Zach Simpson

PSAC Week 1 Preview

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PSAC Week 1

After a long offseason the 2018 PSAC football journey is finally upon us, many questions abound but as of Thursday some of these questions will start to come into focus.

As in years past this season kicks off on the Thursday before the Labor Day weekend. This is also the only true opportunity that the PSAC as a whole has to match up against the other leagues in the NCAA D2 classification.

A point that will be talked about as the season goes on will be the playoffs, the NCAA D2 playoffs are a tournament broken into regions. The PSAC is part of what is called Super Region 1. This region is made up of four leagues, the PSAC, Northeast 10, The Mountain East and the newest league Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Do to two crossover weekends the next two weeks this is the only chance to stake a claim to the top league in SR 1.

Week 1 Matchups
Thursday August 30th

California (9-3) @ #23 Ohio Dominican (7-4) (GMAC)
The defending GMAC champions play host to California to open up the 2018 campaign. The two teams played last season in California and the Vulcans came out on top 36-34. The Panthers of Ohio Dominican were the preseason pick of the GMAC coaches to repeat as champions this season, California was picked second in the PSAC west. The Vulcans will start a true freshman at QB for the first time in fifteen seasons. Ohio native Noah Mitchell, will take the reins to the offense and try and start the season on the right foot for the Vulcans. Will home field advantage mean enough to flip the scrip from 2017? The Pick ODU 35 CALU 27

Southern Connecticut State (5-5)(NE10) @ Gannon (5-6)
Golden Knights of Gannon are looking to start off 2018 much the same as 2017, in the season opener one year ago GU defeated SCSU 55-22. Gannon has been the picture of average since joining the PSAC, and come into this year picked to finish 5th by the coaches. The Owls of SCSU were picked 5th by the NE10 coaches. This is the type of game that will carry weight come the end of the season, of course for both the these schools a winning season needs to start with a victory, but for two leagues who want to claim top billing in SR1 this and many of these games carry much importance. In my opinion this game will showcase the best player in all of D2 football as well as the PSAC. Gannon running back Marcus Jones, along with eight other returning starters on the offensive side of the ball Gannon could be a top unit in the PSAC in 2018. The Pick GU 44 SCSU 17

East Stroudsburg (3-8) @ #7/8 Ferris State (11-2)(GLIAC)
PSAC legend Denny Douds begins his 45th season at East Stroudsburg with a trip to the GLIAC coaches #2 ranked team Ferris State. The Bulldogs will look to continue the momentum from an eleven win season; ESU will look to rebound from a 3-8 campaign in 2017. The Pick Ferris State 45 ESU 17

Pace (3-7)(NE10) @ Millersville (4-7)
Pace came out on top in the opening matchup between these two in 2017 by a close 28-20 score. Both of these programs are striving to climb the rankings in their respective leagues this fall. I believe that home field and the excitement of a new coach will carry some weight for the home standing Marauders. The Pick Millersville 24 Pace 21

West Chester (9-4) @ Bentley (6-4) (NE10)
WCU won 51-9 in 2017 as these programs met in the opener last season. The Golden Rams are one of the top programs in the PSAC east, and have aspirations of staying at the top this season. WCU can’t afford a slip up to start 2018 the coaches #3 pick in the NE10 Bentley is looking for bigger things in 2018 and the regional power Golden Rams are quite the team that can set an upset in motion. The Pick Bentley 24 WCU 23

Saturday September 1st

Mercyhurst (5-6) @ Hillsdale (7-4) (GMAC)
A defensive clash in 2017 ended with Hillsdale starting last season victorious 19-11. Hillsdale is picked 3rd in the GMAC and are receiving votes in the AFCA top 25. Mercyhurst was picked 6th in the PSAC west in 2018. Hillsdale is a wonderful college town and the Laker faithful heading to game will love the atmosphere. The pick Mercyhurst 21 Hillsdale 19

Edinboro (7-4) @ Lake Erie (2-8) (GMAC)
Edinboro looks to start the season 1-0 by making a short trip to Northern Ohio. Lake Erie is a program still looking for the breakout season. Coach Bradford and the Fighting Scots will start 2018 much the same way as 2017 with a lopsided victory over the Storm. The Pick Edinboro 37 Lake Erie 10

Seton Hill (0-11) @ Virginia Union (CIAA)
The Griffins will travel to Richmond to face CIAA power the Panthers of Virginia Union. Seton Hill is a program looking for something positive and keeping it close with the Panthers will fit that for the opener. The Pick VUU 27 Seton Hill 14

