If you’ll forgive me for using a movie quote or two—my brain is loaded with useless quotes and song lyrics—let’s take a look at the FCS season so far.
In Gladiator, Maximus takes down a handful of men single-handed. He then throws a sword into the silent crowd and yells, “Are you not entertained?!?! Is this not why you are here?!?!” As for us, we ARE entertained, Maximus. It’s been quite the first few weeks.
FCS teams have logged ten wins over FBS level teams thus far. This includes Montana’s 13-7 shutdown of the #20 Washington Huskies Sept 4, as well as thrilling wins by Jacksonville State over FSU and Northern Arizona over the Arizona Wildcats. It’s not unusual to see a few such wins, but this year has been special so far. Now they’re all into conference play, and things are about to get heavy.
He Arrives Precisely When He Means To!
Gandalf famously says this of wizards, including himself, when accused of being late. This week, a few ranked teams found themselves in the “just in time” category. #12 UC Davis sweated out a 17-14 victory over #14 Weber State, and #1 Sam Houston State scored 14 in the fourth quarter to down Central Arkansas 45-35.
And in the realm of big comebacks, Alcorn State overcame a 26-7 halftime deficit to take down Arkansas-Pine Bluff 39-38 on Friday. Felix Harper was only 16-32 passing (including one INT) but threw for 368 yards and 3 touchdowns in leading the comeback.
What’s The Most You Ever Lost On A Coin Toss?
Chigurh asks this of the man in the gas station in, one of the tensest scenes of the 2007 movie "No Country for Old Men". And there appear to be a couple of potential coin-toss games this week. #5 North Dakota State travels to Grand Forks to face the #10 North Dakota Fighting Hawks. ESPN+ will carry this matchup, which is set for 8pm BST. This will be a good one for UK viewers.
The marquis TV game is #4 Montana at #6 Eastern Washington. Both teams have impressed so far and have both defeated FBS opponents. ESPN has flexed this game to Saturday night on ESPN 2. It will be a late start even for me, 10:30pm EST. But we’ll hope it’s one worth the late night. Saturday’s tilt will be the first Big Sky Conference game ever broadcast on ESPN 2.
Eagles QB Eric Barriere is on a tear, throwing for 500+ yards in consecutive games. No one on the FCS level has done so since 2011. Against Southern Utah, Barriere was 30-43 for 518 yards and 4 TDs.
On the Grizzlies’ side, the defense has been the star. Marcus Welnel and Patrick O’Connell lead a group that held offenses scoreless through 34 consecutive drives. That encompassed ten total quarters and 165 minutes of playing time, until Cal Poly scored in the fourth quarter Saturday.
This marks the 47th meeting between the Eagles and Griz, during which Montana has a 28-17-1 edge. The Grizzlies have had some difficulty winning in Cheney however and have not won there since EWU installed red turf in 2010.
Wait, was that RED TURF? Yes. Boise State’s blue looks a bit odd and Coastal Carolina’s teal looks as if the color is a bit off on the TV, but the Eagles’ red turf is…interesting. No doubt that will be subject of much conversation prior to the game. EWU is also planning a “Blackout” game, which will no doubt look impressive against the red field backdrop.
But then there is the game. And no matter the victor, let’s all hope no one will have to ask us, “Are you not entertained?!?!” after the final whistle.