. The Husky defense has struggled against both the run and the pass and has allowed 28 points per game, but it has been improving in recent weeks. The wounds of Don Brown's move from Northeastern to UMass still linger and this will be a bitterly contested game, but after the wake-up call against Villanova and playing at home, UMass should be able to win this one.

Massachusetts 28, Northeastern 17

Georgia Southern (4-2, 1-2) at No. 5 Appalachian State (5-1, 1-1)

Appalachian State received a much-needed week off last week to relax and get healthy from a six-week grind that included games with Michigan, Wofford and Elon. The time off should enable QB Armanti Edwards to return to the lineup from his shoulder injury for the first time since the Sept. 22 loss at Wofford. If Edwards is unable to play, senior Trey Elder, ranked fifth in FCS in passing efficiency, will go instead. RB Kevin Richardson had 208 yards against the Eagles two years ago to earn national player of the week honors. The Mountaineers have shown improved defensive line play in recent weeks with the emergence of DE Tim Washington, who has 4.5 sacks. Safety Corey Lynch remains a big-play performer in the back of the ASU defense. Georgia Southern has unleashed one of the top rushing attacks in FCS with QB Jayson Foster and RB Lamar Lewis, but the Eagles will likely have to show some air attack to beat the Mountaineers. On defense, GSU will need to force turnovers to keep the game close. The Eagles relied on four turnovers last year to push ASU to overtime before losing 27-20 at home. But in a series that has been dominated by the host team, GSU must play this one at Kidd Brewer Stadium, where Appalachian State has won 30 consecutive games - the longest streak in Division I football. Another bad stat for GSU is the fact the Eagles have allowed 32.5 points per game. ASU is sixth nationally in scoring, averaging 40 points per game.

Appalachian State 49, Georgia Southern 24

No. 24 Elon (4-2, 2-1) at No. 7 Wofford (6-1, 3-0)

After stopping Appalachian State, Furman and The Citadel in SoCon play, Wofford faces another challenge in rapidly improving Elon. The Phoenix has a brilliant young passer in freshman Scott Riddle, who is fourth nationally averaging 317 yards per game. He has two outstanding receivers in Terrell Hudgins and Michael Mayer, but Elon lacks a consistent running game. The Phoenix has only lost to No. 2 ranked BCS team South Florida and two-time defending national champ Appalachian State. Elon's defense is still a work in progress. Wofford's biggest weakness might be a pass defense that has allowed 223 yards per game, not a pleasant thought going up against Elon. The Terriers are 12th nationally in turnover margin, but turnovers are always a concern with the triple option. Kevious Johnson leads the team with 670 yards and six TDs, but the Terriers have seven players who have gained 100 yards rushing. QB Josh Collier has improved by leaps and bounds as a passer, giving the Terriers more offensive balance than they have had during coach Mike Ayers' tenure. This could be one of Wofford's last real challenges in league play, but playing at home, the Terriers should survive a tough game.

Wofford 35, Elon 31

Missouri State (4-3, 1-2) at No. 9 Southern Illinois (6-1, 2-1)

With Southern Illinois coming off a tough loss to Northern Iowa, this is probably the worst time for Missouri State to catch the Salukis. Missouri State has been potent on offense, but has struggled defensively with a young unit that is allowing 41 points per game. Gerald Davis and Kingjack Washington have teamed to run for 1,004 yards and 13 TDs for the Bears. SIU RBs John Randle and Deji Karim have combined for 844 yards rushing and 13 TDs, but they were derailed by UNI last weekend. QB Nick Hill is hitting 71% of his passes and has thrown for 1,634 yards and 17 TDs, but he has also been intercepted four times in the past two games after throwing none in the first five games.