Kentucky State (3-8) (SIAC) @ Slippery Rock (8-3)
The Rock will look to break in a new quarterback and find some playmakers on offense as they welcome the Thoroughbreds this Saturday. The Rock rolled last season 42-21 as the two teams opened last season. 10 starters return on defense but for a group who struggled to the 13th overall ranking in the PSAC last season, showing progress will be vital heading into the crossover games the next few weeks. The pick SRU 24 KSU 14

Kutztown(8-3) @#20 Assumption (11-2) (NE10)
*#2 game of the week *

The #20 ranked Greyhounds of Assumptions welcome the Golden Bears to open the 2018 season, last season Assumption won 31-28 as the two faced off in Kutztown. Assumption the defending NE10 champs were picked to repeat in 2018. The Golden Bears picked 3rd by the coaches return 17 starters from an 8-3 team last season. The sting of missing the playoffs and the sting of last season against the Greyhounds, I expect head coach Jim Clements to have the Golden Bears prepared and ready as play Saturday. The pick Kutztown 31 Assumption 24

Lock Haven (2-9) @ Duquesne (FCS)(NEC)
The Dukes are the only FCS team a PSAC school will play this season. The Northeast Conference is one of the worst leagues in the Championship Subdivision, but the Dukes are a top program still the same. They struggled last week as they have already played an opener last week at UMass. This will not be a trip to Pittsburgh the Bald Eagles will look to remember. The Pick Duquesne 45 Hanven 17

Merrimack (4-6) (NE10) @ Bloomsburg (7-4)
This is a game the Huskies need, if they have aspirations of climbing the eastern standings this season. The Warriors are in for a battle at Redman Stadium on Saturday, The Huskies will look to start off their 20th consecutive winning season this week. Last season Bloomsburg was 3-3 at home and 4-1 on the road, even that stat is not enough to make this a close game. The Pick Bloomsburg 35 Merrimack 17

Shippensburg (10-2) vs. Clarion (1-10)
The Red Raiders and the Golden Eagles will play this week at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh. This stadium is in Station Square across the Monongahela river from downtown Pittsburgh, The game will be free to attend and parking is available around the stadium. Also in town on Saturday is Lock Haven @ Duquesne and Albany @ Pitt. I think this could be the surprise game of the weekend, the Golden Eagles can hang with Shippensburg early it could be a game in the second half. The Pick Shippensburg 24 Clarion 21

Game of the Week!
#4/4 IUP (13-1) @ #16/15 Ashland (11-2) (GLIAC)
Thursday August 30th

Ashland was the #3 pick in the GLIAC coaches poll, but a top 20 ranking in both national polls the Eagles are a very strong challenge for the PSAC favorite. The Crimson Hawks survived on a last second field goal last season 26-23. This will be the first chance for Lenny Williams and company to show they will not suffer a let down from the dominance of 2017. The main thing I will be looking for is an improved passing game from Williams and if they can find a powerful passing game they will be almost untouchable this fall. I expect the Crimson Hawks to come out rolling and show why they are the favorites in 2018. The Pick IUP 37 Ashland 30

This is it; the 2018 PSAC season is here. The journey begins this Thursday and continues on Saturday. I want to wish everyone from the players, to coaches, support staff, to the cheerleaders, marching bands, parents and even the fans a safe season. As we travel this fall lets all enjoy all the PSAC has to offer, great places, great people and make some great memories. Make this the best football season yet for the PSAC, enjoy everything and support our programs.

Follow along on twitter @zsimpson_d2 as we open the season this week.

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  1. DaleDude's Avatar
    Zack, love your insight. However, Mercyhurst 21, Hillsdale 19? Won't happen; tell you why. Hillsdale's Sr. QB Chance Stewart is a 6' 6", 265-pound beast originally a Big10 recruit. Since coming to Hillsdale he's earned mentions for a Harlan Hill, All-American, and he's on the NFL's radar. With similar accolades is Sr. WR Trey Brock. Check their stats. If, after the game is played, your pick is correct, I'll be back here to eat some PSAC crow. Will you do the same if I'm correct?
  2. Zach Simpson's Avatar
    I hope your kids get a chance at the next level, I love seeing D2 kids get that chance. I will give you props it the game is reversed ! You may have been the Hillsdale fan who recommended a little pub in town a few years ago, Best Cuban sandwich in my life if it was thanks a million.