If you’re going to make the postseason, you must be able to win on the road. That’s especially the case at the FCS level.
Whereas some FBS schools play as many as eight home games in the regular season, it’s impossible to play more than seven home games in the FCS. Even that many is usually improbable considering how many teams go on the road to play FBS foes. That’s what makes winning on the road vital for separating the decent teams from the elite ones.
1. Wofford Terriers – There’s a prevalent theory that option offenses tend to do better on the road than other systems do. The theory makes sense on paper. While other offenses are constantly calling audibles and checking at the line of scrimmage, you know what you’re going to get from an option attack.
Wofford had the fourth-best rushing offense in FCS last season and brings back a wealth of talent to a team that went 10-4. The Terriers play two of their toughest opponents on the road in The Citadel and South Carolina but have the talent to win both of those games outright.
The Terriers proved they could beat The Citadel on the road last season, claiming a 17-3 victory in the playoffs, and they covered the spread against a solid Ole Miss team. Wofford should be able to cover an inflated spread against South Carolina and may be able to upset the Gamecocks with this one falling in between home games against Florida and Clemson for Will Muschamp’s squad.
2. Villanova Wildcats – Defense and a strong running game are two of the keys to winning on the road, and Villanova has both of those aspects in spades. The Wildcats should have one of the best defenses in the country once again and that will keep them in games against some of the better offenses in the nation.
The Wildcats have a tough road slate. They have to travel to Lehigh, Temple and James Madison, but they are going to be undervalued. Villanova has a new head coach for the first time in over three decades, and many will take a wait and see approach with this team. While the passing game may struggle, the ground attack and defense should keep these games close enough for covers.
3. Central Arkansas Bears – Central Arkansas has one of the easiest road schedules that you will find in FCS this year. Although the Bears are going to get shellacked in a guarantee game against Kansas State, they should be big favorites in their five road games against FCS teams.
The Bears don’t play any team that finished better than 4-7 last year on the road in 2017. They return their entire offensive line and have some extremely talented playmakers at wide receiver. The offense should be able to move the ball in all their FCS road games this season.
4. Fordham Rams – Let’s get the obvious out of the way: this road schedule is daunting. Fordham will play all six of its roadies by October 21, and that’s tough for any team.
The good news is that the Rams’ opponents just aren’t that talented, save for Army. Fordham should be favored against all of its Patriot League foes away from home, and Central Connecticut State and Bryant shouldn’t pose much of a challenge.
Fordham has proven it can beat FBS competition, too. The Rams knocked off Army to start their 2015 campaign, as Chase Edmonds ran wild against the Black Knights defense. Edmonds will again be hard to stop after leading the nation in rushing yards per game at the FCS level in 2016 (163.5 yards per contest).
5. Florida A&M Rattlers – Playing on the road is nothing new for the Rattlers. FAMU has played multiple “home” games in different areas of Florida over the last few seasons to take advantage of its alumni base, and that has helped them when playing true road games.
The Rattlers have a chance to run the table in all of their true FCS road games. This offense should be one of the better ones in the MEAC, and they don’t play either of the giants of the conference on the road. Although they went just 4-7 in 2016, they beat all of the teams they face on the road this season, save for Norfolk State—a squad they didn’t play last year.