A couple of FCS playoff questions may have been answered, a very long conference win streak came crashing to an end, and some individual records were broken as Saturday proved we're coming down to the wire in terms of "who belongs where" at this level.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will update story throughout Saturday evening[divider]
SEMO was the talk of the proverbial FCS "town" on Saturday as the Redhawks did something nobody in the Ohio Valley Conference had done since Jimmy Garappolo roamed the gridiron for Eastern Illinois in 2013 — it knocked off the mighty Jacksonville State Gamecocks. The 36-game OVC streak came to an end in Cape Girardeau, Mo. and it wasn't even close — 37-14.
SEASON PREVIEW (Aug. 6): What Will SEMO Do?
On defense, Justin Swift was a maniac — 11 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, an INT and a pass breakup. If he isn't the national defensive player of the week, the voters should have their brains checked. His cohort on defense, Zach Hall, racked up a safety, 15 stops and 2.5 TFLs, 1 blocked kick and 2 hurries and if Swift doesn't get the national honor, Hall better. Or maybe co-honors are in store?
Bydarrius Knighten returned a backbreaking blocked field goal 85 yards for a score in the first half for a nice 10-point swing of momentum, and Marquis Terry did his usual deal running the ball for the RedHawks (100-plus yards against a typically tough defense).
All in all it was one of the most impressive SEMO wins in recent memory, and it instantly thrusts it into the OVC title hunt and FCS Playoff discussion should it win the OVC and secure the automatic bid. Undefeated OVC team Murray State looms ahead on the schedule, and Jacksonville State could still be in the discussion if SEMO and/or Murray State trip up, but the Redhawks are now aiming for their first FCS Playoff berth since 2010 (their only one, actually).[divider]
SATURDAY'S TOP UPSETS
1. SEMO 37, Jacksonville St. 14
2. Incarnate Word 45, McNeese 17
3. William & Mary 27, Maine 20
4. Lamar 41, Sam Houston St. 23
5. UNI 24, SDSU 9
6. Sacred Heart 28, CCSU 25[divider]
SEVEN TEAMS CLINCH WINNING RECORDS
Last week, Colgate, ETSU, Kennesaw State and NDSU all clinched their sixth wins, assuring winning regular-season records.
On Saturday, seven more FCS teams joined the club. Dartmouth and Princeton are both 6-0 now and creep ever closer to their monumental, Ivy League settling battle in two weeks on Nov. 3 in Princeton, N.J. Towson went to 6-1 and now looks like one of the top CAA threats, but does have a brutal stretch to wrap the season with in the final four weeks.
Alcorn State (6-2) may have dropped a 5 OT game to Alabama State a few weeks back, but the Braves are clearly the top team in the SWAC after disposing of Grambling today. The SWAC champion may be coming from the East this year.
You can add North Carolina A&T to the "winners" list too at 6-2, along with Stony Brook (6-2) and UC Davis (6-1) clinched its first winning regular season since going 6-5 in the Great West Conference in 2010.[divider]
First of all, if you hear the soundtrack music to the movie JAWS — don't fret. It's only Samford waking up from the football dead and shredding everything in its path on its way back to FCS Playoff picture relevance. Quarterback Devlin Hodges and WR Kelvin McKnight break records every week, and this weekend's win over Furman was no exception.
Team records, Southern Conference records — you name it. Samford now wants to prove it can do more than shatter individual records, but it has zero margin for error as it must win its last games — Wofford at home, at Citadel and at ETSU. It would give the Bulldogs six straight wins and no losses since September — along with that near upset at Florida State.
Couple what Samford's doing with Wofford's bounceback win over previously SoCon undefeated ETSU … and you have a confusing picture. Don't worry, we have time left.
The Ohio Valley Conference was explained above with SEMO, and the Southland is currently a mess after Sam Houston State fell to previously 2-4 Lamar and effectively knocked itself out of the FCS Playoff picture (unless it gets so much help it'd be a miracle).
In the CAA, Maine's loss to bottom-half William & Mary is a blow, and Towson is flying high right now but has arguably the toughest four-game stretch to end the year in the FCS — at Delaware, vs. Maine, at Elon and vs. James Madison. If the Tigers win two of those? It should be considered for a seed depending on what the rest of the country is doing.
Delaware, on the other hand, has a nice looking path to eight or nine wins after a slow start to the year.
San Diego now looks like a lock for the Pioneer League auto bid, Colgate for the Patriot League auto bid, the Big South will be Kennesaw State and the NEC is anyone's guess at this point. Keep an eye on two other teams — North Dakota and North Carolina A&T. If certain scenarios play out, they may both be playoff teams — but they also can't fall again.
PREDICTIONS: What Did We Mess Up This Week?[divider]
MORE: Top FCS Recruiting Commitments