Photo courtesy of Youngstown State Athletics
By Tim McDonnell, FCS Assistant
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) - A total of 82 games were played during the first week of the 2012 FCS season, and the grueling journey to Frisco, Texas - site of the national championship game - began with a bang.
In Week 1, the FCS nation saw plenty of promise, heartbreak and opportunity. Defending national champion North Dakota State picked up right where it left off with a convincing 52-0 victory over Robert Morris, allowing only 88 yards.
A handful of teams from every conference, except the Ivy League, realized just how good, or bad, the new season would turn out. Likewise, many schools took on the daunting task of trying to defeat an FBS foe. And while the vast majority failed, four teams came away with memorable victories versus FBS programs which essentially paid them to lose.
The excitement of FCS football is back, and for all the promise in its teams, some things can never be ignored.
Whether it be scores, statistics or standout performances, the numbers never lie.
Here are some important figures from Week 1 of the 2012 FCS season that should not be overlooked:
Four teams were shut out versus FBS opponents by a combined 227-0. They were Northern Colorado, Elon, Savannah State and Lamar.
Old Dominion, which is in its last season on the FCS level before transitioning to the FBS, trailed Duquesne 20-10 at halftime. The Monarchs then went on to outscore the Dukes 47-3 in the second half, winning, 57-23.
Only three of The Sports Network's Top 25 teams were idle this weekend. Out of the remaining 22 teams, 15 came away with victories. The seven remaining squads all lost to FBS opponents: No. 6 Appalachian State, No. 7 Towson, No. 9 Northern Iowa, No. 18 Eastern Kentucky, No. 22 Jacksonville State, No. 23 Indiana State and No. 24 Central Arkansas.
In Thursday night's 49-28 victory over Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois tallied 522 yards, 433 through the air. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossed five of the team's seven passing touchdowns.
In Wofford's 34-7 win at Gardner-Webb, fullback Eric Breitenstein rushed for a national weekend-best 219 yards as well as two touchdowns. The FCS' active career leader in rushing and rushing touchdowns now has 644 carries for 3,914 yards and 48 touchdowns.
All nine teams in the Northeast Conference opened the season this week. However, last year's co-champion and playoff representative Albany was the only school to come away with a victory, beating Colgate, 40-23. In a tough weekend of opponents, Monmouth, St. Francis (Pa.), Duquesne, Central Connecticut State and Robert Morris played on the road versus FCS Top 25- ranked opponents, and Wagner played FBS Florida Atlantic.
Former FCS football member Massachusetts totaled 59 yards, 56 passing and three rushing in its FBS debut. The Minutemen only had three first downs in a 37-0 loss against Connecticut.
In its season-opening loss to Kent State, Towson turned the ball over six times, including four fumbles. Last year, the Tigers only lost seven fumbles all season.
Three teams managed to rush for over 400 yards in Week 1. They were Georgia Southern, The Citadel and Wofford, all from the Southern Conference. The Eagles, Bulldogs and Terriers accounted for 16 touchdowns on the ground and were also the FCS' top-three rushing teams in 2011.
Four teams defeated FBS opponents - McNeese State, Eastern Washington, Youngstown State and UT Martin. McNeese State and Eastern Washington defeated Middle Tennessee State and Idaho, respectively, on Thursday, while Youngstown State and UT Martin defeated Pittsburgh and Memphis, respectively, on Saturday.