FCS conference schedule set to heat up

(STATS) – If the intensity level has appeared high during the early portion of the FCS season, that’s nothing.

Conference season, which heats up in a big way next weekend, will take it to a higher level.

The Week 4 action kicks off Thursday night in the MEAC with defending champ North Carolina Central hosting perennial power South Carolina State.

On Saturday, there are terrific matchups across the nation, including top-ranked James Madison (3-0) hosting Maine in CAA Football. In last year’s conference opener for both teams, the Dukes trailed in the fourth quarter against the Black Bears before they rallied to win and start a 12-game, season-ending run that concluded with the FCS national championship.

Villanova travels to Albany in another key CAA opener.

Other big conference games include Eastern Washington at rival Montana and Montana State at North Dakota in the Big Sky, Tennessee State at UT Martin in the Ohio Valley Conference, Nicholls at defending Southland Conference champion Sam Houston State and Southern at Alcorn State in the SWAC.

The week’s biggest non-conference game matches two Top 25 teams with No. 5 Jacksonville State seeking to beat FBS-bound Liberty for the second straight year.

Three FCS teams will play at FBS opponents: Western Illinois-Coastal Carolina, Southern Illinois-Memphis and Wagner-Western Michigan.