Tennessee State checked one off of the bucket list on Thursday, and at the same time gave the FCS it's first FBS win of the year.
The Tigers knocked off Georgia State, a program from the Sun Belt conference. Score — 17-10. And honestly, it was never in doubt as former Florida Gator quarterback Treon Harris was as good as expected in his debut, throwing for 145 yards and rushing for 91 and a TD to help set the tone for the game. But the defense was even more incredible, pinning GSU to only 49 yards rushing on 29 attempts.
While big-time NFL prospect Ebenezer Ogundedo was as good as advertised, it was the play of Chris Collins (12 tackles, 3 TFLs) and Vincent Sellers (10 tackles, 1 TFL) that really stuck out for the day. The team finished with 7 tackles for loss in the game.[divider]
While they didn't end up winning their FBS games, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention how close Rhode Island, Austin Peay and Holy Cross came to adding to the list that Tennessee State kicked off. Rhode Island took 2016 bowl team Central Michigan to triple overtime before falling by three, while Austin Peay had Cincinnati within its cross hairs late in the fourth quarter before the Bearcats sealed it up with a late score. Rhode Island QB Tyler Harris threw for 284 yards and 3 TDs. And keep in mind, Austin Peay hasn't won a game since 2014.
And Holy Cross was beating UConn 20-7 in the second half before falling, and quarterback Peter Pujals finished with 358 yards passing and a TD. But for three FCS programs that combined for six wins in 2016 to come close to adding No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 to the FCS over FBS list for 2017, it is worthy of mention.[divider]
When it comes to the FCS vs. FCS matchups … the games that looked good prior to kickoff certainly lived up to their billing. And several of these matchups seem like may have some say so in the playoff picture in November.
Nicholls and New Hampshire both got a massive lift with key conference victories over big-time rivals. Nicholls needed a 32-yard no-time-remaining field goal from Lorran Fonseca to clinch the win over a very good-looking McNeese team, 37-35. It was Fonseca's first field goal attempt at Nicholls.
Nicholls QB Chase Fourcade accounted for 262 yards on offense and four touchdowns.
New Hampshire also had a true battle, with next-door CAA neighbor Maine. It was the Wildcats' eight straight win, but many of those wins have been nailbiters like Thursday's was. UNH came away with the 24-23 win thanks to a missed PAT by Maine with about four minutes remaining. It was a back and forth affair.
Samford and Kennesaw State had quite a game going into halftime, but then went through a weather delay.[divider]
There were some more convincing FCS vs FCS wins, by teams that may end up at the top of the national rankings most of the year. South Dakota State hammered what likely will be the frontrunner up in the Northeast Conference — Duquesne. The game was never in doubt and NFL WR prospect Jake Wieneke caught four touchdowns in the game, while fellow NFL prospect Dallas Goedert only need to snag two passes for 43 yards before some of the backups began to make it in.
And Missouri Valley rival Western Illinois also put on an impressive show, knocking around one of the better programs in the Ohio Valley Conference in Tennessee Tech — 41-14. The real explosion came in the 24-point third quarter, and running back Max Norris was a real weapon for WIU, going for 133 yards rushing. The Leathernecks look like one of the stronger Valley teams this season.