(STATS) – An interesting scenario emerges from the two FCS Top 10 teams that lost on Saturday – No. 9 New Hampshire and No. 10 North Dakota.
UND lost in the only Top 25 matchup of the week, 45-7 to No. 23 South Dakota. Naturally, USD (3-0), which was coming off an FBS win over Bowling Green, deserves to move ahead of the rival Fighting Hawks (1-2) and probably will in the new STATS FCS Top 25 on Monday.
But what happens to UNH (2-1) after it was blasted by Holy Cross 51-26? The Wildcats had quality wins (Maine and Georgia Southern) entering the game, while Holy Cross didn’t receive a single vote on 159 ballots last week. Don’t the Crusaders (2-1), who have the same record (with a close loss to UConn and a shutout of Bucknell) and won decisively in the head-to-head, have a beef when UNH remains ahead of them?
Here are five takeaways from Week 3 of the FCS season:
– It’s a good thing for the Patriot League that Holy Cross posted the rousing win over New Hampshire, because Saturday was tough otherwise. The thought of two FCS playoff bids coming out of the league is blowing up. Defending champ Lehigh is an unfathomable 0-3 after suffering a 56-28 loss to Yale (3-7 last season) and Fordham (1-2) is set back by All-America running back Chase Edmonds’ leg and ankle injuries. Both teams were ranked in the preseason and would probably only make the playoffs with the league’s automatic bid. Add in Holy Cross, the only team with a winning record, and Colgate (1-2) and the fight for that bid will be fierce.
– Speaking of struggling teams, Chattanooga is 0-3 to start the Tom Arth era. Losing to Jacksonville State and LSU was expected, but the Mocs needed to beat a pretty strong UT Martin squad in its home opener and didn’t, falling 21-7. Teams don’t necessarily know what they’re getting when they schedule an opponent a couple years out, but playing too tough of a non-conference schedule in an 11-game season can surely backfire (read Cal Poly as well). A cupcake is sometimes needed, and some programs only throw one in during a 12-game season.
– Chattanooga can still come back in the Southern Conference race, but the Mocs better be prepared for tight games. Preseason favorite Wofford edged Furman and Mercer by one point each to open the season, needing to overcome a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against Mercer. The Citadel, the two-time defending champion, had to overcome a 10-point deficit midway through the third quarter to win at ETSU 31-25. Since the start of the 2013 season, 45 percent of SoCon games have been decided by one possession.
– With all due respect to defending FCS champion James Madison and CAA Football, there’s a little gap to what the Missouri Valley Football Conference is doing in non-conference play. It’s beating up stronger teams than what the CAA is facing, including a 5-2 lead in the Big Sky/MVFC Challenge Series. Illinois State dominated Eastern Illinois 44-13 in the Mid-America Classic, and there’s seven teams in the Top 25 that doesn’t even include 2-0 Southern Illinois. The upcoming conference schedule will ruin some of the records, but going 4-4 in the Valley can lead to a playoff bid.
– Alphabet soup: Let’s hear it for the HBCUs in the FCS upsets of the FBS. North Carolina A&T made it three from the historically black colleges and universities to register a win over an FBS opponent with its 35-31 victory at Charlotte. Coach Rod Broadway’s Aggies joined fellow MEAC member Howard (43-40 over UNLV) and OVC member Tennessee State (17-10 over Georgia State) to form the hat trick. That’s two straight years with an FBS win for the Aggies, who notched their first ever at Kent State last season. Add in Idaho State’s 30-28 surprise at Nevada and the FCS is up to eight wins coming from six different conferences. The MEAC and CAA (James Madison and New Hampshire) are the only conferences with more than one win.
– We always like a good bonus takeaway: Ivy League teams went 6-2 on their opening day – all against opponents that had played two games already. While Ivy coaches lament this factor year after year, consider their teams got to spend an offseason focusing on their opponents heading into the games, while their opponents weren’t concentrating on them until their second game was over.