The FBS gets all the glory each weekend during the college football season, but let’s not forget about those on the FCS level.
By now, football fans are well aware of the talent that has recently come out of the FCS – Carson Wentz (Philadelphia), Tarik Cohen (Chicago) and Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams). There are plenty more top-notch players currently shining in the subdivision.
So, let’s take a break from the FBS, and shift our attention to look at what’s going on in the FCS.
Still the king
It’s no surprise that North Dakota State remains at the top of the FCS mountain. Winners in six of the last seven FCS title games, the Bison have won 12 in a row dating to a loss at South Dakota State on Nov. 4 of last year.
NDSU received all 160 first-place votes in this week’s STATS FCS Poll and have already cleared hurdles from SDSU and Northern Iowa. This weekend, the 6-0 Bison face another difficult task against fellow Missouri Valley Football Conference member Illinois State (5-1) in a matchup of top 10 teams.
Senior quarterback Easton Stick leads NDSU with 10 touchdown passes to just one interception. He’s also rushed for seven scores.
Names to remember
It’s never too early to start thinking about the 2019 NFL Draft, especially for the folks at NFLDraftScout.com. Several FCS players are included in its pre-draft rankings, with a host saddled in the top 20 at their respective positions.
Current FCS prospects with a serious chance to hear their names called at next year’s draft include receivers Keelan Doss of UC Davis and Northern Arizona’s Emmanuel Butler. Defensively, cornerback Jordan Brown of San Dakota State and safety Chris Johnson out of North Alabama both continue to be considered legitimate NFL talents.
In 2018, 19 players from the FCS were selected in the draft, led by South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard in the second round by Indianapolis with the 36th overall pick.
Staten Island-based Wagner might be sitting at 2-5 on the season, but it’s not because of running back Ryan Fulse.
The senior leads the FCS in rushing with 1,028 yards – the only player to top the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Fulse already has games of 271 yards, 194 and 181 under his belt this season.
Meanwhile, Chandler Burks, quarterback of 6-1 Kennesaw State, has rushed for an FCS-high 17 touchdowns. The Owls nearly pulled off an upset at nearby Georgia State to open season, losing 24-20.
FCS teams beating FBS schools really is not that unusual.
North Dakota State went into Iowa and beat the Hawkeyes in 2016 and last season Howard won at UNLV.
This season, Illinois State won 35-19 at Colorado State, Nicholls triumphed in overtime at Kansas and UC Davis visited San Jose State and came away with a 44-38 victory. Maine bounced Western Kentucky 31-28, and North Carolina A&T also got by East Carolina 28-23.
Remembering an FCS legend
Bob Spoo, the man who coached Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo in college, died earlier this week at age 80. Spoo recorded a school-record 144 victories in 24 official seasons coaching at Eastern Illinois.
Spoo, who began his career coaching quarterbacks at Wisconsin and Purdue, guided the Panthers to nine playoff appearances. That included a three-year playoff run from 2000-’02 with Romo as his quarterback. Garoppolo, meanwhile, played in Spoo’s final two seasons at EIU in 2010 and ’11.
Spoo’s coaching tree includes Dino Babers, currently the head coach at Syracuse.