Saturday was a wild and whacky day in the FCS but there was nothing more stunning that what went down in Fargo. The visiting Coyotes of South Dakota did what so many in the past have been unable to do and actually walked out of the Fargodome with a win in hand.
The 24-19 shocker came thanks to a heroic effort from a South Dakota that, frankly, no one gave a shot to heading in. Quarterback Aidan Bouman outdueled Cam Miller while playing mistake-free while Carter Bell’ big receiving day helped polish off the upset. The defense locked it down in what was a total team effort from the Coyotes. It was undoubtedly the upset of the year so far in the FCS.
This result tells us many things not only about the two squads involved but about things nationally as well. USD is clearly worthy of being ranked, especially now at 3-1. NDSU still may have some issues that aren’t worked out yet, despite what was previously thought. And things are going to be really interesting at the top of the pile come playoff time.
Both #1 South Dakota State and #3 Montana State handled their business with relative ease but with the Bison faltering, what will that mean for the upper crust of the subdivision next week, next month and when winter rolls around?
The updated rankings will be released on Monday and one would have to imagine that North Dakota State slips behind Montana State and possibly Idaho as well. The currently #4-ranked Vandals beat Eastern Washington to improve to 4-1. Montana State, likewise, is 4-1.
The Bison, of course, were not the only top team to lose this weekend. Both William & Mary along with Holy Cross (#5 and #6 respectively) slipped up and fell to unranked opponents also.
The playoff implications of this slide for NDSU shape up to be meaningful, pending how the rest of the year plays out. Before the Bison likely held a slight edge over the Bobcats and the Vandals when it came to seed consideration. Now that nod would almost have to go to MSU if it came to a head-to-head decision for a higher seed and, more importantly, homefield advantage. If NDSU has to travel for the rare road postseason game, you can point to this loss as a major reason why.
The ‘Yotes should also find themselves in the Top 25 come Monday after such a momentous victory and now they’re a leg up in the Missouri Valley race at 1-0 in conference play. NDSU is playing catchup and with a game against South Dakota State one the schedule, the bid for a league title may already be slipping away.
This, obviously, is all speculation at this juncture of the season and there’s still lots of ball that needs to be played between now and Selection Sunday. South Dakota, though, just threw a wrench into things and, at least right now, gave teams like Idaho and Montana State a gift.