College Football

10 takeaways from FCS Week 5


STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - North Dakota State, South Dakota State and most of the Missouri Valley Football Conference may have had it right with taking off this weekend.

Week 5 of the FCS season featured upsets, plenty of wild games and five of the top 13 teams falling, including blowout losses by No. 4 UC Davis and No. 11 Jacksonville State. The good news is at least one of those two teams won the mail-in effort of the week award.

Here are 10 takeaways from Week 5 of the FCS season:

- Montana got the statement win it has long-needed, drilling No. 4 UC Davis 45-20 for the biggest victory in Bobby Hauck's second coaching stint and probably its most important since a 2015 FCS playoff win over South Dakota State. Quarterback Dalton Snead fueled the No. 18 Griz with 349 yards of total offense and five touchdown passes. The win was much-needed because the Big Sky is crazy good, with Saturday's action including No. 7 Montana State's 49-31 rally past Northern Arizona and No. 21 Eastern Washington rebounding in the snow in its 1,000th all-time game to beat North Dakota 35-20 one week after falling to Idaho, which promptly lost to previously winless Idaho.

- Dominating. There's probably no better way to describe how No. 2 James Madison played in a 45-10 rout of No. 24 Elon in the STATS FCS Game of the Week. The Dukes (4-1) are a solid No. 2 behind FCS champ North Dakota State in the STATS FCS Top 25 and may grab some more first-place votes following first-year coach Curt Cignetti's triumphant return to Elon, his former program. His team's defensive line is arguably the best in the FCS and the Dukes' run game has more than four times as many rushing yards (1,280 to 309) as the opposition. Yes, dominating.

- Add No. 8 Villanova's 33-17 win over No. 12 Maine (it really wasn't that close) and No. 5 Weber State's 29-17 coast past No. 9 Northern Iowa to the Montana and James Madison triumphs and the four head-to-head matchups of Top 25 teams were decided by an average of 22 points. That's like a Bison Top 25 game.

- The word for Samford's 61-55, four-overtime win over No. 25 The Citadel was "scintillating." It had eight lead changes and five ties. Samford quarterback Liam Welch came on for an injured Chris Oladokun and accounted for four touchdowns, including a 2-yard run to end the fourth extra session. Speaking of injured QBs, The Citadel's Brandon Rainey was heroic as he made it through on a gimpy knee, accounting for five scores.

- They're here! Yes, Youngstown State arrived at 4-0 in nonconference games - a possibility that was evident even last winter - by handling Robert Morris 45-10. Each win has been by at least 20 points. The question is, how will that translate during the MVFC schedule? A 4-4 split would likely get them in the FCS playoffs for only the second time since 2006 (joining their 2016 team that made a seventh all-time appearance in the national final). The 'Guins travel to UNI next Saturday and host South Dakota State a week later. Those games will be more telling, but coach Bo Pelini's squad has impressed by running the ball well and forcing turnovers at a high rate.

- The Caylin Newton era could be over at Howard. Cam Newton's younger brother, the 2017 MEAC rookie of the year and 2018 offensive player of the year, halted his junior season after four games, perhaps preserving the year of eligibility by redshirting for the remainder of the season. He informed the program on Friday he would sit out the Bison's 37-29 loss at Bethune-Cookman while he considers his future options. Newton is having his worst season in coach Ron Prince's first campaign and Howard entered the weekend last in the FCS in sacks allowed. Freshman Quinton Williams got the start in place of Newton and accounted for four touchdowns.

- Who's the most surprising FCS team? Take your pick between Houston Baptist and Tennessee Tech, which are both 4-1. The two upstarts combined for four wins total over the 2017 and '18 seasons (and only three against Division I competition). They're both led by a quarterback named Bailey - Houston Baptist's Bailey Zappe, who passed for seven touchdowns against Texas Southern, and Tennessee Tech's Bailey Fisher, who had six against Eastern Illinois.

- Fisher and Zappe weren't alone. Princeton's Kevin Davidson had a school-record seven touchdown passes as the defending Ivy League champ topped Bucknell 59-23 and improved to 2-0 in their 150th season of football. Who knows how many Davidson would have thrown if he faced Rutgers instead. Also, Alcorn State's Felix Harper and Idaho State's Matt Struck both passed for six touchdowns in wins.

- Rivals Sam Houston State and McNeese - back together for the first time since 2016 - waged a terrific battle in the Southland Conference before the visiting Bearkats scored two touchdowns in a span of 1 minute, 35 seconds in the fourth quarter to prevail 28-17. Wide receiver Nathan Stewart had his second consecutive big outing, catching one of Ty Brock's three TD passes. The Bearkats moved back above .500 at 3-2, earning their 95th win of the decade - second-most behind North Dakota State.

- Sure enough, UT Martin beat Murray State 40-7 in the OVC. The winning team has scored 38 or more points in an incredible 26 of the last 27 meetings (Murray State won 13-10 in 2017). Speaking of the OVC, how about Jacksonville State's 52-33 loss to Austin Peay, which actually led 45-7. JaVaughn Craig accounted for five touchdowns and Kordel Jackson had two of the Governors' three interceptions of the Gamecocks' Zerrick Cooper in the first half.

Updated September 29, 2019

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