Greatest FCS Upsets Over FBS Schools
By Jim Johnson
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These are a few of the greatest FCS over FBS upsets in recent memory that involve teams from the Southeast.
There are some big games this weekend throughout the Southeast, but this weekend is also chock full of presumed blowouts. As a sort of calm before the Rivalry Week storm, many teams elected to schedule FCS opponents as a warm up to all the week 14 action. Usually it’s a mutually beneficial system. The Major programs coast to blowout victories and get a chance to rest its starters, while their smaller counterparts get to take home a nice fat check for their time. Sometimes, however, the little schools don’t just take the beating like they’re supposed to. Sometimes the FCS schools have to remind the big programs that the games are still settled on the gridiron. These are a few of the greatest FCS over FBS upsets in recent memory that involve teams from the Southeast:
Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20 – This time last year, a struggling Florida Gator team was stumbling through a mediocre season dreaming of greener pastures filled with Tim Tebow clones. The Gators had finally reached what appeared to be a small haven from the harsh SEC schedule and a tune-up game for hated rival and eventual national champion Florida State. Georgia Southern, a team amidst a transition to the FBS, was travelling to the Swamp, looking to collect a check to help out with their shiny new stadium. Or so the Gators thought. The Eagles had more than money on their mind, however, they wanted a victory. Without completing a single pass, Georgia Southern piled up 429 yards of offense compared to Florida’s 279 yards. The Eagles averaged 7.9 yards per rush on their 54 attempts and absolutely imposed their will on the home team. Jerick McKinnon ran the ball for a 14 yard touchdown with just under three minutes left to give GSU a six point lead. A couple of missed extra points had left Florida with an opportunity to take the lead back with one score, but it didn’t matter. Georgia Southern and its triple option, the great equalizer, had proven that it could compete in the highest level of college football.
James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16 – It was 2010 and the Virginia Tech Hokies were ranked thirteenth in the nation. It had been three years since a ranked Division I team had lost to a team from a lower division. James Madison was down 16-7 early in the second half, far from a comfortable lead, but it seemed as if the Hokies might start to pull away. The Dukes had given them a good run for the first two quarters, but it was time for the big boys to put them away. Then all of a sudden the tables turned. James Madison’s quarterback Drew Dudzik started to improve his decision making and once their spread option attack got going, there was no stopping it. The Dukes were aided Virginia Tech’s apparent inability to get more than a field goal in the red zone. Six red zone trips over the course of the game resulted in only one touchdown for the Hokies. Early in the third quarter, Dudzik led the Dukes on a 14 play, 66 yard touchdown drive, capped off by a seven yard score by Dudzik himself to make it 16-14. Three plays later Virginia Tech signal caller Tyrod Taylor tossed his first interception of the game. Following the pick, Dudzik led another 66 yard drive, this time in eight plays, to take the lead for the final time and to clinch the biggest upset in three years.
Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 – In 2007, the Michigan Wolverines were the 5th ranked team in the country, according to the preseason polls. This was the first time in the history of the program that the Wolverines scheduled a Division II opponent. Appalachian State, formerly of the SoCon (has since moved to the FBS’ Sun Belt conference), was the supposed cupcake of their choosing. None of the major sports news outlets gave the Mountaineers much of a chance, despite their number one ranking in Division II. Fast Forward to the game, as the final seconds of the third quarter tick off the clock, Appalachian State leads the Mighty Wolverines 31-26. With only four and half minutes to play, Michigan running back Mike Hart ripped off a 54 yard touchdown run to put Michigan ahead by one. Without any timeouts, App State drove 69 yards down the field to set up a 26 yard field goal for Julian Rauch, which sailed through the uprights for a two point lead. It didn’t look like it was going to be enough though, after a 46 yard completion from Chad Henne to Mario Manningham gave Michigan a chance at a last second, 36 yard field goal for the win. Mountaineer Safety and defensive leader Corey Lynch wasn’t giving up though, as the senior ripped through the blockers and blocked the would-be game winning field goal to seal the deal for his team and send shockwaves throughout the college football community.