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10 takeaways from FCS Week 1

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - If Princeton had beaten Rutgers in the first game 150 years ago, then FCS fans surely would be counting it as a win over an FBS program.

The victories are always exhilarating, but they're hard to come by.

Week 1 of the 2019 season proved that. FCS teams were a combined 1-39 with only Central Arkansas (against Western Kentucky) emerging victorious Thursday night. However, 11 of the losses were by eight points or less, so there were a number of of close calls.

Here are 10 takeaways from Week 1:

- The FCS casualties against the FBS included No. 2 James Madison (West Virginia), No. 3 South Dakota State (Minnesota), No. 4 Eastern Washington (Washington), No. 5 UC Davis (Cal) and No. 8 Weber State (San Diego State), so perhaps the Top 10 shouldn't change too much in Monday's rankings. Those top teams still appear stronger than most winning teams below them, so dropping them much may not be wise in the long run.

- Coaches making their debut went 9-14 with the following winners: Mark Hudspeth (Austin Peay), Ryan McCarthy (Central Connecticut State), Rusty Wright (Chattanooga), Nick Charlton (Maine), Sterlin Gilbert (McNeese), Chris Ball (Northern Arizona), Matt Entz (North Dakota State), Troy Taylor (Sacramento State) and Mike London (William & Mary). Also, the four who went straight from being FCS head coaches to guiding FBS programs went 2-2 with Kansas State's Chris Klieman (from North Dakota State) and Charlotte's Will Healy (Austin Peay) beating FCS opponents and East Carolina's Mike Houston (James Madison) and Akron's Tom Arth (Chattanooga) falling within the FBS.

- Butler didn't do it, it was North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. Granted, he wasn't matched against James Madison, South Dakota State or another FCS power, but the redshirt freshman was scintillating in his first career start when the top-ranked Bison rolled to a 57-10 victory and tied for the fifth-longest winning streak in FCS history (22 games). Lance accounted for 301 yards of total offense and six touchdowns, flashing a rocket arm and game-breaking speed. An upcoming gauntlet of North Dakota, Delaware, UC Davis, Illinois State and Northern Iowa will be more telling, though.

- As you should know already, don't be overly alarmed about Missouri Valley Football Conference teams being a combined 2-8. Nationally ranked South Dakota State, Indiana State and Northern Iowa led Big 12 opponents in the fourth quarter or beyond. UNI's 29-26, three-overtime loss at Iowa State was particularly mesmerizing. Perhaps Panthers coach Mark Farley, who sought his 150th career win, should have gone for two points and the win when his team pulled with 23-22 in the second OT. All in all, a great performance.

- Montana was impressive in its 31-17 win at South Dakota in the STATS FCS Game of the Week. The 25th-ranked Griz scored on five straight possessions over the second and third quarters behind senior quarterback Dalton Sneed, who built on last year's strong finish with a career-high 430 passing yards and three scores. The Big Sky squad - determined to rebound after missing the playoffs in three straight seasons - was 10 of 16 on third downs. Sneed works with a lethal unit of wide receivers in Samuel Akem, Samori Toure and Jerry Louie-McGee.

- The game with the most offense was Tennessee Tech's 59-58, double-overtime win over Samford (0-2), which also fell in Week Zero. Tech, only 1-10 in coach Dewayne Alexander's first season a year ago, overcame a 38-15 deficit in the final minute of the third quarter. In the second OT, Andrew Goldschmidt scored from 14 yards out to pull the Ohio Valley Conference squad within 58-57 before it went for a game-winning two-point conversion, which came on quarterback Bailey Fisher's pass to David Gist. Fisher had 415 passing yards and five total touchdowns and accounted for three two-point conversions. The game featured 1,233 offensive yards and no turnovers.

- Getting it all started with a conference game can double the fun, and two teams jumped to the top of their respective standings with road wins. In the Southern Conference, Mercer handled Western Carolina 49-27 as Robert Riddle threw touchdowns to four different receivers. In the SWAC, Prairie View A&M raced past Texas Southern 44-23 as running back Dawonya Tucker rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

- In the only Week 1 matchup between two nationally ranked FCS teams, No. 20 North Carolina A&T edged No. 21 Elon, 24-21, on Noel Ruiz's 52-yard, game-ending field goal. He had missed two earlier attempts in the fourth quarter. The two-time defending MEAC and Celebration Bowl champion was stout against the rush and quarterback Kylil Carter displayed his past seasoning behind former starter Lamar Raynard. The loss was particularly harmful for Elon, which is coming off two straight playoff seasons, but has a brutally tough schedule and is playing only 11 games in a season that allows 12 games.

- N.C. A&T shared the spotlight in the MEAC with South Carolina State, which upset No. 9 Wofford 28-13. Quarterback Tyrece Nick both threw and ran for scores and the defense intercepted four passes (something rarely seen from Wofford's offense, which runs the triple option). Coupled with No. 6 Jacksonville State's 35-14 loss to Southeastern Louisiana Thursday, two Top 10 teams fell to FCS squads.

- Uh oh. Colgate was the only Patriot League team to finish with a winning record in each of the past two seasons. This season, Colgate already is 0-2 - losing to Villanova and Air Force - and the seven league members are a combined 0-8.

Updated September 1, 2019

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