It was billed as the best opening weekend in college football history, and while some of the games didn’t live up to that billing (USC-Bama), the FCS sure gave us some fun this weekend. Here’s a quick recap of what went down.
- Four FCS teams beat FBS schools. Albany picked up its first upper-division victory by beating Buffalo out of the MAC. The Colonial I thought had a particularly strong weekend. Add in the Stony Brook win over UND, coupled with Richmond’s victory and that’s a good start. William & Mary, Villanova and Towson were all dusted by their FBS opponents, but Maine nearly knocked off UConn. I thought the CAA was due for a big year and early indications seem to back that up.
- The Missouri Valley posted a 7-3 on the opening weekend, with the three losses all to FBS teams (TCU, Florida Atlantic and New Mexico). Illinois State racked up 271 rushing yards and four touchdowns as Brock Spack went by committee with his running backs in the Redbirds win over Valpo. Western Illinois also started the year strong with a road win at Eastern Illinois.
- Charleston Southern had a rough week. First head coach Jamey Chadwell and a defensive assistant coach were suspended for a game for an NCAA rules violation. Then before the game, several players were suspended for an apparent NCAA violation. Then, starting quarterback Kyle Copeland, who I thought played well in the Bucs loss at NDSU last week, suffers a terrible looking knee injury as is done for the year. Coupled with that, CSU’s backup quarterback also was injured in the win over Kentucky State. I believe CSU is by far the best team in the Big South, but those injuries may be too much to overcome. Plus the distractions off the field of possible impending NCAA infractions is a lot to deal with. Oh by the way, Charleston Southern play at Florida State Saturday.
- Richmond, Northern Iowa and Eastern Washington each proved that they’ll be in the title mix this fall. The Spiders, with basically everyone back from last year’s semifinalist team, dominated Virginia 37-20. Kyle Lauletta threw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns in an impressive performance. Richmond is a top 3 team in my mind and should win the CAA. UNI’s performance on defense was impressive, forcing four turnovers, while Aaron Bailey ran for two touchdowns in the Panthers 25-20 win over Iowa State. It marks the third time in the last five meetings that UNI has beaten Iowa State, which is remarkable in its own right. Iowa State has four more games scheduled with UNI, in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023. The Panthers schedule doesn’t lighten up, they host Montana next week, then travel to Eastern Washington.
- Speaking of the Eagles, what a win for them last night at Washington State. It marks the 2nd FBS win for that program in four years, they beat a ranked Oregon State team in 2013, with a narrow loss to Washington in 2014. New starting quarterback Gage Gubrud was tremendous, just a sophomore, throwing for 474 yards and five touchdown passes. Three of them went to the best player in the division, Cooper Kupp, who racked up 206 yards and in the process set the record for most touchdowns in FCS history. You’ll hear plenty on Kupp this week, but Eastern’s win was even more impressive considering they had to replace all five offensive linemen. The Eagles will be a stern test for a Bison defense that may have to play without All-American linebacker Nick DeLuca.
In case you haven’t read it, Mike McFeely has a post on the ratings for the FCS Kickoff, which were not as high as last season’s. Also, Kolpack has a history lesson the 2010 FCS Quarterfinal game with Eastern Washington, I’ll have the video version for those that want to stomach it on Sports Sunday tonight at 10:35 on Channel 6. Much more on that game as the week progresses, including my interview with Cooper Kupp and why he came back for his senior season. (Hint: he wanted to see the Dome) Should be a fun week.