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Week 1 FCS over FBS Upsets

Which FBS teams paid their FCS opponents in a loss?

NCAA Football: Liberty at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

James Madison over East Carolina

Okay, so this one wasn’t an upset according to the betting line. James Madison easily took care of business against East Carolina in a 34-14 victory. The Pirates were unable to stop the Dukes running game as James Madison ran for 424 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

The Dukes were just as impressive on defense. They forced four turnovers and held the Pirates to 2.3 yards per carry. James Madison will be a humongous favorite going into next week’s game against East Tennessee State.

Tennessee State over Georgia State

This one wasn’t too big of a surprise either. The Tigers were only 15-point underdogs against the Panthers and have a roster filled with FBS transfers. Treon Harris still had issues with accuracy, but was phenomenal as a runner, carrying the ball for 91 yards on 11 carries.

Tennessee State’s defense was rock solid, holding Georgia State to just 275 total yards of offense. The Tigers will get to play a bad Jackson State team next week and should cruise to a victory.

Liberty over Baylor

Now we’re getting into the land of the crazy. Liberty was a 33.5-point underdog to Baylor and no one expected the Flames to be competitive. However, quarterback Stephen Calvert had other ideas.

Calvert threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns in the biggest win in school history for Liberty. It was an auspicious start to the Matt Rhule era in Baylor as his defense was unable to stop the Flames’ passing attack. There were 1,117 yards of offense in this game.

Howard over UNLV

This is already being called the greatest upset ever. Howard is a bad FCS team that went 2-9 in 2016 and was hammered by an awful Rutgers team last year. The Bison were a 45-point underdog in this one and got paid $600,000 to travel cross-country for this bodybag game.

The oddsmakers shouldn’t have underestimated any team with a Newton at quarterback though. Caylin Newton doesn’t have the size of his more famous brother Cam, but he has a lot of his athleticism. Newton ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns and was competent throwing the ball in his first game at the collegiate level.

For UNLV, it’s a sign that the Tony Sanchez era might come to an abrupt end. He has failed to transfer the success that made him a great high school coach to the college game and while he can recruit, his track record as a coach isn’t great.

Near Misses

  • Youngstown State nearly notched another win over an FBS team. The Penguins have 20 wins over FBS programs over the last four decades and came back from 21 down to force overtime after holding the Pitt Panthers scoreless in the second half.
  • Rhode Island and Central Michigan needed three overtimes to decide a winner, in an ugly game marred by turnovers. The Chippewas turned it over four times, but got a 30-27 win thanks to Rams quarterback Tyler Harris throwing six interceptions.
  • Holy Cross was up 20-7 at half against UConn, but faltered down the stretch in a 27-20 loss. Crusaders quarterback Peter Pujals was a star, throwing for 358 yards as the Holy Cross ground game was largely ineffective.
  • Portland State hung tough with an FBS opponent for a second straight week as they nearly defeated Oregon State. Jalani Eason is making rapid improvement as a true freshman quarterback and is a name to keep in mind in the future. He had two passing and two rushing touchdowns in a three-point loss to Oregon State, but also turned the ball over three times.
  • Stony Brook was tied with South Florida at 17 in the fourth quarter, but the defense finally relented after a phenomenal performance over the first three quarters in a two-touchdown loss.
  • Southeastern Louisiana would have knocked off Louisiana-Lafayette if not for special teams errors. The Lions ran for 343 yards against the Ragin’ Cajuns, but allowed two kickoff return touchdowns that were backbreakers in the 51-48 loss.