Hey FCS, I'm not afraid to say this … and I've been voting this way since the summer: North Dakota State may have some company this year. Why? Because the Bison are young and rebuilding (though the definition of rebuilding in Fargo is slightly different than in other places … wait a minute, did I really just type "slightly?)".
Are the Bison talented? Absolutely. Are they beatable? Absolutely. That's not how we felt one year ago today. There's no way any FCS team could have beaten the 2018 Bison. This year? It is possible and the young Bison are going to have to earn their stripes.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
So fasten your safety belts, FCS. This could be a very, very interesting year. UC Davis traveled to the Fargodome and gave North Dakota State fits on Saturday. It's funny … in the preseason Sam Herder and I envisioned this game as possibly being the biggest non-conference matchup of 2019. In retrospect? We were correct. But earlier this season we saw UC Davis struggle to put away non-scholie San Diego. Well, that apparently was a hiccup … UC Davis is as legit as we stated in the preseason, and NDSU can be challenged. We saw it today. That "parity" word (the FCS word of 2019, apparently) is still alive and well.
SAM HERDER COLUMN: UC Davis Is Legit
So here's a strong take on what just happened in the last 24 hours: Furman is the team that needs to be flying high on everybody's poll ballot tomorrow. The Paladins aren't No. 17 in the country, pollsters (grrrrr, don't get me started), and I even had them at No. 9 on my ballot and they should be higher than that. I don't give a damn about the 2-2 record (think about who this team lost to and by how much, people). If the world stopped today, Furman is an FCS seed with a first-round bye so the players can have some extra Thanksgiving turkey and not worry about a game in 48 hours. They could actually have some extra stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie, too. Hey, if that's not motivation for a starving offensive lineman (I weigh like an OL now, but I'm about a foot too short to be one), than I don't know what is. Furman is legit, folks.
Eastern Washington has to go to the FCS penalty box. It won't last long because this program is just too good, but gang … this team lost a ton of talent after Frisco in January. When are we going to pay attention to that and vote realistically? How can EWU be a Top Five program when it returns like, 10 starters? But I'd guess this program regroups by postseason time, it certainly has a great QB and watch EWU be a factor in the at-large situation. Last year in midseason we thought the Eags were downtrodden. Boy oh boy were we wrong. Expect the same this year. Not "Frisco same" necessarily but this program will rebound quickly.
Villanova has found its offense behind Campbell grad transfer QB Daniel Smith (or is it Danny this week, 'Nova?) and you couple that with what the Wildcats always do with that nasty defense from the Northeast… and the fact this program hasn't had the injury curse in 2019? Folks, this is a great program. Always has been. And now, after an incredible OT win on the road at Towson? 'Nova should be considered a national threat. And trust us here, Towson isn't down and out just yet, though the Shane Simpson injury is a big one (man, Shane, get better, nobody wants that to happen).
So much more to talk about in the coming weeks, and we'll do that …
OTHER GAME BALLS
No. 1) Prairie View A&M – So I'm putting a 1-3 team here? Absolutely I am. The Panthers have played their rear ends off this year and today nearly knocked off a team that I still think is one of the best in the HBCU ranks in Alcorn State. PVA&M also had Southland power Nicholls on the ropes last week and played FBS Houston in the other game. Keep an eye on this team. It may have 8 or 9 wins in it and may be the team Alcorn State faces once again in the SWAC Title game, and by then the Panthers should have some massive momentum on their side. Today it was 45-41. What would it be if there is a rematch?
No. 2) Ivy League – The Ivy League gave a good showing this weekend, going 6-2 against teams that have been playing for several weeks — with only a one-point loss by Penn to 3-1 Delaware and a one-touchdown loss by Harvard to a San Diego team that has shown some serious scrap this year so far. Princeton and Yale looked especially crisp in their "week ones", and look like the Ivy League frontrunners in the early going.
No. 3) Central Connecticut State – Yeah, who cares how this one ended (FBS Eastern Michigan won on a blocked punt TD with just seconds remaining) … hey Blue Devils, you had a 3-1 FBS team on the ropes and you have what, half the scholarships of an FBS? CCSU went ahead 29-28 with two minutes left in this game on a 68-yard TD score. It was looking like an NEC frontrunner was about to take down an FBS team but it was not to be. The Blue Devils look more and more like a threat to make the FCS Playoffs, but then again? So does Duquesne after a big win this weekend. Keep an eye on this dynamic, folks.
No. 4) Houston Baptist & Tennessee Tech once again – So we're saying this once again. Last year HBU and T-Tech combined to go 2-20. Today? They're a combined 6-2 with two FBS losses. Tennessee Tech is really riding high this weekend after knocking off a Missouri Valley Conference school in Western Illinois, and HBU knocked off Northwestern State — who gave LSU fits last week for a half-plus. Folks, these programs were considered some of the lowest ranked in the entire FCS last year, and now look at them? They're both 3-1, and HBU was a few points away from beating a FBS in UTEP and being 4-0. Big, big shout out once again to HBU coach Vic Shealy and T-Tech coach Dewayne Alexander, both of whom I had the pleasure to meet at summer media days. They are both sparking something big here, and it'll be interesting to see what these two teams do when it really hits the conference grind of October. PS — The two Bailey QBs — HBU's Bailey Zappe and TTech's Bailey Fisher? Yeah, they are crushing it this year so far. And they both return next year folks.
SWING AND A B-MAC WHIFF
WEEK FOUR PICKS: See which ones B-Mac messed up
Finally … a week where I only missed one, and I even admitted that I flipped a coin on the one I missed (see picks column link above). Do I get half credit Miss Moser (sorry, 2nd grade flashbacks)? To the San Diego Toreros, you continue to show some true spunk. We weren't really sure what to make of you after losing some pretty solid talent from last year's team, but you rose up and knocked off Harvard, and that's no small feat. You also gave UC Davis fits … and the Aggies nearly went up to Fargo and ended a very, very long winning streak by the North Dakota State Bison. Another testament to USD. Kudos on the big win, San Diego. Sam Herder picked you, I didn't. a tip of the hat to what you all do. It truly is amazing.
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