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Winners and Losers: Don’t mess with the FCS

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

All hail the FCS.

Six, yes six, FBS schools lost their season opener to an FCS team, including No. 25 Oregon State, which was upset by Eastern Washington. It was the first time a ranked FBS program had lost to an FCS school since 2010.

Blame North Dakota State for empowering its FCS brethren. The Bison knocked off Kansas State in dramatic fashion on Friday and gave hope to the rest of the little guys on Saturday. Then the dominoes started falling. Towson beat Connecticut. South Florida was manhandled by McNeese State. Iowa State fell to Northern Iowa and San Diego State to Eastern Illinois.

It is important to note that Eastern Washington was the 2010 FCS national champion and North Dakota State has won the last two titles. So, it wasn't like these were just run-of-the-mill FCS programs.

Still, those FBS teams have to be concerned about the prospects of their seasons – especially South Florida, San Diego State and UConn – when they are getting owned by teams in the lower division.

That’s the beauty of the first game. Every season starts out with so much promise and all that can be yanked away in a mere 60 minutes of play. And for those FCS teams, they might not have bigger wins all season.

Here are the rest of this week’s winners and losers:

Winners

Vernon Adams, QB, Eastern Washington: In what was the best effort of the night, Adams completed 23 of 30 passes for 411 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 16 times for 107 yards and two scores. He had a hand in all of the touchdowns that helped the Eagles upset No. 25 Oregon State. Can an FCS player win the Heisman?

Christion Jones, WR, KR, PR, Alabama: While the rest of the country was focused on Alabama’s defense, quarterback AJ McCarron and running back T.T. Yeldon, Jones asserted himself as the Crimson Tide’s best offensive weapon. His 72-yard punt return for touchdown, 94-yard kickoff return for touchdown and 38-yard touchdown reception constituted more scoring than Virginia Tech had the entire game and just 10 fewer yards of offense.

Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame: The Notre Dame quarterback couldn't have started his season much better with his 346 yard and three touchdown performance. Yeah, it was Temple and the Notre Dame receivers had plenty of room to maneuver in the secondary, but its a huge confidence boost for the once-maligned quarterback heading into Notre Dame's matchup with Michigan. Rees played pretty well last time the Irish went to The Big House.

Jeff Scott, RB, Ole Miss: With one minute remaining and Ole Miss trailing Vanderbilt 35-32, Scott broke a 75-yard run to give the Rebels a 39-35 win in an epic SEC game. He finished with 12 carries for 138 yards and a score. However, the best part came after the game when Scott excused himself from the media throng to run and find his father, who had made the trip from Florida to see his son play.

Corey Robinson, QB, Troy: Robinson broke the NCAA record for completion percentage (minimum of 30 passes) by hitting 30 of 32 passes (93.8 percent) for 319 yards and touchdown against UAB. The effort broke Steve Sarkisian’s record of 91.2 percent (31-of-34) for BYU against Fresno State in 1995. The Trojans beat the Blazers 34-31 in overtime.

Losers

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt: You were so close to being in the winners column. The Vanderbilt wide receiver carried his team on offense, and none of his 10 catches were bigger than the one he made on 4th and 18 to keep the Commodores' hopes alive in the fourth quarter. But the biggest play wasn't he one he made, it was one he missed. Cody Prewitt's interception to seal the win for Ole Miss went right through Matthews' hands.

Virginia Tech's special teams: What happened to Beamer Ball? In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Virginia Tech's success was enhanced by its special teams prowess. Allowing two return touchdowns, to the same player, no less, is not prowess. Logan Thomas was blindingly ineffective too, going 5-26 for 58 yards and an interception. Keep this up, VT, and you'll be even tougher to watch than last season.

Carl Pelini, FAU: There are a ton of things to keep track of when you're a head football coach. Down and distance is near the top of the list. In the waning seconds of Florida Atlantic's blowout loss to Miami, FAU coach Carl Pelini called for a spike. But it was fourth down. His team spiked it anyway, and gave Miami the ball to run a kneeldown to end the game.

Boise State:For the second consecutive season, the Broncos went on the road to a major conference school and lost. But unlike last season at Michigan State, where the score was 17-13, Boise was throttled 38-6. Before losing to Washington Saturday night, Boise had lost five times since 2008. The margin of victory in those five defeats? 11 points.

While Keith Price and Bishop Sankey carved up the Bronco defense, the passing game couldn’t get anything going. Joe Southwick and Grant Hedrick averaged less per attempt through the air than the team did on the ground. Yeah, it’s the first game, and Boise still is a favorite for the Mountain West. But a BCS bowl is now out of the question.

Clint Chelf, QB, Oklahoma: The Oklahoma State senior had a great bowl game last year for the Cowboys, and entered Saturday's game against Mississippi State as the co-No. 1 QB with JW Walsh. That may not be the case any longer. Chelf was just 3-6 for 11 yards in his two series while Walsh's arm and legs helped propel the Cowboys to a 21-3 win. This entry also includes Chelf's brother Colton, who had some not-so-nice things to say about OSU coach Mike Gundy.

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