Week 8 Recap: San Diego, VMI and Murray State Knocked From Unbeaten Ranks

April 3, 2021 by Staff

Austin Peay burst Murray State's bubble with a 34-31 win, courtesy of a 33-yard field goal off the foot of Grant Paulette with just 2 seconds left. The Governors trailed 31-24 after the Racers scored with 12:23 left in the game on an 18-yard run by Damonta Witherspoon. Austin Peay tied the game at the 7:55 mark when Draylen Ellis hooked-up with CJ Evans, Jr on a 10-yard TD pass. Austin Peay improved to 4-5 overall, a record that includes an 0-3 performance in the fall. More importantly, the Governors are now 4-1 in the OVC while the Racers drop to 5-1 in conference play and 5-1 overall.

Austin Peay was actually a 2.5-point home favorite by the oddsmakers, and a whopping 18.49-point by the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com.

Like Murray State, VMI also saw its undefeated season come to an end with a 24-20 home loss to equally surprising ETSU. A late drive by the Keydets was thwarted by a fumble in Buc's territory with 59 seconds left in the game and ETSU ran out the clock. VMI falls to 5-1 in SoCon play and overall. ECU improved to 4-1 overall and in SoCon play. Chattanooga was 3-1 in SoCon play when the school decide to opt out of the remainder of the season after last week's upset loss to Mercer. VMI was only a 1.56-point home favorite, but a 7.23-point computer pick.

Jacksonville State is also 5-1 in the OVC (8-2 overall) after a 44-23 win at Eastern Illinois.

The losses by VMI and Murray State loom large as the Keydets were ranked 8th and the Racers 10th in the initial reveal of the FCS Committee's Top Ten last Thursday night. The announcement is part of the continued team assessments that will culminate with the final bracket, revealed during the selection show on Sunday, April 18, at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPNU.

Upsets didn't stop with those two programs.

San Diego was 3-0 and a 10.5-point home favorite over Davidson (North Carolina), but the Toreros fell to 3-1 with a 31-25 Pioneer Conference loss while the Wildcats improved to 4-0 in league play and 4-1 overall. The computer had San Diego winning, but under the spread at 6.48 points.

At the other end of the spectrum, The Citadel snapped an 11-game losing streak and improved to 1-9 on the 2020-2021 season with a 28-24 upset at Wofford, The Terriers fell to 1-4 after entering the game as a 7.5-point favorite and a 10.47-point computer pick.

Western Illinois picked up its first win of the year, a 27-24 upset of Youngstown State. The Leathernecks snapped an 8-game losing streak and improved to 1-5 while the Penguins slipped to 1-5.

Delaware State halted a 34-game road losing streak that dated back to 2014 with a 37-28 win at Howard. The Hornets are 2-1 for the first time since 2012. The Bison end their season at 0-2, having played only Delaware State twice. The Hornets are essentially playing as an independent since the MEAC canceled opted out of the spring season. Howard and South Carolina State are the only other MEAC teams that schedueld any games at all.

Overall, 12 of this week's 27 games were won by the underdog.

Meanwhile, 3rd-ranked Monmouth of West Long Branch, New Jersey was the highest-ranked team seeing action on Saturday and the Hawks had no trouble dispatching Gardner-Webb with a 48-17 win in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, located about an hour due west of Charlotte. Monmouth was a 13.5-point favorite by the oddsmakers and a 26.04-pooint computer pick. The Hawks improved to 2-0 in the Big South and overall.

4th-ranked Kennesaw State is off to the best start in program history after a 35-0 whipping of visiting Robert Morris. The Owls are now 4-0 overall  and 2-0 in Big South play.

No. 6 Weber State eked-out a 19-16 comeback win at Southern Utah and the Wildcats remained undefeated at 4-0 in Big Sky play and overall. All four Southern Utah losses have come by 3 points or loss, and three in the last minute. This week's game-winning points were actually scored with 10:02 to go in the game. Last week, the Thunderbirds fell 33-32 to Idaho on a 7-yard TD pass with 7 seconds left. Three weeks ago, Idaho State edged Southern Utah, 26-24, on a 30-yard field goal with 5 seconds left. A week prior to that defeat, SUU dropped a 34-33 decision at Northern Arizona by giving up a 2-yard TD pass on the final play of that game. SUU is now 1-4.

Another key Big Sky game saw Eastern Washington travel to UC-Davis and pull of the mild 32-22 upset. The Aggies were 1.5-point favorites and a 1.87-point computer choice. Both teams entered the game at 3-1m overall and in conference play.

Also in the Big Sky, Idaho State held serve over rival Idaho with a 24-22 win in Pocatello. It's the second win for the Bengals in the last three meetings of  a series that has been historically dominated by the Vandals. Idaho still holds a commanding 29-13 series lead.

