Just how does North Dakota State do it anyway?
Some FBS schools wish they knew because then they could stop losing to the FCS team.
Amazingly, NDSU has a 5-3 record versus FBS teams since 2006. Saturday's 37-24 Bison stomp across Minnesota was their second in three meetings against the Gophers. They also have defeated Ball State, Central Michigan and Kansas.
Saturday was a banner day all around for FCS teams against FBS competition as the number of wins this season doubled from three to six. Sam Houston State also beat New Mexico, 48-45, in overtime as Tim Flanders rushed for a career-high 194 yards and five touchdowns, and Southern Utah drilled UNLV and former Montana coach Bobby Hauck, 41-16 (with three pick-sixes in Las Vegas).
A year ago, there was seven such upsets. The list included North Dakota State's 6-3 win at Kansas.
Coach Craig Bohl has done a great job developing his teams, but he also has picked FBS opponents that have been ripe for the picking. And, clearly, his players go into the games with a chip on their shoulders, having been overlooked from FBS programs like Minnesota.
"If we played well, we'd win," Bohl said after the victory. "It wasn't going to be a deal where Minnesota was going to need to fumble the football and do a lot of miscues. If we played well, we were going to win."
In beating Minnesota yet again, the eighth-ranked Bison didn't play Whack-a- Mole, it was Whack-a-Gopher. They scored four touchdowns in the second quarter, capped by sophomore cornerback Marcus Williams' first of two interception returns for touchdowns to provide a 28-14 halftime lead.
Senior D.J. McNorton rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown, and redshirt sophomore quarterback Brock Jensen was an efficient 16 of 21 for 197 yards. Colton Heagle also had an interception and seven tackles.
Earlier this season, the FCS teams upsetting FBS opponents were Sacramento State against Oregon State, Richmond against Duke and Indiana State against Western Kentucky.
NO. 1 INDEED
The nation's top-ranked team rushed for 634 yards on 68 carries (9.3 yards per carry) in its 52-20 win over Western Carolina on Saturday. It represented the third-best rushing performance in school history.
Robert Brown was one yard short of giving GSU (3-0, 2-0 Southern Conference) four 100-yard rushers. Ezayi Youyoute led the way with 119 yards, J.J. Wilcox had 115 yards and Jerick McKinnon tallied 114 yards.
"There are a couple of things happening," head coach Jeff Monken said. "One, I think we have some young guys that have developed and are capable of playing. And, two, when their defense is out there, they get tired and worn down. They're obviously trying to keep their best players out there to keep us from scoring. Sometimes a fresh guy getting in there makes a huge difference and they're even able to be more effective than our guys who have played before."
MONMOUTH HAWKS FLYING HIGH
As Lehigh coach Andy Coen prepared his team for its season opener against Monmouth, he predicted the Hawks could be a dangerous because he thought they were often one or two plays away from winning some of the games they lost during an 3-8 campaign last year.
Coen apparently was on to something. Lehigh beat Monmouth, but the Hawks have come back with two impressive road wins against 2009 FCS champion Villanova, 20-9, on Sept. 17 and Northeast Conference preseason favorite Central Connecticut State, 24-12, on Saturday. The Hawks' second win snapped CCSU's 15-game home winning streak and helped solidify a wide-open NEC race, which Bryant leads with two straight conference wins.
"I think it was a great win for us," Monmouth coach Kevin Callahan said after quarterback Kyle Frazier threw and rushed for touchdowns, and his defense forced three turnovers. "It certainly was a first step for us, getting our initial win in NEC play. This conference always comes down to the wire because there is so much parity."
500 AND COUNTING
Northwestern State opened Southland Conference play with a 34-0 shutout of Nicholls which was the 500th win in program history. The Demons are 500-418-22 all-time.
Quarterback Brad Henderson threw three touchdowns in the first quarter.
"We played a great schedule that prepared us for conference play, no doubt," said coach Bradley Dale Peveto, whose 2-2 team has lost to LSU and SMU. "Our strength of schedule showed up today."
With four Top 25 match-ups and some FBS-FCS games, nine ranked teams lost on Saturday.
Within the Top 10, No. 5 Richmond fell short of No. 11 New Hampshire, 45-43; No. 6 William & Mary lost to No. 12 James Madison, 20-14, as the Tribe's offense continued to stumble; and No. 10 Montana couldn't stop Sacramento State, 42-28.
Sac State, the early season darling with the win at Oregon State before it suffered two straight losses to fall out of the Top 25, posted its first win over the Grizzlies in 17 all-time meetings.
Quarterback Jeff Fleming passed for two touchdowns and threw for two more to outplay Montana counterpart Jordan Johnson.
NO JOKE, HOKE IS FOR REAL
Weber State had to replace a 3 1/2-year starter and three-time Walter Payton Award (sponsored by Fathead.com) nominee in quarterback Cameron Higgins.
Junior Mike Hoke has made it look too easy for the Wildcats, who have followed up two losses to FBS teams with two Big Sky wins to take the early conference lead.
