If you have any doubt that some of the best teams in the FCS can knock off FBS foes, take a look at what happened when Western Illinois took on Coastal Carolina this past week. The Leathernecks put up over 500 yards of offense and forced four turnovers in a 52-10 rout of the Chanticleers. This victory showed how there is little difference between the 10 or 15 best teams in the FCS and some of the Group of Five teams in the FBS.
Biggest Win of Week 4 – Elon 36, Richmond 33
What has gotten into the Phoenix? Elon was supposed to be at the bottom of the Colonial once again this season, but it now has two big wins in back-to-back weeks. The Phoenix held on to beat Charleston Southern in Week 3, but this one was a stunning victory. Elon was a massive underdog to Richmond, but the Phoenix leaned on Malcolm Summers to set the tone in the running game, and he carried them to victory. He toted the rock 40 times for 294 yards.
For Richmond, the growing pains continue under first-year head coach Russ Huesman. The Spiders turned the ball over four times and couldn’t get anything going on the ground. That meant Kyle Lauletta had to throw the ball often to keep the Spiders in the game, and he nearly brought them to victory by throwing for 497 yards.
Biggest Upset of Week 4 – Montana State 49, North Dakota 21
Montana State wasn’t given much of a chance to beat a North Dakota team that was in desperate need of a win. The Fighting Hawks were rocked last week by South Dakota and fell to No. 19 in the polls afterward. This week, North Dakota doesn’t have to worry about being ranked.
Once again, North Dakota’s run defense was gashed in a theme that is becoming all too common. The Bobcats were able to run for 341 yards and four scores against the Fighting Hawks, who failed to get going on offense themselves. It’s not a good start for the team that went undefeated in Big Sky play last year.
Closest Call of Week 4 – Eastern Washington 48, Montana 41
Montana looked set to pull off the upset I had been calling for all week in the first half of this one. The Grizzlies jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead on the Eagles, and Eastern Washington’s offense looked completely out of sorts. That’s when Gage Gubrud took over. He threw for a school-record 549 yards against the Grizzlies, most of them coming in the second half, and led the Eagles to 42 second-half points in the victory. The win keeps Eastern Washington in the Top 25 and in contention for a bye in the postseason, while it leaves Bob Stitt still looking for a program-turning win at Montana.
Biggest Blowout of Week 4 – Sam Houston State 66, Nicholls State 17
This one was never close. The Bearkats were up 59-3 at the end of the third quarter, and the Colonels’ two fourth-quarter touchdowns only made the score look a little better. Jeremiah Briscoe had a big game against this defense, but it was truly a team effort as the running game had a huge impact, too. In all, SHSU totaled over 600 yards of offense. The story was this defense, though. Nicholls State had very little success through the air, and Sam Houston State had its most complete defensive performance yet.
Biggest Disappointment of Week 4 – Patriot League contenders
This was supposed to be the year that the Patriot League sent two teams to the playoffs. Both Lehigh and Fordham entered the season ranked in the Top 25, and their high-powered offenses were supposed to lead them to a lot of big wins. Of course, now it’s harder to find two more disappointing teams than those two. Neither team can play a lick of defense, which has led to each side getting mollywhopped. Both Fordham and Lehigh are allowing at least 49 points per game, and that puts them in the bottom five of the country in scoring defense. The Rams and the Mountain Hawks have just one combined win between them this season.