FCS Football Week 2 Breakdown
All right, so the first week of the Football Championship Series season is complete, and if you’re not familiar with the FCS your first reaction might be this:
Are these teams any good?
Keep in mind a few of the elite FCS programs played Football Bowl Series teams to start the year. Just because Appalachian State suffered a 66-13 setback at the hands of Virginia Tech doesn’t mean the FCS No. 1 team in the nation isn’t worth the ranking it was given. Once the Mountaineers get into regular FCS competition things will even out quickly.
Week two of the season spotlights a pair of solid top-25 matchups already. Who said the early weeks of college football weren’t exciting?
NO. 5 NORTHERN IOWA AT NO. 23 STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (7 p.m. Saturday at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches, Texas)
These teams battled it out in the third week of the 2010 season with Stephen F. Austin prevailing 22-20. It was the second of six straight victories for SFA on the way to a 9-3 season and a Southland Conference championship. The Lumberjacks are coming off an 82-6 whipping of McMurry, the second-highest point total in SFA history and the fourth time the Lumberjacks have scored 60 or more points in J.C. Harper’s run as head coach. Quarterbacks Brady Attaway and Dalton Williams had a field day with McMurry; Attaway was 27-for-37 for 275 yards and four touchdowns, and Williams threw 15-for-22 for 163 yards and two scores. Northern Iowa, one of the more dangerous FCS teams, came within two points of upending Big 12 Conference stalwart Iowa State. The Panthers ended up on the short end of a 20-19 decision when Iowa State scored the winning TD with less than a minute to go. David Johnson scored two touchdowns on a 1-yard run and an 80-yard pass from quarterback Tirrell Rennie. Rennie was the all-purpose threat with 127 rushing yards, 181 passing yards and his TD throw to Johnson.
NO. 24 UC-DAVIS AT NO. 6 MONTANA STATE (3:05 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont.)
Another strong top-25 matchup features the Bobcats, who lost last week at Utah by a 27-10 margin. Despite the loss, Montana State outrushed Utah 139-119 in the second half and played more evenly following a 24-7 halftime deficit. The only offensive touchdown for Montana State came when Tanner Bleskin caught a 7-yard pass from quarterback DeNarius McGhee. Otherwise, it was the Bobcat defense that shined behind sacks by Zach Minter and Brad Daly and a 12-tackle performance by Jody Owens. UC-Davis rushers Nick Aprile and Josh Reese accounted for UC-Davis’ touchdowns in a 48-14 loss to Arizona State. Quarterback Randy Wright threw for 130 yards but was sacked five times by ASU’s defense. This meeting is a preview of what’s to come for UC-Davis, which currently is in the Great West Conference. UCD moves to the Big Sky, Montana State’s home, next year.
NO. 8 NEW HAMPSHIRE AT NO. 19 LEHIGH (12:30 p.m. Saturday at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pa.)
The Northeast’s hottest FCS game this weekend will be in Pennsylvania, as the Wildcats travel down to the Allentown-Bethlehem corridor to take on Lehigh in what should be an entertaining tilt. This game has a “Six Degrees of Separation” feel to it regarding the FCS playoffs from last year. Lehigh won the Patriot League and stunned Northern Iowa in the first round. Lehigh then fell to Delaware in the second round and New Hampshire fell to Delaware in the FCS quarterfinals. Depending on how things shake out, who knows if these teams will meet in this year’s playoffs? New Hampshire lost 58-22 to Toledo in last week’s opening matchup. New Hampshire’s early scores were short ones; Chris Setian caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Decker and Decker later ran in a 1-yard score. Nico Steriti then rattled off an 87-yard run to complete the scoring in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Lehigh defeated Monmouth 49-24 in the first game as quarterback Chris Lum exploded for 346 yards and four touchdowns on 22-for-34 passing, and Zach Barket ran 13 times for 80 yards and a pair of scores.
NO. 12 JACKSONVILLE STATE AT NO. 15 CHATTANOOGA (6 p.m. Saturday at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.)
The second game in a row for Jacksonville State against a Tennessee opponent will be a big one for both squads. Jacksonville State began the Ohio Valley Conference schedule last week with a 24-23 victory over Tennessee-Martin, thanks to Calvin Middleton’s 4-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining in the game. UT-Martin led 17-7 at halftime before Jacksonville State rallied for the win. The Gamecocks have a decent passing game, as evidenced by Coty Blanchard’s 9-for-17, 133-yard performance and a 56-yard, 5-for-10 effort from Marques Ivory. Jacksonville State allowed 475 yards against UT-Martin while gaining just 300 yards on its own, so that could pose a problem for the Gamecocks. Chattanooga comes off a 40-7 loss to Nebraska in its opener and has a 25-10 edge in the all-time series. However, the Gamecocks have won five of the last six meetings between these schools, including last year’s 21-17 win. B.J. Coleman’s 13-yard pass to Marlon Anthony accounted for Chattanooga’s only score. This game will be much closer.
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE AT NO. 16 JAMES MADISON (6 p.m. Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Va.)
Central Connecticut State is not in the top 25, but the team is picked to win the Northeast Conference so the Dukes aren’t going to have an easy time against this team. This is the first meeting between James Madison and any NEC school for that matter. James Madison lost to North Carolina, 42-10, in last week’s opening game. Justin Thorpe threw for 152 yards and a touchdown on 11-for-15 passing, and Dean Marlowe managed an interception, but otherwise it was not a good opening week for the Dukes. CCSU beat in-state rival Southern Connecticut State, 35-21, a week ago despite being outgained 284-271 on offense. The Blue Devils scored touchdowns in numerous ways last week, including a pair of Deven Baker touchdown receptions, a Gene Johnson fumble return and a Matthew Tyrell kickoff return.