(Stats Carry out) – The 12 months 2020 introduced a brand new decade and new desires for a lot of, however most individuals wanted new eyeglasses contemplating how few foresaw what was coming with COVID-19.
In FCS school soccer, the pandemic halted vital momentum constructed in the course of the 2010s – gained from a dynasty program to influential gamers within the NFL to rising curiosity in every single place.
The numbers do not all the time add up in a great way, however we glance again with extra 2020 readability, realizing brighter days are forward.
NDSU completes dominating decade
The 2019 season spilled over to Jan. 11, 2020, and it felt very like the 2010s when top-ranked North Dakota State defeated No. 2 James Madison, 28-20, within the FCS championship recreation (the ABC broadcast drew almost 2.7 million viewers, an FCS playoff document). It was the Bison’s document eighth FCS title (all within the 2010s), and their 16-0 document underneath first-year coach Matt Entz was the very best since Yale had the identical mark in 1894. They went 137-13 (.913), together with 36-2 within the playoffs, over the last decade.
Fall video games few and much between
Most FCS colleges did not compete within the fall because of well being and security considerations over the pandemic. Solely 17 of 127 FCS packages – 13.4 p.c – performed at the very least one recreation, and solely 4 went above 4 video games. There have been 55 video games, together with 34 in opposition to FBS opponents.
First to dive into the deep finish
The seventh annual FCS Kickoff was the primary school soccer recreation of the pandemic, and Austin Peay freshman C.J. Evans scored on a 75-yard landing run on the primary play from scrimmage. However for the second consecutive season, Central Arkansas rallied previous Austin Peay on a Breylin Smith-to-Lujuan Winningham TD move within the fourth quarter, this time with 34 seconds left for a 24-17 win at a socially distanced Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.
FBS transfers galore
Whereas the NCAA switch portal grows by the day, the FCS degree misplaced properly over 100 gamers to FBS packages or supposed strikes, based on Hero Sports activities. Included had been 10 2019 Stats Carry out FCS All-Individuals with remaining eligibility and over one dozen extra gamers who had been focused for the 2020 preseason staff.
4 quarters not sufficient
Within the twenty fifth anniversary season of time beyond regulation in Division I, the one FCS recreation that required additional time was arguably the season’s finest recreation. Stephen F. Austin edged Abilene Christian, 35-32, within the first school soccer recreation at Globe Life Park (the Texas Rangers’ former residence in Arlington) and the one fall matchup between two colleges from the identical FCS convention (Southland). Trae Self’s 16-yard landing move to tight finish Chad Aune capped OT and a wild end wherein 30 factors had been scored over the ultimate 2 minutes, 23 seconds of the fourth quarter and the one additional interval. Self set profession highs for complete offensive yards (374) and complete TDs (4).
FCS draft picks plummet to document low
The lack of many school professional days after colleges shut down in March led to most FCS gamers on the surface wanting in to the 2020 NFL Draft. There have been solely six choices, lower than half the earlier low and down from as many as 30 (1996 and ’97) for the reason that draft switched to seven rounds in 1994.
Zappe-ing the competitors
Houston Baptist senior Bailey Zappe put up dizzying passing numbers in his squad’s 4 video games, together with three in opposition to FBS opponents. His school-record 567 yards in a 35-33 loss at Texas Tech (the Huskies had been 41-point underdogs) had been probably the most ever by an FCS quarterback in opposition to an FBS faculty (additionally tying for the 18th-most in an FCS recreation). Total, Zappe (pronounced ZAP-ee) accomplished 141-of-215 passes (65.6 p.c) for 1,833 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception and have become the primary FCS quarterback to have 4 straight 400-yard video games since Idaho State’s Justin Arias in 2014.
Jacksonville State’s 19-10 win at FIU was its first over an FBS opponent since 2013 and ended the FCS’ 67-game, 13-month shedding streak in opposition to the higher tier of Division I. The Gamecocks did not simply have their first 100-yard rusher in 17 video games, they’d two with Josh Samuel (168 yards, landing) and Uriah West (116). Freshman Alen Karajic kicked 4 discipline objectives and the guests from the Ohio Valley Convention possessed the ball for a whopping 42:16.
Bison’s document run
North Dakota State was one in all 4 colleges to play just one recreation this fall, nevertheless it drew a nationwide highlight with quarterback Trey Lance, who in 2019 turned the primary participant to brush Stats Carry out FCS Walter Payton (offensive) and Jerry Rice (freshman) awards in the identical season, auditioning for NFL scouts. The three-time reigning nationwide champion Bison trailed within the fourth quarter for the primary time in 28 video games, however rallied to beat Central Arkansas, 37-25, and lengthen their FCS-record successful streak to 38.
Quick and candy are overrated
Some groups go years with out having a 99-yard scoring drive. Central Arkansas had one in every of its season-ending wins over Missouri Western and Jap Kentucky. In truth, the Bears had 5 TD drives of at the very least 85 yards and a 96-yard kickoff return for one more rating within the two video games.
Prime Time hiring
A mixed 49 FCS colleges had head teaching modifications after the 2017 and ’18 seasons, however there was a lot much less motion this 12 months. Solely seven colleges launched new coaches, and the primary 5 resulted off 2019 season-ending modifications. One hiring was as huge as they arrive within the FCS: Jackson State touchdown Professional Soccer and Faculty Corridor of Famer Deion Sanders. Curiosity was so excessive, the SWAC faculty stated its athletic web site acquired 5 million pageviews in the course of the first two days of the Coach Prime period and estimated it acquired what equates to $19 million in marking and promotional worth within the first month. The Tigers head towards the spring season seeeking their first successful document since 2013.