Hoke is hard-nosed and makes great decisions. He has passed for 11 touchdowns without an interception. In fact, since his freshman year, he has thrown 160 straight passes without an interception.
NO JOKE, TRIBE COULD MISS PLAYOFFS
After its 20-14 loss to James Madison, William & Mary (2-2) needs to win six of its final seven games to get to seven against Division I competition - usually the minimum required by the NCAA playoff selection committee. One of the Tribe's wins is against Division II New Haven.
Included in the remaining schedule are road games against Villanova, Delaware, Rhode Island and Richmond - no easy task.
Against James Madison, coach Jimmye Laycock started Michael Graham at quarterback over Michael Paulus. The Tribe offense has scored six touchdowns in four games.
AROUND THE NATION
Furman quarterback Chris Forcier set six school and Southern Conference records by passing for seven touchdowns and rushing for one in a 62-21 victory over Presbyterian on Saturday. By completing his first nine attempts, he established a Furman consecutive completions record (20) spanning the first three games of the season ... Austin Peay stopped a 10-game losing streak by beating Eastern Kentucky, 23-17, in the Ohio Valley Conference. Devin Stark caught three touchdowns from Jake Ryan ... Youngstown State owned a 15-minute, 10-second edge in time of possession over Indiana State, running 92 plays to 47 and gaining 30 first downs to 14, but lost to the Sycamores, 37-35, in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The difference was running back Shakir Bell's quick strikes for ISU. He rushed for a school-record 256 yards and four touchdowns, including three of at least 50 yards. ISU linebacker Aaron Archie also impressed with 18 tackles and two sacks ... Jacksonville is moving on from two season-opening losses. On Saturday, the Dolphins (2-2) racked up a school-record 713 yards to beat Campbell, 57-21, in their Pioneer Football League opener. Quarterback Josh McGregor threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns and Keith Dawson rushed for 144 and two touchdowns on only 11 carries ... In Stony Brook's 37-20 win over Lafayette, Wesley Skiffington became the school's all-time leading scorer among kickers with 164 points and fellow junior Dan Mulrooney had eight tackles, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and an interception ... From the "ouch department": Tennessee State surrendered 595 rushing yards and 792 total yards in a 63-24 loss at Air Force ... One of the more impressive wins of Week 4 came on Thursday as UT Martin contained Murray State's high-scoring offense in a 48-26 OVC win over the 24th-ranked Racers. It was the Skyhawks who raced to a 28-0 first-quarter lead. Overall, Tevi Barksdale rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Jason McNair went for 104 yards and three touchdowns ... You had to go back to Halloween 1998 for Georgetown to score more than the 52 points it pinned on Marist. Senior quarterback Scott Darby threw for four touchdowns and rushed for one as Georgetown (3-1) posted a 52-28 win ... Yale quarterback Patrick Witt is off to a sizzling start in two games, completing 47-of-64 attempts (73.4 percent) for 526 yards and five touchdowns with one interception ... Lavante Page rushed for five touchdowns as Florida A&M avoided an upset against Southern University, winning 38-33 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta ... CBS Sports Network will air a one-hour documentary on Wednesday, (7 p.m. ET) about the 1968 Grambling-Morgan State game in which historically black college football programs played against each other for the first time in New York. The game was played on Sept. 28, 1968, when more than 60,000 fans filled Yankee Stadium.
A LOOK AHEAD
We move into October next Saturday, but the FCS first has another important match-up on Thursday when defending defending SWAC champion Texas Southern visits Jackson State.
On Saturday, the biggest game within the Top 25 will be a match-up of last year's Southern Conference co-champions, Appalachian State at Wofford. In addition, OVC favorite Jacksonville State visits Murray State and Richmond goes to James Madison in an important CAA Football game.
Other conference action includes: Big Sky - Weber State at Eastern Washington, Sacramento State at Montana State and Portland State at Idaho State; CAA - William & Mary at Villanova, Massachusetts at Old Dominion and Delaware at Maine; Great West Football Conference - North Dakota at Southern Utah; Ivy League - Penn at Dartmouth; MEAC - South Carolina State at Norfolk State; Missouri Valley Football Conference - Southern Illinois at Western Illinois; Northeast Conference - Robert Morris at Monmouth and Bryant at Duquesne; Ohio Valley Conference - Tennessee Tech at UT Martin; Patriot League - Georgetown at Bucknell (that's right, two 3-1 teams); Pioneer Football League - Butler at Dayton; Southern Conference - top-ranked Georgia Southern at Elon; Southland Conference - Stephen F. Austin at Central Arkansas and McNeese State at Northwestern State; and SWAC - Alcorn State at Alabama State and Grambling State vs. Prairie View A&M at the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park in Dallas.
In intriguing non-conference action, Holy Cross visits New Hampshire, Yale goes to Lehigh and cross-state rivals Rhode Island and Brown meet for the Governor's Cup under the lights in Providence.
The only FCS-FBS match-ups are Towson at Maryland and Bethune-Cookman at Miami (Fla.).