In Case You Missed It: Week 2
The last time an FCS team beat a ranked FBS opponent came back in the 2013 season, when Eastern Washington and then-No. 25 Oregon State went punch-for-punch offensively as the Eagles squeezed out a 49-46 victory on an Aug. 31 afternoon.
They say close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and Jacksonville State head coach John Grass will likely be the first to say the same after his Gamecocks fell to sixth-ranked Auburn in overtime on Saturday, 27-20.
But for everyone else on the outside looking in, Jacksonville State’s loss to the Tigers sure seems at least a little like a victory.
The Gamecocks held a 10-6 lead over perennial powerhouse Auburn at halftime, and with 5:38 left to play in the contest a five-yard Troymaine Pope touchdown run gave the visitors a 20-13 lead. Visions of Appalachian State and Michigan swirled as the upset loomed.
The SEC Tigers knotted the game, however, with 39 seconds to play, and won it in overtime. Jacksonville State kicker Connor Rouleau went 2-for-4 on field goal attempts in the game, showing a glimpse at what could have been.
The overtime loss for the Gamecocks was as close as any FCS team came to defeating an FBS opponent this weekend. In case you missed the Week 2 FCS action, here are some quieter stats and headlines to know:
Jacksonville State made the headlines by potentially boosting its stock with the overtime loss to sixth-ranked Auburn, but watch out for Portland State in the upcoming polls. The Vikings took down FBS opponent Washington State last weekend, and downed No. 23 Idaho State handedly, 34-14, on Saturday.
Portland State held the explosive Bengals’ offense to a mere 242 total yards, which included just 61 rushing. The Vikings also forced four Idaho State turnovers en route to the victory. Keep an eye out for PSU as they head into a bye week looking to load up for a Sept. 26 contest against Western Oregon.
Speaking of likely poll risers, South Dakota State proved the Week 1 victory over Big 12 member Kansas wasn’t at all a fluke. The Jackrabbits thrashed Southern Utah, 55-10, Saturday behind another gaudy rushing attack. Brady Mengarelli was the beneficiary of the major workload this time around, gaining 143 yards and scoring three touchdowns on 17 carries. Sophomore receiver Jake Wieneke pumped up his stats once again with a two-touchdown and 205-yard receiving performance.
The only receiver with a better showing through two weeks (at least in terms of yards and touchdowns) is Eastern Washington pass catcher Cooper Kupp. The junior, who is on pace to have one of the better receiving careers statistically in history, hauled in nine receptions against Northern Iowa for 179 yards and a pair of scores. That gives the former Jerry Rice Award winner 425 yards and five touchdowns through two weeks. The only problem is his Eastern team is 0-2 after the narrow 38-35 defeat to the Panthers.
Finding offense hasn’t been an issue for teams like Kennesaw State, James Madison and Samford. The three programs have all scored over 100 combined points through two weeks. Kennesaw State leads the FCS averaging 57.0 ppg, followed by the Dukes (55.0 ppg) and the Bulldogs (51.5 ppg).
The same goes for The Citadel and its flourishing ground game, which “only” gained 341 yards rushing over the weekend in the team’s 28-10 win over Western Carolina. The Bulldogs lead the nation with 438.0 rushing ypg through two weeks, and have scored an FCS-best 12 times via the ground.
Two top-ranked teams came back with a vengeance Saturday after suffering season-opening losses. Four-time reigning national champion North Dakota State clearly wasn’t happy about its loss to Montana two weeks ago, so the Bison took their frustrations out on Weber State. NDSU limited the Wildcats to six total first downs as the Big Sky Conference program went just 1-for-13 on third-down conversion attempts. The Bison rolled to a 41-14 victory.
Illinois State, the reigning national runners-up, dominated Morgan State to the tune of a 67-14 victory. Quarterback Tre Roberson and running back Marshaun Coprich combined for seven touchdowns against the Bears (four passing for Roberson, three rushing for Coprich).
Things keep getting worse for Rhode Island, which dropped a 35-7 contest to CAA foe Albany. The Rams turned the ball over six times against the Great Danes, which included four lost fumbles.
Morehead State dropped a 43-40 contest to VMI in an aerial assault. Eagles quarterback Austin Gahafer threw a whopping 62 pass attempts in the loss, connecting on 35 of those throws. He and VMI quarterback Al Cobb combined for 103 pass attempts and 62 completions in the contest.
Bethune-Cookman and Grambling State fought it out in a battle between two HBCU programs Saturday that led to an overwhelming offensive performance. The two teams combined for 1,047 yards of total offense and 109 points in B-CU’s 56-53 win.
Finally, Southern Illinois may be 0-2 to start the season, but the Salukis should by no means be a team to underestimate. Starting quarterback Mark Iannotti leads the FCS in total offense per game through the first two weeks, averaging 426.0 ypg. He’s third in the FCS in passing yards per contest (352.5), and is averaging 14.1 passing yards per completion. His completion percentage sits at a healthy 72.5 percent.