TOG Game of the Night: Upper Iowa has struggled mightily in the years since moving up to D-II. Last night, they had a shot at unranked but always lurking Bemidji State, and the game came right down to the wire. Things looked perfectly normal, albeit with Bemidji struggling to score, through three quarters; the Beavers led 19-7, and seemed in control. Then the Peacocks erupted, with two Cole Jaeschke touchdown passes sandwiching a 35-yard Steven Sandoval field goal. The last of those three scores came with 2:28 to play and gave Upper Iowa a four-point lead, and the upset watch was on.
It was not to be, however. Bemidji stormed down the field, and Lance Rongstad dropped a 5-yard TD pass to Brett Kondziolka. Matters weren’t settled, though, as the PAT failed, leaving Bemidji up 25-23 with 40 seconds left on the clock. Upper Iowa managed to get in position for a game-winning 46-yard field goal try, but a bobbled snap led to a desperate heave into the arms of Bemidji’s Dylan Valentine, and boom, game over. The question now is whether this close call will give the Peacocks the confidence to put together a reasonably decent season, which they’ve desperately needed for some time.
So Close, Yet So… Ugly: We were this close to the third FCS-over-FBS upset of the weekend. Florida Atlantic was very bad in Howard Schnellenberger’s final sally last year, and I don’t think they’re any better now under Carl Pelini. The evidence: a miserable 7-3 win — at home, no less — over Wagner, a mediocre FCS program. Wagner took a 3-0 lead in the second quarter and held it until early in the fourth when FAU finally got on the board with a 39-yard pass from Graham Wilbert to Byron Hankerson. And that only happened because after thirty whole minutes as a head coach, Pelini already made a change at quarterback.
Blowout of the Night: The D-II Northeast-10 Conference got their league action started with a visit to Bentley by the always dubious Pace Setters. It ended with the night’s most comprehensive victory, as the Falcons spread the wealth around their entire offense on the way to a 42-0 rout.
American Football in Ireland, Part the First: Right around the time I publish this, Notre Dame will be taking on Navy over in Dublin, but that will be the second college football game on the Emerald Isle this weekend. The first one? It was a blast… for John Carroll, anyway. After spotting Saint Norbert an early field goal Blue Streaks QB Mark Myers got to work, and 457 yards and five TD passes later John Carroll had wrapped up a 40-3 win over the Green Knights.
The Warhawk Death Machine Marches On: For twenty minutes, the Bears of Washington University-Saint Louis stymied the Wisconsin-Whitewater offense, and although the upset alert wasn’t blaring since Whitewater was leading 3-0, it was still enough to attract attention. Except for one small problem: for the entire first half, Washington themselves failed to pick up a first down, and in fact ended the half with exactly zero yards of offense. By that time, Whitewater had managed to piece together a 17-0 lead. Thirty clock minutes later, it was 34-0. Washington ended with four first downs and 55 yards of offense. It’s Whitewater’s 46th straight win, and they’ve got the NCAA record for consecutive wins in their sights.
Wholly Unfamiliar Territory: Last year, the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference went 2-17 in the first two weeks of the regular season, and both of those wins came courtesy of New York Maritime. Two days into the 2012 campaign, they have already matched that win total, and Maritime’s not even playing this week. Becker scored a 13-3 win over Fitchburg State and Mount Ida squeaked past Mass-Dartmouth 24-21. Only Anna Maria’s 56-10 drubbing at the hands of Worcester State went to the conference’s detriment last night. Things are looking up for a league which saw an 8-2 Maritime squad — one of whose losses was to a D-II team — miss the playoffs last year largely because their compatriots were so awful.
Top 25 scores from last night: Only three games in the lower divisions featured ranked teams last night.
FCS: at #20 Stephen F. Austin 49, Southwest Oklahoma State [D-II] 14
D-II: #25 Bloomsburg 44, at Stonehill 28
D-III: #1 Wisconsin-Whitewater 34, at Washington (MO) 0