East Carolina, Duke, Virginia, and West Virginia: FCS Meat

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIISeptember 8, 2009

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 29:  The mascot of the Duke Blue Devils throws his pitchfork into the endzone during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There. That headline should draw some comments.

But, it was true last weekend. Using Phil Steele's 2009 preseason top 40 FCS rankings:

No. 1 Appalachian State scared the beegeebees out of East Carolina in Greenville.

No. 5 Richmond beat hapless Duke in Durham.

No. 12 William and Mary upset Virginia in Charlottesville.

And top 40 unranked (!) Liberty (?) gave West Virginia fits in the friendly confines of Morgantown.

All-American quarterback Armanti Edwards' lawnmower-damaged foot kept him on the sidelines as the FCS Mountaineers rallied from an early 24-0 deficit only to lose a 29-24 heart-breaker to the Pirates. 

Third-team Appalachian State signal-caller Travaris Cadet took over and breathed life into App State's anemic offense, bringing his team back big, albeit too little too late.

Richmond took command as Duke suffered an acute case of arachnophobia in their 24-16 loss. The Spiders gained a lot and lost only a bit in the punting game, then played ball control to take the lead for good. 

Interestingly, FCS 2008 champion Richmond was in some circles the underdog to the Coach K-less Blue Devils in Saturday's game, although half of the wagering population knew what was up. 

Virginia had to be the most embarrassed of the four as The College of William and Mary let the Cavaliers in the game early, then completely shut down the host's newly-minted spread offense. 

W & M forced seven—that's right, seven—turnovers to reign victorious in the Battle of Schools Named For Women.  The score, 26-14, did not reflect how much the Tribe dominated late in the game.

Some local West Virginia writers tried to put a homer spin on the school's 33-20 defeat of Liberty, but many FBS Mountaineer fans didn't buy it. 

WVU, getting enough preseason votes to rest among the top 35 in both major polls, struggled up front and allowed too many passing yards to get a comfortable win over the rebuilding Flames.


FBS schools schedule FCS schools early in the season to test their base game plans and allow second and third-teamers to garner some playing time.  Recently, the FBS school has been filling the stadium for that seventh game without sacrificing dignity.

FCS teams get FBS universities on their slates to pull in the significant, guaranteed payday.  There is also what one could call the "David and Goliath Effect," meaning if things fall just right, the FCS school just may take home a "W" along with the check.

Go back to David's slingshot and think again about that dignity thing.

With regard to the first-teamers, FCS can often line up with FBS toe-to-toe. Late bloomers, highly recruited players who don't want to stand in line at Ohio State, and those overlooked are increasingly filling the starting rosters in the FCS. 

So, if a good (read: not Liberty) FCS team gets in the game early at the FBS stadium and stays there while remaining healthy and not fatigued, who knows what can happen. 

Just ask Michigan, Duke, and Virginia.

FCS makes September fun. Take in a game in your area and support these giant killers.

Next up: On September 19, Elon from Burlington, North Carolina, travels an interstate hour west to invade Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.