Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Perhaps the most stunning day of FCS
regular-season action ever wasn't quite that with a closer look.
That might sound hard to believe after four of the top five ranked teams lost
for the first time this season and the FCS went from nine unbeaten teams to
four on Saturday.
But the strength of schedule may not lie. The NCAA puts out a weekly list for
FCS teams and Week 7 - the first week of the second half of the regular season
- might have exposed how some fast-starting teams had gotten a little fat on
Not to pick on only the unbeaten teams, but four of the five to fall on
Saturday - top-ranked North Dakota State, No. 2 Montana State, No. 5 Wofford
and SWAC leader Alabama A&M - each had one of the 25 easiest schedules in the
first half of the season (out of 121 FCS teams - Georgia State isn't
recognized in the strength of schedule rankings as an FBS-bound program which
is over the FCS limit for football scholarships). At least they were among the
easiest according to their opponents' cumulative record.
The biggest alarm may have sounded for Wofford last week. The Terriers had the
fifth-easiest schedule in the first half of the season and were set to face
the second-toughest schedule in the second half (keep in mind the strength of
schedule list is fluid from week to week and changes this week).
In addition to Wofford's game against Georgia Southern on Saturday (a 17-9
loss), the Terriers still go to Appalachian State next Saturday and have road
games at Samford and South Carolina later this season. They also face The
Citadel and Chattanooga at home, so the schedule is daunting enough to think
they could fall apart and miss the FCS playoffs - one of their five wins was
against Division II Lincoln (Pa.) and doesn't count toward the seven Division
I wins certainly needed for an at-large playoff bid.
Conversely, the strength of schedule suggests brighter days for some teams.
For example, Eastern Kentucky was ranked as having the 12th-toughest schedule
in the first half of the season, but moved into the 12th-easiest schedule for
the second half.
EKU went out and routed Austin Peay to improve to 5-2 - which wasn't
surprising - and still boasts a manageable schedule the rest of the way.
Some teams get little break. Defending CAA Football champion Towson faced
tough teams in the first half of its schedule (Kent State, LSU and James
Madison) and still have plenty more in the second half (Old Dominion,
Villanova, Delaware and New Hampshire).
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
A recap of games in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at
Who's No. 1? Opinions should vary when the new Top 25 is released Monday
Defending national champion North Dakota State might hold onto the top spot
considering it lost by only a field goal to Indiana State on Saturday.
James Madison, No. 4 this past week, was the highest-ranked team to survive
Saturday's rash of upsets, and seemingly has a shot at reaching the top spot.
Eastern Washington could even leap from No. 6 to No. 1, having now beaten FBS
Idaho and defending Big Sky co-champions Montana and Montana State (27-24 on
Saturday), and has only lost by four points to FBS Washington State.
STOCK RISING, STOCK FALLING
Rising: Stony Brook senior running back Miguel Maysonet may have moved into
the favorite's role for the Walter Payton Award with Old Dominion quarterback
Taylor Heinicke recently posting pedestrian numbers for his high standard.
Maysonet has set a career high for rushing yards in three of his last four
games, lifting himself to 1,121 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground in Stony
Brook's seven games.
Falling: Montana might have played itself out of the FCS playoffs for a
second time in three seasons with a 30-20 loss at home to Southern Utah. The
Grizzlies (3-4, 1-3 Big Sky) made an FCS-record 17 straight playoff
appearances from 1993-2009.
AROUND THE NATION
Big Sky: Sacramento State enjoyed a big defensive effort in topping Weber
State, 19-14, to improve to 5-2. The Hornets collected five sacks and forced
three turnovers, while Todd Davis (11), Jeff Badger (11) and Ryan McMahon (10)
all reached double figures in tackles ... UC Davis had 647 yards of total
offense in its 52-45 win over Idaho State. Randy Wright threw for three
touchdowns and Courtney Williams rushed for three TDs.
Big South: Maybe there will be a title race after all. Liberty improved to 2-0
in conference play by throttling Presbyterian, 56-7, behind Aldreakis Allen's
183 yards and four touchdowns on the ground ... Defending champion Stony Brook
also is 2-0 in conference play after escaping from Coastal Carolina, 27-21.
The No. 11 Seawolves have to go to Liberty on Nov. 10.
CAA Football: In all five of Villanova's wins, including 38-14 at Old Dominion
on Saturday, the Wildcats have held opponents to 14 or fewer points, verifying
the type of defense that coach Andy Talley thought he had this season. The
balanced unit features 11 players who have between 20 and 46 tackles, led by
Ronnie Akins ... It doesn't get easier for ODU and Heinicke. Next Saturday,
they travel to Towson (3-3), which is in survival mode ... Georgia State (1-6)
won a battle of winless teams by dominating Rhode Island, 41-7. Donald Russell
rushed for a school-record 201 yards on 21 carries, scoring two touchdowns.
Does URI (0-6) really want to stay in the CAA?
Ivy: Nobody came from nowhere on Saturday as much as Cornell's Chris Amrhein.
The senior stepped in for injured Jeff Mathews (neck injury) and threw for 523
yards - the second-highest total in Big Red history - in a 41-38 win over
Monmouth. Luke Tasker caught 11 passes for a school-record 280 yards and a
touchdown and Silas Nacita rushed for four touchdowns, offsetting Kyle
Frazier's 451 yards and four touchdowns through the air for Monmouth ...
Princeton shut out Brown, 19-0, to end the Bears' Ivy League record 162-game
scoring streak. Caraun Reid had a safety, four tackles for loss and 2 1/2
sacks, and Princeton's defense had two interceptions and six sacks against
Brown quarterback Patrick Donnelly. The surging Tigers won a combined two
games in coach Bob Surace's first two seasons, but are 3-2 this season ... In
Penn's 24-20 win over Columbia, quarterback Billy Ragone engineered his sixth
career comeback in the fourth quarter or overtime.