Southern Illinois 49, Missouri State 24

No. 11 New Hampshire (4-2, 1-2) at No. 10 Hofstra (6-0, 3-0)

Is Hofstra for real? The Pride is undefeated at the midway point of the season, but hasn't played a team that currently has a winning record. Hofstra is solid on defense, led by All-American linebacker Gian Villante. The Pride has given up just 16 points per game and is 10th in scoring defense and eighth overall. But Hofstra has given up 192 yards per game passing. Kareem Huggins leads FCS in all-purpose yards (220 per game) to key the Pride attack, and Rob Zarilli is a big threat in the kicking game. New Hampshire hopes to have QB Ricky Santos back from a shoulder injury suffered two weeks ago against Delaware, but R.J. Toman has led the Wildcats to two wins in Santos' absence. UNH has struggled against the pass and could find it hard to stop Hofstra's combination of QB Bryan Savage and receiver Charles Sullivan, who is second nationally with 51 catches and has gained 113 yards per game. New Hampshire has little room for error with two losses already, but will need a tremendous offensive game against one of the best defenses in FCS.

Hofstra 35, New Hampshire 28

Illinois State (3-4, 1-2) at No. 12 Youngstown State (5-2, 1-1)

Before the season this looked like a matchup of two potential top-10 teams, but Illinois State has been one of the most disappointing squads in FCS. The Redbirds have been slowed by injuries on defense and turnovers on offense. Senior QB Luke Drone has thrown more interceptions (12) than TDs (11), though Rafael Rice and Geno Blow (1,278 yards) have given ISU a strong running game. Kye Stewart leads a defense that can be effective on a good day, but has struggled at other times. YSU has traditionally been a thorn in ISU's side, including a win in last year's playoff quarterfinals. The Penguins have two effective and complementary quarterbacks in Tom Zetts, the senior leader and passer, and Ferlando Williams Jr., a dynamic runner. The Penguins are 14th nationally in defense and have allowed only 19 points per game.

Youngstown State 24, Illinois State 14

Morgan State (4-3, 3-2) at No. 15 Delaware State (5-1, 4-0)

Delaware State has relied heavily on its defense during a three-game winning streak. The Hornets have allowed just 15 points per game. On offense, wide receiver Shaheer McBride has been a big-play threat with 21 catches for 16.5 yards and five TDs when DSU needs to throw. QB Vashon Winton is a playmaker as a runner or a thrower. Morgan State has shown plenty of improvement, but the Bears struggled to an overtime win last week against a poor Howard club. Chad Simpson has rushed for 994 yards and 10 TDs, but was banged up in last weekend's win. The Bears have struggled with their pass offense, with a pair of QBs throwing for only 990 yards in seven games. The Morgan State defense has given up fewer than 20 points in four games.

Delaware State 21, Morgan State 10

No. 16 Yale (5-0, 2-0) at Penn (2-3, 1-1)

Yale is second nationally in rushing with 327 yards per game, while Mike McLeod is first individually with 199 yards per contest. McLeod broke the school rushing record with 256 yards against Holy Cross, and bettered it with 276 Saturday against a strong Lehigh defense. The Bulldogs are fourth in scoring defense (12.0) and seventh in total defense (281 yards per game). Penn finally got its offense untracked last weekend with Joe Sandberg rushing for 197 yards in a win over Columbia. The Quakers scored 45 points in the first half after logging just 34 points in their first three games. Bryan Walker is settling in at quarterback with Robert Irvin out for the season with a shoulder injury. After suffering 12 turnovers in its first two games, Penn has allowed just one in the past three, while the Quaker defense has forced 14 turnovers this season. Penn usually gives Yale fits. Last year's 17-14 loss in overtime was Penn's first loss to the Bulldogs since 2000. Penn should play tough at home in Franklin Field, but Yale's ground game will be tough to stop.

Yale 21, Penn 17

Rhode Island (1-5, 0-3) at No. 18 Richmond (4-2, 2-1)

Richmond RB Tim Hightower has been one of the biggest threats in FCS this season with 187 all-purpose yards per game and 16 TDs. Going against a shaky URI defense, Hightower and company should have a big day. The Spiders turned in a shutout last week against Stony Brook, but will face a bigger challenge in stopping the Rams' triple-option, which is eighth nationally at 262 rushing yards per game. Fullback Joe Casey has run for 583 yards. Rhode Island is allowing 450 yards per game and is ranked 109th nationally in total defense. Facing a powerful offense, URI will need to control the ball to have any chance at winning.

