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FCS takes down the FBS!

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Illinois State football running onto the field
Credit: Homecoming at Illinois State via Flickr

Upsets happen every single year; it's one of the best parts about college football. We see big ones each and every season, including last year where we had Tulane beat USC, Georgia Southern Beat Nebraska, and Appalachian State beat the Texas A&M Aggies.

In 2022, we saw eight games that the FCS were successful in taking down the FBS, including, on September 17th, 2022, Southern Illinois beat Northwestern 31-24.

Eight wins may seem like a lot, but these wins are far from rare. These smaller schools live for the opportunity to go win on a big stage, so they throw everything but the kitchen sink at the opponents.

In 2021, the FCS had the best season by far as they won twelve games against FBS teams, four of which came from the Power 5 conferences, including Arizona, Florida State, Vanderbilt, and nationally-ranked Washington.

I have three games for this upcoming 2023 season where the FCS can once again conquer the superior FBS.

Idaho (FCS) at Nevada (FBS)

Week two of the season we have the Idaho Vandals traveling to Mackay stadium to not only play, but to upset the Nevada Wolfpack.

In 2022, Nevada was one of the worst teams in the nation as they finished with a pitiful 2-10 record which included a loss to an FCS powerhouse, Incarnate Word Cardinals 55-41. Unfortunately for Nevada, they have a very difficult schedule which will hurt any hopes of having massive improvement this season.

This season Nevada kicks off the year by going to the number sixth-ranked USC Trojans and 2022 Heisman-winning quarterback, Caleb Williams. This means the Wolfpack will be beaten and battered going into their week two matchup against the Vandals.

In 2022, Idaho went 7-5 while on their way to a playoff spot. They lost 45-42 in the first round to Southeastern Louisiana [SELU] but stayed very competitive throughout the season. Out of the five losses the Vandals stayed within one score, including games against Sacramento State (31-28 Loss), Washington State (24-17 Loss), and SELU in the playoffs.

Key players to watch in this game will be:

Idaho quarterback Gevani McCoy

2022 was McCoy's first full season starting for the Vandals, but he played like a veteran of the game. as a redshirt freshman he threw for 2,735 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions (four being in crucial situations against Washington State and SELU).

Idaho wide receiver Hayden Hatten

In 2022, Hatten was the go-to receiver for the young Gevani McCoy. This connection started off slowly but gained momentum throughout the season. He eventually finished the season as the number one pass catcher by reeling in 1,209 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Idaho wide receiver Jermaine Jackson

Last season Jackson was the number two wide-out behind Hatten, but both still found a ton of completions and a ton of yards. Jackson pulled in just under 1,000 yards and five touchdowns.

Southern Illinois (FCS) at Northern Illinois (FBS)

This will be a big season for Southern Illinois. Yes, they lost in horrible fashion in week one 29-64 to the dominant Incarnate Word but, they went on to beat Northwestern only two weeks later.

Last season Southern Illinois had a 5-6 record; however, they had multiple games that could have easily gone their way. Out of six losses, the only time they were defeated by a margin greater than seven was week one, against UIW. To go further in detail, they had four losses within one field goal.

Now yes, a loss is a loss regardless of the point differential. But, when you see a team that went down to the wire in multiple games with a weaker team than they have now, who's to say they can't turn those losses into wins?

Last season, NIU went 3-9, while finishing the season on an ugly downhill spiral after losing by 32 points to Akron.

Key players to watch in this game will be:

Southern Illinois qb Nic Baker

Nic Baker is a 6-year senior who has been starting ever since 2021. He has a ton to be excited about with his accuracy and his touchdown/interception ratio has been climbing since his first starting season. In 2021, Nic was 63.1 percent on passing along with having a 27:11 (touchdown: interception) ratio. This season he also let a 99-yard touchdown pass fly.

In 2022, his completion percentage managed to jump all the way to 69 percent while his touchdowns and interceptions sank to 20:7. Fortunately, this came from the running game switching over to play a major part of the team.

Southern Illinois Wr D'Ante' Cox

Cox is a senior that really had his first complete season last year and became the go-to receiver for Nic Baker. Last year, he hauled in 696 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, while averaging 15.1 yards per completion. If you need a big play through the air, D'Ante Cox is the man to look for.

Southern Illinois rb Ro Elliot

Last season Ro Elliot took carries behind the starter, Javon Williams Jr. but, regardless of having 30 fewer carries Ro still outrushed Javon by 61 yards. As the secondary back, Ro Elliot rushed for 476 yards and three touchdowns. You can expect the rushing numbers to go sky-high with Ro taking over the primary spot.

Florida A&M (FCS) at South Florida (FBS)

Last season Florida A&M finished second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference [SWAC] behind only Jackson State. JSU was a phenomenal team, and being coached by Prime-Time Deion Sanders definitely helped their case. In 2022 the FAMU Rattlers went 7-1 in conference with the only in-conference loss coming from... you guessed it, Jackson State. This was an ugly 59-3 loss in Miami Gardens which made it all worse. However, one game does not make a season.

After starting the season 0-2 the Rattlers put their heads down and got straight to business as they won out for the remainder of the season going 9-0. Throughout this reign of terror, they had quality wins over Alabama State and Southern.

On the other hand, South Florida had a very depressing 2022 season. They went 1-11 with the only win coming against the Howard Bison. A loss is never pretty but, the Bulls did manage to keep it close against a really bad Florida Gators and a top 25 ranked at the time Cincinnati Bearcats.

Unfortunately for Bulls fans, this turmoil didn't stop with simply losing games. On November 6th, 2022, USF Head Coach Jeff Scott was fired. With the uncertainty of who would be coaching in 2023, the USF Bulls lost a ton of on-field production. This includes both star wideouts Xavier Weaver and Jimmie Horn Jr. to Colorado, running back Brian Battie to Auburn, and Jackson Long to Georgia Tech on offense alone.

USF did make a home-run hire by making Alex Golesh the new head coach but, with this being his first college head coaching job there will be mistakes made early, this includes an early week two loss to the Rattlers.

Key players to watch for include:

FAMU qb Jeremy Moussa

Jeremy Moussa is a transfer from Vanderbilt, and before that, he was with Hawaii. He never found his footing in the FBS but now that he is at FAMU he is taking the opportunity to really shine.

Last season, Moussa threw for 2,730 yards, with 21 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. On the downside, he managed to complete under 60 percent of his passes, which is less than desirable, to say the least. This season, he will be expected to take that next step and really shine as a leader for this program.

FAMU wr JAH'Marae Sheread

Sheread was the second-leading receiver last season but will be the primary target this season with the departure of Xavier Weaver to the NFL.

In 2022, Sheread hauled in 585 receiving yards and three touchdowns but, with him being the primary target this season he could really be playing a lot like Smith did last season. With doubling the targets, he could easily be a 1,000-yard receiver this season.



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