North Dakota State set the bar high for FCS football teams with another dominant performance against one of the big boys in week one.
Week two offered more chances for FCS teams to make noise against FBS opponents but unlike the Bison, none of these teams were able to come through.
Nebraska, Washington and Connecticut were among the survivors who narrowly avoided being one-upped by FCS upstarts — the Cornhuskers and Huskies were actually involved in two of the more exciting games of the entire college football weekend.
A tough weekend for the Big Ten was nearly made even tougher when McNeese State nearly walked out of Lincoln with a program-defining win. Nebraska‘s Ameer Abdullah scored on a 58-yard touchdown reception with 20 seconds to play as BR-26 Nebraska pulled out a 31-24 win on Saturday in front of 91,082 in attendance.
“First off, congratulations to Nebraska,” McNeese State coach Matt Viator said. “They are a first class program and a first-class place. You have to give them credit. They found a way to win the game at the end. I’m really proud of our players to come in an environment like this.”
That wasn’t the only close call for FCS underdogs against the “big boys” on Saturday. A year after beating Oregon State of the Pac-12, Eastern Washington almost pulled off another stunner as junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 475 yards and a school-record seven touchdown passes in a 59-52 loss at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
The Eagles rallied from a 21-0 deficit to take leads of 38-37 and 45-44 in the second half.
“Our guys showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight,” Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said. “The thing that stands out to me is that you’re on the road in a Pac-12 stadium and things don’t go well early and you go down 21 to nothing. To me the thing that I was most proud of was where we were at the start and fighting our way back to take the lead early in the third quarter. That says a lot about our mental makeup and our toughness. It would have taken just one or two plays there.”
Stony Brook made the first win of the Bob Diaco era at UConn tougher than anyone thought as the Seawolves limited the Huskies to 223 total yards and pulled within 19-16 with 1:53 to go before falling short.
Connecticut had only 79 yards in the second half and the Stony Brook defense recorded 12 tackles for loss.
“Great all-around effort. We certainly had our chances and I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “I thought it was ours to win a number of times over the course of the game. But we got better this week, but it’s a loss.”
North Dakota State set the stage with a week one rout of Iowa State. The Bison lost 12 starters and their head coach after winning their third straight FCS championship last season, but new coach Chris Klieman started his tenure with a huge win, North Dakota State’s fifth-straight triumph over FBS competition.