North Carolina A&T and Idaho State picked-up two more 2017 FCS victories over FBS teams in the third full week of college football.
There have been eight FCS victories over FBS teams so far in 2017. Whether last year’s total of 10 such wins will be exceeded remains to be seen, but further opportunities will dwindle after this coming weekend as conference play will dominate the schedules.
North Carolina A&T 35 at Charlotte 31 – North Carolina A&T was good enough to get an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs last year. Additionally, they were picked to win or place second in the MEAC by various outlets.
The Aggies get another of the FCS victories over FBS teams for the MEAC and the HBCU. I said last week these are rare wins for the MEAC, in specific, and the HBCU, in general, but this is the second time this year. Howard pulled the monster upset against UNLV (and see below for the second MWC loss to an FCS outfit this year, completing the sweep of The Silver State’s FBS programs). Last year, A&T also pulled off the feat, beating Kent State, of the MAC. In 2014, Bethune-Cookman did it against C-USA member Florida International. It has only been in recent years that I have really noticed the commonplace scheduling of teams from the MEAC and SWAC by FBS teams for their FCS games. Considering this, the fact that once the opportunity has been given to these HBCU representatives, the results have been there, a sociological implication that extends to the football field as well as the world beyond. Political football aside, this is really nothing more than just flat playing good football.
My main interest is the who, what, when, where, why and how of these FCS victories over FBS teams on the field. There are usually very good football reasons and this year’s theme du jour seems to be turnovers (really, an annual affair). A 74 yard pick-six with 24 seconds left helped to seal the win for the Aggies as well as the Charlotte 49ers’ continuing quest for their first win of the season. Truth be told though, the Aggies never trailed in this game after the 49ers’ initial 7-0 lead.
Charlotte (C-USA) is hosting Georgia State (Sun Belt) this weekend. Georgia State is also a FCS v. FBS victim this year, losing to Tennessee State. The Panthers have not won a game this year, either, and the current line favoring them by one suggests that the upcoming battle, while one of futility, could be a very good one.
It was not so long ago that Charlotte started their football program from scratch. This is their fifth season, with three in the FBS after starting as an FCS program. This is a remarkable undertaking and a few bumps in the road are to be expected. Charlotte has excellent and enthusiastic fan support.
Idaho State 30 at Nevada 28 – Idaho State held off a furious comeback by Nevada to win this battle of former Big Sky buddies. Idaho State, still in the Big Sky, has had a rough road since winning the Division I-AA (FCS) National Championship in 1981, their last playoff appearance in 1983, and a shared Big Sky Championship in 2002. They finished last in the Big Sky last year and have been picked to repeat that inglorious result this year. But, bucking those predictions, the Bengals picked up a huge regional win against Nevada.
Fans of the Nevada Wolf Pack (MWC) must feel like recent glory days under their legendary former head man, Chris Ault, are long ago and far away. Head Coach Jay Norvell is in his first year. One hold-over from the Ault era is the use of the triple-option type, Pistol formation, which plays somewhat of a second fiddle to Nevada’s new Air Raid attack.
Air Raid Attack! Air Raid Attack! Take cover because Nevada (0-3) is at 18th-ranked Washington State (3-0) Saturday. Nevada’s Offensive Coordinator, Matt Mumme, is the son of Hal Mumme, inventor of the Air Raid attack, who taught it to a then young coach named Mike Leach, he of the famous Air Raid attacks of Texas Tech and, now, Washington State. Translation: If you love the passing game, you might just want to check this one out Saturday. The Cougars average 408.3 yards per game passing. However, note that Nevada’s version of the Air Raid features more than twice as much rushing yardage as that of the Cougars and just over half the passing yardage. As of this writing, the Wolf Pack is a whopping 28 point dog to the cats of the Palouse.