Great day of college football last night, for those that follow me on Twitter, I apologize for all the tweets but that was a great day and night to watch some FCS football, we nearly had a couple more teams join the FCS upset parade, Sam Houston State led Baylor 20-10 at the break, before 3 second half turnovers and a goal line stand and lost 48-23, but Cal Poly did come thru beating Wyoming 24-22, giving the Big Sky a 4th FBS win, a fact we’ll delve into a little later on the blog. By the way, that’s 3 FCS losses for the Mountain West Conference (Colorado State to NDSU; UNLV to Northern Arizona and now Wyoming); for a league that’s losing Boise State next year to the Big East, that’s certaintly not as appealing as it was even 2 years ago when Utah was unbeaten in the league. Anyway on to the impressions from the weekend:
- Shakir Bell is very good. The detractors will say his performance was against a non-scholarship school; but 349 rushing yards and two touchdowns is an incredible game. That’s a Missouri Valley record, it’s the 8th best total in FCS history and serves notice the Sycamores will be a factor in the league race one way or the other.
- Zach Zenner is very good. It’s been a couple years for the Jacks to replace Kyle Minnett, but they’ve found their guy in Zenner, who is 2nd in the FCS behind Bell in rushing. (EDIT: Zenner actually leads FCS w/658 yards, Bell has 610) Zenner racked up 197 yards and 2 touchdowns, this comes after he had 278 yards and a touchdown last week against Southeastern Louisiana. The Jacks go to Terre Haute in one of the 2 must-see games in conference-opening play weekend, those two guys alone will make that a great game, too close to call right now who wins it.
- Matt Brown is very good. The Illinois State quarterback, in his 4th year at the helm had a great game, 473 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Redbirds survived a scare from Eastern Illinois 54-51 in overtime. That was a perfect trap game for ISU, coming off the big FBS win over Eastern Michigan, but they got the W, now the test begins, two straight roadies, at Western Illinois, then South Dakota.
- The Valley put together a 5-3 record Saturday, Northern Iowa played Iowa tough for 2.5 quarters before the Hawkeyes pulled away, UNI is 1-2, but in the eyes of the committee, they’re actually 0-1, the 2 FBS losses we’re told DO NOT hurt you, but what does is playing a D-2 team, so that win doesn’t count. So now as the conference play begins, the Panthers have to think realistically they need to go at the least 6-2 or 7-1 to make the FCS playoffs. A 6-2 record brings their total record to 7-4, but with only 6 D-1 wins. If two of those D1 wins are over Youngstown and NDSU, UNI will go dancing. Western Illinois lost to an improving Iowa State team, the league is now 3-8 against the FBS, one game left against the big boys, that’s this week when South Dakota goes to Northwestern.
- Game of the Year #1: It comes this week in Youngstown with the Penguins hosting Northern Iowa. Remember UNI scored the go-ahead touchdown on YSU after 7 tries inside the 8 yard line, Penguins will for sure have some hard feelings about how that game ended, and have a chance to show they’re for real in the Valley conference race. It may seem like a stretch but the next 2 weeks could go a long way to telling who’s going to be in the conference race, if UNI loses at Youngstown, but beats NDSU, they’re right back in it, if YSU loses to UNI, but beats NDSU, then they’re still alive. Going to make the next 3 weeks must watch football, to quote my buddy Bart Scott, “Can’t Wait!”
- Finally this is a debatable topic perfect for the blog and something Jeff and I will continue this week, we said last week that the Missouri Valley had taken the mantle from the CAA as “The SEC of FCS” We may have to change that stance this week after Cal Poly’s win, that makes 4 Big Sky FBS wins this year(joining Northern Arizona, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State) to the Valley’s 3 (NDSU, Illinois State, Youngstown) Question is who’s got the best league going? Now the Big Sky has 3 more teams than the Valley, but I guess look at it from this perspective, the bottom half teams, who is better? Who would win more; Western Illinois, South Dakota, Missouri State facing Northern Arizona, Weber State, Idaho State and Northern Colorado? Let’s have some good debate!