(Stats Perform) – The bad and the ugly were expected for the FCS teams that were heavy underdogs against an all-FBS schedule on Saturday, but the good shined through as well.
As expected, the FCS teams were 0-6, but Campbell and Houston Baptist had near-misses, snake-bitten by late two-point conversion attempts. They all hope there will be an even bigger payoff this season beyond their game guarantee.
“We’re fighters,” Campbell quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams said after a 27-26 loss. “We don’t want to go out and say, ‘Ah man, we were so close.’ We wanted to win the game.”
The good, the bad, the ugly for the FCS:
West Virginia (1-0) 56, Eastern Kentucky (0-2) 10
The good: Having lost 59-0 at Marshall last Saturday, Eastern Kentucky scored for the first time when quarterback Parker McKinney threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keyion Dixon in the second quarter. Two plays earlier, McKinney had a 23-yard completion to freshman Jake Sloan.
The bad: The Colonels’ pass defense was a strength last season, but their first two opponents have passed for eight touchdowns without an interception and posted a gaudy 306.7 passer rating.
The ugly: The score was 42-7 and not in doubt by halftime, meaning the Colonels allowed 101 points plus 1,025 offensive yards in the first six quarters of coach Walt Wells’ first season.
Georgia Southern (1-0) 27, Campbell (0-1) 26
The good: Campbell sophomore quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams showed why he was the Big South preseason offensive player of the year, collecting 310 yards of total offense with three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). He threw incomplete on a potential 2-point conversion with 15 seconds left when the Camels went for their first-ever FBS win.
The bad: Nursing a 20-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Camels surrendered the ball on a mishandled punt snap deep in their territory, and Georgia Southern needed only two plays and nine yards to knot the score.
The ugly: Georgia Southern, which won six FCS national titles before moving up to the FBS, had 33 players, including eight starters, inactive due to positive coronavirus tests, injuries, team suspension and coach’s discretion.
Pittsburgh (1-0) 55, Austin Peay (0-2) 0
The good: The Governors’ three leading tacklers were defensive backs, All-American nickel back Kordell Jackson (six) and safeties Terrell Vassel (six) and Johnathon Edwards (five).
The bad: The Governors offense went three-and-out seven times and turned the ball over three other times in 14 possessions.
The ugly: With Pitt ahead 42-0 at halftime, both teams agreed to shorten the third and fourth quarters to 10 minutes each.
South Florida (1-0) 27, The Citadel (0-1) 6
The good: The Citadel linebacker Willie Eubanks III, the Southern Conference’s 2019 defensive player of the year, had an active start to the new season with 12 solo tackles, one sack and three tackles for loss.
The bad: It’s never good when The Citadel and its triple option offense don’t win the rushing battle, but USF held a 302-200 advantage and averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
The ugly: The Citadel’s usually reliable Matt Campbell had what figures to be one of the worst punts of the college football season. Working from his team’s end zone midway through the second quarter, he muffed a snap, and though he avoided a sack just as he picked up the ball, he rugby punted a blooper that USF’s Omarion Dollison caught in the end zone for a touchdown.
Oklahoma (1-0) 48, Missouri State (0-1) 0
The good: Missouri State inside linebacker Tylar Wiltz stepped up in coach Bobby Petrino’s first game, collecting a game- and career-high 12 tackles, including eight solos and two for loss.
The bad: The Bears had the wrong opponent to try to improve one of last year’s worst offenses in the FCS. They managed 54 net rushing yards and 135 overall yards, finishing 0-for-11 on third down.
The ugly: The Bears were shredded by the Oklahoma quarterbacks, led by freshman sensation Spencer Rattler, who combined to complete 30 of 36 attempts for 484 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Bears signal-caller Jaden Johnson was knocked from the game in the fourth quarter with an upper body/head injury.
Texas Tech (1-0) 35, Houston Baptist (0-2) 33
The good: HBU hung around as a 41-point underdog, trailing 35-27 with the ball in the closing minutes. Senior quarterback Bailey Zappe was 30 of 67 for 567 yards and four touchdowns, often connecting with the Sterns brothers – Jerreth (12 receptions, 130 yards, one TD) and Josh (5-209-2).
The bad: After pulling within 35-33 with 3:23 to play, the Huskies came up empty when Zappe overthrew Ben Ratzlaff on a two-point attempt.
The ugly: This was HBU’s first-ever game against a Power-5 Conference opponent. Ugly? No, it was a thing of beauty for the Huskies.