MEAC: Surprising North Carolina Central (4-2, 3-0) moved atop the conference
standings with idle Bethune-Cookman after defeating Morgan State, 24-20. Tight
end Detwan Robinson's 26-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown with 25 seconds
left provided the game-winning score ... Hampton earned its first win by
topping Norfolk State, 28-14, in the Battle of the Bay. Jeremi Schwartz rushed
for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and Lyndell Gibson had two interceptions and
four pass breakups.
Missouri Valley: Linebacker Bryan Presume had a 100-yard fumble return
for a touchdown in Southern Illinois' 34-31 triumph over Northern Iowa, which
at 1-5 has to win out to avoid a losing season ... Austin Witmer's 33-yard
field goal as time expired gave Missouri State its first win, 27-24 over South
Dakota ... FCS rushing leader Zach Zenner of South Dakota State has rushed for
at least 171 yards and a touchdown in each of the Jackrabbits' six games. He
is on pace for 2,288 yards this season.
Northeast: In one of the day's more stunning scores - on a day with many of
them - Duquesne fell at winless Central Connecticut State, 38-31. The Blue
Devils' Andrew Clements had three total touchdowns (two rushing, one passing)
... In Albany's 36-13 win over St. Francis (Pa.), running back Drew Smith
scored three touchdowns to raise his FCS-best total to 15.
Ohio Valley: UT Martin's Derek Carr completed an incredible 42-of-46 passes
for 560 yards and seven touchdowns in a 66-59 win over Murray State. How many
quarterbacks can say they threw for eight touchdowns and lose? Murray State's
Casey Brockman did, going 45-for-67 for 537 yards. The two teams combined for
1,440 yards ... On Separation Saturday in the OVC, Eastern Illinois (4-3, 3-1)
kept pace in the race by edging Jacksonville State, 31-28. The Panthers picked
off three passes ... Tennessee State (7-0, 3-0) leads the race by one-half
game over Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky and UT Martin - each 3-1.
Patriot: They call it the "Double-Mac Attack" at Colgate. The Raiders' duo of
quarterback Gavin McCarney and tailback Jordan McCord combined on 367 rushing
yards and seven total touchdowns in a 51-35 victory over Holy Cross. The
Raiders have won three of their last four games ... When a team wins 16
straight regular-season wins, it finds ways to capture games. Tenth-ranked
Lehigh (7-0) has won four of its last five games by two or three points,
including 17-14 at Georgetown on Saturday.
Pioneer: Butler, Dayton and Jacksonville all won on the road to stay atop the
league race at 4-0 ... Davidson fell to Jacksonville, 34-24, but Lanny Funsten
caught a PFL- record 17 passes for 246 yards and broke Davidson's all-time
reception and receiving yardage records ... Dayton used a 39-yard hook-and-
lateral - wide receiver Ross Smith to a streaking Robert Washington out of the
backfield - to close the first half of its 41-27 win over Morehead State.
SoCon: In its 200th game at Paulson Stadium, Georgia Southern improved to
169-31 by beating Wofford, 17-9. Having set the FCS single-game record by not
attempting a pass, the Eagles have put the ball in the air only 33 times in
six games ... At 378 yards, Western Carolina "held" The Citadel's triple
option in check in a 45-31 loss. Earlier this season, Wofford (590 yards) and
Georgia Southern (614) completely shredded the Catamounts' defense with their
Southland: After a 27-22 win over Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana
is 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1974, and for the first
time in the Southland Conference. Freshman Xavier Roberson carried the ball 15
times for 85 yards and two touchdowns before the Lions headed into their bye
week ... Late-game meltdowns have led to two one-point losses for McNeese
State in conference play. Next up: a visit to Sam Houston State. Gulp.
SWAC: There are no unbeaten SWAC teams after Alabama A&M fell to Alcorn State,
27-24. The Braves only had 211 yards in their win, but slowed A&M quarterback
Deaunte Mason just enough ... Alabama State failed to take advantage of A&M's
loss in the East Division race, falling at home to Jackson State, 37-34 ...
Mississippi Valley State routed Grambling State, 45-21, for its first victory
over the winless Tigers since 1996. Sophomore Julian Stafford had seven
catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns along with an 88-yard kickoff return
for a score. He finished with 263 all-purpose yards.
Extra Point: Lehigh (7-0), Tennessee State (7-0), Cal Poly (6-0) and Harvard
(5-0) are the only unbeaten teams in the FCS after Alabama A&M, Montana State,
North Dakota State, Old Dominion and Wofford all fell on Saturday.
A LOOK AHEAD
No rest for the weary: Some of next Saturday's big conference games are
Wofford at Appalachian State in the SoCon, Old Dominion at Towson in the CAA
and McNeese State at Sam Houston State in the Southland.
Other key conference games: Big Sky, Portland State at Cal Poly, UC Davis at
Northern Arizona and Sacramento State at Eastern Washington; CAA, New
Hampshire at Maine in their 100th meeting and James Madison at Richmond; Ivy,
Harvard at Princeton; Missouri Valley, Southern Illinois at Youngstown State,
South Dakota State at Northern Iowa, Indiana State at Western Illinois and
North Dakota State at South Dakota in Sioux Falls; OVC, Tennessee State at
Jacksonville State, UT Martin at Southeast Missouri State and Eastern Kentucky
at Tennessee Tech; Patriot, Georgetown at Colgate and Holy Cross at Lafayette;
Pioneer, San Diego at Jacksonville; SoCon, Georgia Southern at Furman, Samford
at Chattanooga; and SWAC, Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Southern.
The Sports Network