Takeaways from FCS Week 3

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - Where's the beef? Well, at South Dakota State with the Beef Bowl, of course.

Where's the defense - that's the better question. Arkansas-Pine Bluff didn't have it for the Beef Bowl, where SDSU rolled to a 90-6 victory.

Incredibly, the Jackrabbits' point total wasn't even the highest of the FCS week.

FCS teams scored 70 or more points six times last season. This season, it's occurred eight times (four in FCS-vs.-FCS) already.

Here are takeaways from Week 3 of the FCS season:

- As fun as the FCS games were this past week, the devastation of Hurricane Florence puts everything into perspective. Games can wait; human life can't. As the hurricane moved toward the Carolinas, it forced changes with 15 FCS games, including three cancellations. Some of the other games may not be rescheduled as well.

- Just as FBS teams holds a distinct advantage against FCS teams when they square off, FCS results against sub-Division I teams are one-sided. FCS teams have won only six of their first 89 matchups with the FBS this season, but they've combined for a 42-1 record against those below the FCS, mostly from Divisions II and III and the NAIA. The most visible game occurred Thursday night when Davidson raced past Division III Guilford 91-61, setting NCAA records for total yards (964) and rushing yards (685) in a game.

- McNeese's DWA (Defense With Attitude) still has bad intentions, as evidenced by handling of Nicholls 20-10 in the STATS FCS Game of the Week. Defense is a commodity in the Southland Conference and the No. 16 Cowboys have it plus a burning anger over being left out of the FCS playoffs last season. The defense is so different with head coach Lance Guidry calling the alignments (they're 12-2 since he reclaimed that role).

- McNeese's DWA (Defense With Attitude) is back to bad intentions, as evidenced by its handling of Nicholls 20-10 in the STATS FCS Game of the Week (linebacker B.J. Blunt had three sacks and a fumble recovery). Defense is a commodity in the Southland Conference and the No. 16 Cowboys have it plus a burning anger over being left out of the FCS playoffs last season. The defense is so different with head coach Lance Guidry calling the alignments (they're 12-2 since he reclaimed that role).

- Winning really is easy as - well, make that, for - 1, 2, 3. The top three teams in the STATS FCS Top 25 weren't exactly in jeopardy of being upset this week: No. 1 North Dakota State beat transitioning member North Alabama 38-7, No. 2 James Madison pounded Robert Morris (2-9 last season) 73-7 and No. 3 South Dakota State hammered Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-9 last season) 90-6.

- San Diego's first three results are just like last season: beat Western New Mexico at home, lose at UC Davis and cross the country to fall to an Ivy League team - Princeton last year and Harvard this season. The problem is, the Toreros don't appear as strong as a year ago, when they followed the 1-2 start with nine straight wins, including in the first round of the FCS playoffs for the second straight year. They returned only 10 starters after losing plenty of star power and 2017 Pioneer Football League offensive player of the year Anthony Lawrence already has thrown one more interception (four) than last season.

- The signature wins have been few and far between for Mercer since it joined the Southern Conference in 2014, but it nailed one with a 30-24 upset at No. 9 Samford, the conference's preseason favorite. Coach Bobby Lamb's big move of the season is he didn't just hand the quarterback job back to Kaelan Riley, the 2017 SoCon freshman of the year. Redshirt freshman Robert Riddle, who rotated with Riley for two games, went the whole way against Samford and accounted for three touchdowns.

- Ivy League teams are always the final college football teams to begin their season, but they started fast once again with a 5-3 record. While defending Ivy champ Yale fell in overtime to Holy Cross, Harvard beat defending Pioneer Football League champ San Diego 36-14 and Columbia posted a 41-24 road win over defending Northeast Conference champ Central Connecticut State.

- The FCS needs more inter-conference highlights like the Big Sky-MVFC Challenge Series, won by the Missouri Valley for the second consecutive season. The Ivy and Patriot leagues face off with the most matchups (10) and should probably come up with a challenge-type name. CAA Football and the Southern Conference should get into the act and forge a series as well.

- An incredible 12 teams in the STATS FCS Top 25 lost on Saturday (seven against FCS opponents and five against the FCS). The week's notable upsets: North Dakota 24, No. 5 Sam Houston State 23; Mercer 30, No. 9 Samford 24; Towson 45, No. 9 Villanova 35; Missouri State 40, No. 20 Northern Arizona 8; Southeast Missouri 47, Southern Illinois 44; Jackson State 18, Florida A&M 16; and Holy Cross 31, Yale 28 (OT).

Updated September 16, 2018

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