FCS quarterfinal preview: Key matchups, score projections and more

    Bill Connelly is a staff writer for ESPN.com.

The first round of the spring FCS playoffs gave us the tension we crave in tournament settings — four games were decided by single digits, and we had a genuinely perfect playoff game in Southern Illinois’ narrow win over Weber State — but it also gave us mostly chalk. The top four seeds all advanced, as did three-time defending national champion North Dakota State, ensuring us of some dynamite quarterfinal matchups.

With the NFL draft still going on for much of Saturday, this weekend’s action takes place mostly on Sunday. It will be worth the wait, though: Four of the weekend’s five games, including the SWAC championship, will air on either ESPN or ESPN2. And only one of the five games has a spread higher than 3.5 points. Prepare for lots of down-to-the-wire action.

Note: Rankings listed below are the STATS FCS top 25 found at NCAA.com, all lines are via Caesars by William Hill, and all times are Eastern.

SWAC championship: Alabama A&M vs. No. 24 Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN2

The only Saturday game of the weekend pits two upstarts on a neutral field in Jackson, Mississippi: Connell Maynor’s prolific Alabama A&M Bulldogs and Doc Gamble’s surprising UAPB Golden Lions. Maynor took over in 2018 after winning 65 games in eight years at Winston-Salem State and Hampton, and it hasn’t taken long for the former Arena League offensive coordinator to make his mark.

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