Nicholls State on Saturday traveled to McNeese State as a 13.5-point favorite, but the Colonels dropped to 4-2 overall, 3-2 in the Southland with a 43-31 loss to the Cowboys. McNeese improved to 3-3 overall, 2-3 in the Southland. The home team in this series has now won the last 6 meetings. Nicholls entered the game at No. 17 in the computer Rankings with its only other loss coming at 9th-ranked Sam Houston State when the Colonels were diced and sliced 71-17 by the Bearkats. The computer had Nicholls winning, but well under the spread with a projected margin of 4.44 points.

Valparaiso improved to 3-1 overall and overall and in Pioneer play with a 10-7 upset of Drake. Valpo was a 13.5-point underdog in the sportsbooks, and only a slightly less 12.94-point computer dog. Valparaiso was 1-11 in 2019 and has had only once winning season since 2004, a 6-5 mark in 2017.

In the SWAC, Southern was a 34-14 winner at Jackson State to give the Jaguars an 8th straight win over the Tigers. Coach Prime (Deion Sanders) saw his team lose a second straight game after beginning the year 3-0. Southern improved to 3-1.

On Thursday night, East Central University of Ada, Oklahoma went to Stephenville, Texas and upset Tarleton State 21-14. The two schools hadn't met since 2009. The Tigers of ECU now lead the all-time series 13-10 after having lost the last three to the Texans. East Central is a D2 school that was 3-9 in 2019.

Tarleton State, a D2 school that is in transition to the FCS, closes its spring season with a 5-3 record. Tarleton had 1 game against a fully eligible FCS school (McNeese State), 2 games versus Dixie State which is also in the midst of moving up to the FCS, 1 versus FBS member New Mexico State, and 4 against D2 programs. The Texans defeated the FBS school, lost to the FCS program, split the pair of games against Dixie State, and went 3-1 against the D2 programs.

East Central has played just one other game this spring, defeating Southern Nazarene of Bethany, Oklahoma.

Tarleton played an 8-game schedule is slightly under 8 weeks.

In another Thursday night game, visiting Sam Houston State was a 24-16 winner against Northwestern State in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Bearkats, who entered the game ranked 9th in the Congrove Computer Rankings and 5th in the Stats Perform FCS Media Poll, led 21-3 after three quarters. The Demons outscored SHSU 13-3 in the 4th quarter but didn't cut the gap to the final margin until there were just  21 seconds left in the game. The Bearkats recovered the onside kick to preserve the 'W" and improved to 4-0 with two games left to play. Northwestern State, ranked 91st out of 94 teams, dropped to 0-5 with 1 game remaining on the schedule.

Sam Houston entered the game as the national leader in scoring offense at 58.7 points per game and was a 24.5-point favorite, according to the oddsmakers. The computer, however, put the projected margin at 9.72 points.

This week's schedule had a lone Friday contest with Northern Iowa vising South Dakota, but that was game was canceled due to Covid issues at USD.

Unlike past weeks, no games are scheduled for Sunday due to the Eastern holiday.

Upset Picks

The computer was 2-1 SU and ATS with its upset picks this week.

Albany by 4.61 over DELAWARE (-13.5) - Canceled
Morehead State by 3.26 over BUTLER (-1.5) - Morehead State won 35-14
FORDHAM by 2.07 over Colgate (-4.5) - Fordham won 40-8
ELON by 3.39 over William & Mary (-7.5) - Canceled
New Hampshire by 6.76 over RHODE ISLAND (-0.5) - Canceled
STETSON by 14.90 over Presbyterian (-2.5) - Presbyterian won 26-3

Last week, the computer was 3-4 straight up and 4-3 against the spread on outright upset plays. The week before that, it was 5-3 straight and 6-2 against the spread for a combined mark of 10-8 SU and 12-6 ATS over the past three weeks.


Albany, Chattanooga and Cal Poly decided this past week to opt-out of the remainder of the season, joining Illinois State in that regard. While Albany Illinois State and Cal Poly were a combined 1-9, Chattanooga was actually in the SoCon hunt with a 3-1 record. Apparently that had no bearing on the decision while mounting injuries were of primary concern.

Teams affected by cancellations and postponements this week included North Dakota State and James Madison, the top two-ranked teams in the country. And NDSU was slated to play No. 8 South Dakota State while JMU was scheduled ti face No. 11 Richmond.

No. 12 Delaware was slated to play Albany.

Meanwhile, the Patriot League reshuffled the schedule and wound up leaving No., 13 Holy Cross idle for the week. And the game between 14th-ranked Prairie View and 15th-ranked Alabama A&M was canceled for ongoing Covid issues at PVAMU.

In all, 14 games were either canceled or postponed.

SEE: Scores and Picks