The first Saturday of the college football season was a big day for the little guys.
Three Football Championship Subdivision programs knocked off Power Five teams. Richmond trounced Virginia 37-20, Northern Iowa beat Iowa State 25-20 and Eastern Washington defeated Washington State 45-42.
“This was a huge win,” said Richmond coach Danny Rocco, a former Virginia assistant. “We throw these words around like FBS and BCS. There is a huge difference. When you are playing a BCS or Power Five programs, that’s a whole new ballgame. To step up and play like that and get a result like this speaks an awful lot about our program, staff, and student-athletes.”
A total of four FCS teams beat FBS programs this week. Albany defeated Mid-American Conference program Buffalo 22-16 on Friday.
The results shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise.
Richmond, which reached the FCS semifinals last season, is 4-5 against Atlantic Coast Conference teams since 2006 with wins against Duke in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
Northern Iowa now is 3-3 against Iowa State since 2007. The Panthers previously beat Iowa State 24-13 in 2007 and 28-20 in 2013.
Eastern Washington beat a 25th-ranked Oregon State team in 2013. This marked the second straight year in which Washington State opened by losing to an FCS team, as the Cougars fell 24-17 to Portland State last year.
Richmond had an easy time Saturday, as Kyle Lauletta threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to spoil Bronco Mendenhall’s debut as Virginia’s coach.
In the Northern Iowa game, J’Veyon Browning had a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers ahead for good with 2:49 left. Aaron Bailey threw for 135 yards and ran for 114 yards.
Eastern Washington’s Gage Gubrud threw for 474 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 77 yards and a score against Washington State. Cooper Kupp caught 12 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
These three schools didn’t have the only noteworthy performances by FCS teams.
South Dakota State played No. 13 TCU tough all night and trailed 45-41 early in the fourth quarter before the Horned Frogs pulled away for a 59-41 victory.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org