Did you enjoy your college football offseason? Get a lot done? Get the flowers planted? Reconnect with your family and (non-football) friends? Decompress a bit?
Good, because the offseason is over. Sort of. The Football Championship Subdivision, which had its championships and most of its games canceled or postponed last fall, gets rolling with a one-time-only spring season this weekend. It technically began with McNeese State’s overtime win over Tarleton State last Saturday, but we’ll call that Week Zero. Starting with South Dakota State’s Friday night trip to Northern Iowa on ESPN+, it officially gets rolling in earnest. Eleven of 13 conferences — everyone but the Ivy League and MEAC — are playing partial schedules over the next nine weeks, with a 16-team playoff (down from the usual 24) beginning in late April.
It’s weird, it’s abbreviated, it’s competing with March Madness … but it’s football. And pretty good football at that.
Games and storylines for every week of the season
Each conference has its own start date and number of games, but over the course of the next two months you’re going to have the opportunity to catch a lot of interesting teams and players.
With an eye to variety, here are the five games that could be most worth watching each week, along with the storyline most worth paying attention to. The rankings listed next to each team are their preseason rankings from last August. Not every preseason top-25 team is playing this spring, but most are.
(It probably goes without saying for anyone who watched college football in the fall, but schedules are very, very much subject to change.)
Feb. 19-21: Missouri Valley Week
No. 5 South Dakota State at No. 3 Northern Iowa (Friday), No. 24 Southern Illinois at North Dakota, Samford at ETSU, Youngstown State at No. 1 North Dakota State (Sunday), Tarleton State at New Mexico State (Sunday).