Richmond 42, Rhode Island 21

No. 22 Eastern Washington (4-2) at Brigham Young (4-2)

Matt Nichols has revitalized the EWU passing attack, throwing for 1,837 yards and 16 TDs. Aaron Boyce has 46 catches and five touchdowns for a team averaging 34 points per game. But the Eagles have been inconsistent running the ball. EWU has been a bend-but-not-break defense. Greg Peach is fourth nationally in sacks with seven. To no one's surprise, BYU has been at its best throwing the ball, with QB Max Hall firing for 1,974 yards and 13 TDs. But Hall has been intercepted eight times. Harvey Unga has 539 yards rushing for the Cougars, who have won three straight games.

Brigham Young 38, Eastern Washington 20

No. 23 Grambling (5-1, 5-0) at Jackson State (4-2, 4-0)

Grambling-Jackson State has long represented one of the most classic of SWAC games, and the rivalry has revived its luster with both teams undefeated in league. Grambling has many weapons on offense, with QB Brandon Landers throwing to Reginald Jackson and Clyde Edwards (66 catches, 10 TDs combined), while Frank Warren and Cornelius Walker have provided a strong running duo (833 yards together). After giving up only 20 points in three games, the Tigers were burnt for 24 last week by Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a tight win. Jackson State isn't a team of stars, but the Tigers have found ways to win. Eric Haw has 459 yards, a five-yard average and five TDs rushing. JSU has given up 20 points or fewer in four games, but the Tigers still have the bulk of their schedule remaining. Jackson State will be rocking on Saturday, but Grambling has too many weapons to lose this one.

Grambling 28, Jackson State 17

No. 25 Norfolk State (5-1, 4-0) at Florida A&M (2-4, 1-3)

Just a few short years ago, FAMU was on top of the MEAC standings and NSU was a bottom-feeder in the league, but now the roles have been reversed. Norfolk State is only three wins away from a championship showdown with Delaware State after last week's stunning 20-19 victory over Hampton. Statistically, it is difficult to see how the Spartans have won. Daryl Jones has rushed for 562 yards and nine TDs, and NSU has several receiving threats when young QB Casey Hansen can get them the ball. The biggest thing that the Spartans have done is win close games. FAMU has been erratic on offense, though Phillip Sylvester has 598 yards rushing and is averaging six yards per carry. The Rattlers are almost perfectly balanced between the run and the pass. But the FAMU defense is giving up 397 yards per game.

Norfolk State 24, Florida A&M 17

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE WEEK

Central Connecticut State (4-2, 2-0) at Wagner (5-1, 3-0)

Wagner is off to its best start in years and could take a major step towards its first NEC title with a win over CCSU. The Seahawks are coming off a 45-16 win over defending champion Monmouth. Both teams rely heavily on the ground game and strong defense. Jason Butler has rushed for 860 yards to rank sixth nationally for Wagner. Piotr Czech is 11-of-12 in field goals and is also averaging 41 yards per punt. The Seahawks are fifth nationally in scoring defense, 12th in total defense and ninth against the run (90 yards per game). CCSU will bring its triple-option into Wagner as the fourth best rushing team in FCS. Jo Jo Freeman leads the attack with 459 yards rushing, but the Blue Devils have plenty of other running weapons, too. CCSU is ninth in total defense. This game could end up deciding the NEC title and Wagner's homefield advantage and momentum will be tough to beat.

Wagner 17, Central Connecticut State 14

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 6 McNeese State (6-0, 2-0) at No. 13 Nicholls State (5-1, 2-0)

These two rivals are used to closing out the season, but the addition of Central Arkansas has changed the Southland schedule. That said, it could still end up being the game that decides the league championship. McNeese State is undefeated, but Nicholls State will be the first winning team the Cowboys have played. McNeese State has an offense filled with weapons, including QB Derrick Fourroux (1,507 total offensive yards, 13 TDs). Bryan Smith has been one of the top pass rushers in the country with nine sacks, but he and his teammates will need to worry about the triple-option offense of Nicholls State. Seven different Colonel runners have run for 100 yards this season for a team that is 10th nationally (256 yards per game). Nicholls State has won as much with defense as anything else. The Colonels are 16th nationally in total defense and have 13 interceptions, including six by Ladarius Webb, who has returned three of them for touchdowns. In a game of contrasts, McNeese State has the balance to overcome Nicholls State's strengths and its homefield advantage.

McNeese State 28, Nicholls State 24

10/18/2007 2:16:35 PM