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Fear The FCS: Four more FBS teams get more than they paid for

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

EWU QB Vernon Adams had plenty of reason to celebrate on Saturday
EWU QB Vernon Adams had plenty of reason to celebrate on Saturday. (USATSI)

When North Dakota State beat Kansas State on Friday night you shouldn't have been all that surprised. North Dakota State has been a team that's made a habit of collecting paychecks from FBS schools and then going out and beating them on the field.

What should surprise you?

How about the fact that the FCS seems to be rising up to overthrow its FBS overlords this college football season. OK, so maybe that's a bit much, but FCS teams have made a hell of a lot of noise on this opening weekend. North Dakota State wasn't even the first David to slay Goliath, as Towson took care of Connecticut on Thursday night. And on Saturday the rock slinging continued when Eastern Washington took down a ranked Oregon State 49-46 in Corvallis.

Which means that Eastern Washington is now the fourth FCS school to knock off a ranked FBS team, joining the likes of Cincinnati (over No. 20 Penn State in 1983), Appalachian State (over No. 5 Michigan in 2007) and James Madison (over No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010).

What made Eastern Washington's win even more remarkable was that the Eagles actually built a 29-17 lead over the Beavers going into halftime. After the half, however, it looked like the college football world was getting itself back in order after the Beavers scored two touchdowns to take a 32-29 lead. It seemed as if, like Icarus, these Eagles had flown too close to the sun, but I guess they don't teach Greek mythology in Cheney, Washington.

Because instead of accepting their fate the Eagles fought back to retake the lead not once, not twice, but thrice. The final touchdown coming on a quarterback draw by Vernon Adams who finished the day with 518 yards of total offense and six total touchdowns.

And just in case Eastern Washington's win wasn't improbable enough, travel 3,200 miles to the southeast down to Tampa, Florida. It was there that the McNeese State Cowboys decided to welcome Willie Taggart to his new job by grabbing Taggart's Bulls by the horns and flinging them all over the field.

The final score was 53-21 McNeese State, but it was never even that close. In actuality McNeese State had a 40-7 lead over South Florida early in the third quarter. The Bulls would add a couple cosmetic touchdowns to make things look slightly better, but sometimes there just isn't enough makeup in the world.

In Ames, Iowa it was Northern Iowa joining North Dakota State as the second Missouri Valley Conference member to knock off a member of the Big 12, beating Iowa State 28-20. The Panthers were led by running back David Johnson's 199 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Head back west to San Diego where Eastern Illinois -- the alma mater of Tony Romo and Sean Payton -- pulled away from San Diego State in the second half, scoring 21 consecutive points to win 40-19. Panthers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 364 yards and three touchdowns to lead the victory.

It's enough to make you think that maybe the Big Ten knew what it was doing when it made the recent decision to stop playing FCS opponents.

FBS opponents are just so much safer.

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