It was two years ago, the last time North Dakota State and Jacksonville State were in the same discussion.
Both teams were pushing NCAA powerhouse softball teams around en route to the super regionals. Both teams failed to make the Women's College World Series, but the two schools certainly made it known the little gals were there to win, not just show up.
Saturday, the two schools were at it again.
Proving they were in it to win it, not just grab a check and go to the house, both teams upset schools in major Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, JSU downed Ole Miss and NDSU took out Kansas.
For Jacksonville State, the 49-48 win was elaborate. A 21-point deficit, overtime drama and two head coaches who treat each other like family.
North Dakota State hung on for a 6-3 win while Kansas couldn't put any type of offense together against the Bison defense.
The excitement around Jacksonville State football has been there the entire off-season. The Gamecocks built an elaborate press box and expanded the stadium to nearly 24,000 seats and are renaming the field Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.
Most fans, however, thought the Sept. 11 home opener would be the most exciting game of the season.
Obviously, those fans had quickly forgotten the Gamecocks were better than Florida State for 59 minutes and 25 seconds last season.
Those fans did not know Marques Ivory and Coty Blanchard would fill the shoes of famed quarterback Ryan Perrilloux perfectly.
Heck, most fans probably did not know Blanchard, who was Alabama's 2009 Mr. Football, declined a pro baseball contract to continue his dream of two-sport fame at JSU.
Blanchard may not have won fame on the baseball diamond yet, but the true freshman has been a household name for nearly a week now thanks to his 4th-and-15 heroics in Oxford.
The Gamecocks’ online ticket store crashed over the weekend, forcing the ticket office to open Monday. Reports say the school sold 1,500 tickets on Monday alone.
North Dakota State didn’t really win the game in as exciting fashion, but the Bison certainly used a stingy defense and good-enough offense to pull out a huge win for the team less than a decade removed from Division II.
Spoiling Turner Gill’s big-time college football debut were the Bison, a Missouri Valley Conference team who went 3-8 last season.
Both teams went into the game as lowly opponents for the major football programs, both coming off two great seasons.
But if one thing is for certain, it is FCS teams go into these type of games with nothing to lose, and that showed in the second half of both games—especially the Jacksonville State win.
I wonder, though, has the Ole Miss check cleared the bank yet? Maybe they can put a stop payment on it and save their money since they could not save face.
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