This has been an overtime kind of week for FCS football, as we had four big ones go to extra time … and boy were they entertaining. Oh … and the two Montana schools are holding on the "we're back" line. Please pick up. Goodness gracious did these two teams dominate good opponents Saturday. We also saw some teams bounce back from disappointing Week 1 losses and the FCS picked up its second FBS win when Southern Illinois throttled UMass on the road on Saturday. On the flip side? The world of D-2 and NAIA took some flesh out of the FCS level today, too. Like no weekend we've ever seen. Kudos to them, they understand what the FCS deals with, perception wise, and several of them took care of their versions of "Goliath" today.
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The "Power Three" conferences solidified their hold on that label this weekend. They looked impressive in mostly non-conference action, but they all had their hiccups. I'd say the Missouri Valley had probably the best day out-of-conference, with the hiccup being Indiana State's loss to non-scholarship Dayton out of the Pioneer Football League. The Flyers clearly had one of the top results of the entire day. The Sycamores of 2019 are hardly the Sycs of a few years ago when they went 0-11. This is a good program that gave a P5 team (Kansas) fits last weekend. Northern Iowa, NDSU, SDSU, Illinois State, Youngstown State and … yes, we see you Southern Illinois … all looked like machines. The Salukis' QB Stone Labanowitz threw for 4 TDs in the win and SIU rushed for 237 yards on an FBS program. One of the biggest challenges for FCS teams when they play FBS teams is depth and being able to establish (and stop) the ground game. SIU made that a non-factor Saturday and ran away with a blowout win.
The CAA's hiccup was a strong New Hampshire program falling to what might be a Patriot League front-runner by year's end — Holy Cross. (Psssst: Colgate, take notice). The Crusaders made the best of their opportunities. Aside from that? The CAA as a collective looked pretty damned strong. James Madison, Villanova, Towson, Elon and even Albany had impressive wins, and Delaware went to 2-0 thanks to a crazy 3 OT conference win over Rhode Island on the road. Also, highly ranked Maine went down to Georgia (cue Charlie Daniels Band) and made a game of things in the fourth quarter against FBS Georgia Southern before falling by eight. In all, impressive week.
Big Sky wasn't quite as polished looking, aside from the Montana schools who looked like world beaters and will see the benefit in this week's FCS national poll. Highly ranked UC Davis nearly fell at San Diego to the non-scholie Toreros. What is it about San Diego and Big Sky teams (cue 2016 and 2017 playoff memories)? Sheesh. The Aggies survived the challenge though, and Eastern Washington had a D-2 hang 31 on it and Idaho had a D-2 battle into the fourth quarter with Central Washington. Honestly, it was a shaky weekend for the Big Sky Conference, aside from the two Montana schools putting on a clinic. A tip of the cap to Sacramento State's new staff as they didn't exactly make things easy for P5 Arizona State Friday night.
The Southland as a collective may want to forget this weekend, aside from Central Arkansas, who continues to impress. Five teams went toe to toe with lower-division schools, and two came away with losses. Lamar had to win in overtime against one of the SWAC's bottom dwellers traditionally, Mississippi Valley State. And Southeastern Louisiana surely wanted to prove it had the "Big Mo" of momentum on its side after its Jacksonville State blowout win last week, but Hurricane Dorian had other plans and canceled a game in Florida against Bethune-Cookman. The Ohio Valley Conference went 1-8, with the win being impressive with Jacksonville State knocking off ranked Chattanooga.
The SoCon didn't have a win over an FCS scholarship team, so it'll look to rebound next week.
FIVE GAME BALLS
No. 1) Dayton Flyers – They knocked off a ranked MVFC team, and have two NEC teams coming up in Robert Morris (lost to a lower division team today) and defending champion Duquesne, before hitting league play. Are we looking at the first Pioneer League champion team since 2015 at Dayton? Maybe so.
No. 2) Holy Cross Crusaders – The stats were comparable with New Hampshire today, but when the Crusaders needed a turnover or needed to make a play they did it. Like Dayton above, could we be seeing a changing of the guard in the Patriot League this year? Colgate dominated last year, but we think there will be more parity this fall and Holy Cross may be a massive part of that.
No. 3) Furman Paladins – The 'Dins gave Georgia State hell, knocking them around in the first half before falling in the second by the same margin GSU beat the Tennessee Volunteers by last week at Rocky Top in a 100K seat stadium. This Furman team is legit, folks, and with Wofford looking shaky last weekend in the loss to S.C. State (Wofford didn't play this week), Furman appears to be the SoCon front-runner to us. The Citadel and Chattanooga also fell this weekend.
No. 4) Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils – I really don't care that this team is 0-2 after this weekend. Jerry Rice's alma mater gave a Southland team fits today and went to OT (Lamar) before falling. Last week it was within reach of beating a solid Tennessee State team, too — winning in the second half and being within three points with three minutes remaining. This team easily could be 2-0. No longer should this program be dismissed as an easy win in league play — it will be a factor in the SWAC if you believe the two results you just saw, and it has only eight FCS wins since 2012 and they're all in the SWAC. Keep an eye on Jerry's team.
No. 5) The D-2 and NAIA schools that beat FCS teams today – Shout out to Kentucky State, East Stroudsburg, Virginia Union, Midwestern State, Tarleton State and Truman State. They all beat FCS programs out of Division I. Also, Indiana Wesleyan took Butler to overtime before falling. This isn't taking a shot at the FCS teams that were beaten. This is giving kudos to programs trying to do the same thing FCS programs try to do when they go to Rocky Top or The Swamp or Death Valley or wherever. It's a big deal at their schools to beat a D-I. Tip of the cap to them. Today seemed unprecedented.
SWING AND A B-MAC WHIFF
WEEK TWO PICKS: See which ones B-Mac messed up
Hey Montana State and Elon (I don't apologize to FBS teams, sorry Ga. Southern and Kent State, you have a 23-scholarship advantage), I jacked up the picks for your games this weekend.
Montana State, I shouldn't have underestimated the piss and vinegar the 'Cats would have playing in front of their home crowd on Saturday. I've sat in that very stadium and watched July 4th fireworks and spent a ton of time in Bozeman over the years. I messed up, I admit it. One of my biggest questions about MSU coming in, after we heard the Chris Murray news in June and realized that Troy Andersen is mortal and would go back to defense … hey, I wondered how the QB situation would work out. Well, today it did. Now I realize that Troy Andersen isn't really human and just rushed for 100 plus yards while also being a wrecking ball on defense. Who does this? Did Troy wear a leather helmet today and was his aura throwback black and white? Has he met Knute Rockne and Red Grange? Who does two-platoon in D-1 college football and actually owns it? I'm not talking about a skill kid like a DB who catches 8 passes a year as a distraction and also returns kicks/punts. I'm talking about a linebacker who rushes for 100 yards after being an All-American last year at QB. At any rate, obviously something special is going on in Bozeman.
Next up? Give us what we all want — a Brawl of the Wild where the implications are simple: Win, and get three straight home games in the FCS Playoffs and a first-round bye so you can eat Turkey and Cranberries without a game two days later.
Elon, I shouldn't have underestimated Davis Cheek. I know better. The North Carolina A&T loss threw me for a loop but I should have known better. Jaylan Thomas and Marcus Willoughby are beasts BTW. The Phoenix are just another monster program to consider in the CAA. The Citadel is no slouch program (ask Towson) and they may be a playoff team in November. This was a big win for the Phoenix.
Listen to this week's episode of B-Mac and Herd's FCS Podcast, which is also available on iTunes, Spotify, iHeart, Stitcher and Spreaker.
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