The 2013 football season was one of the best for chaos in college football. No one was safe, and there are many games from the Group—I mean, non-BCS conferences—worth looking back. This is the Forgotten 5 2013 Rewind.
The last two installments featured geographic-specific upsets, but they were all games that happened in Week 1 alone. So are these. The FCS cleaned house in that last weekend of August.
These games are significant in each of their own ways. Whether it’s because the team exploded late to achieve a historic win or the team played a solid game in the face of the opponent’s meltdown, the FCS laid the smack down in Week 1.
- Towson tops UConn, 33-18
In the previous installments of this series each winning team featured a player who went on to some level of success, whether it was Jimmy Garoppolo, the best backup QB in 2016, or Vernon Adams, the current backup for Johnny Football.
This game featured Terrance West, former Ravens running back and the current FCS record holder for most rushing yards and touchdowns in a year—records broken in 2013. Against the Huskies, West ran for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns, nearly doubling the other team’s production.
It’s safe to award him the MVP, especially since his last score came with 15 seconds left in the game—the definition of “nail in the coffin.” He’s also the most successful Tiger at the next level.
That being said I think there’s a bit of credit due to a smaller figure in the game. Sterlin Phifer was a senior who transferred from Boston College, and he accounted for just as many touchdowns as West.
Phifer caught a 23-yard pass in the first quarter to score for the first time in his career, and ten minutes of game time later he ran one in from the 5-yard line.
Granted, 62 all-purpose yards isn’t mind-boggling, but in this game anyone who put up 14 points made the difference. UConn itself only got into the end zone twice, and both can be credited to wideout Skakim Phillips.
So, West certainly earned his due for his performance the entire year, but Phifer proved that team players deserve some love too.
- Samford silences Georgia State, 31-21
Samford had never beaten an FBS team since the program was restarted in 1984. A private college outside Birmingham, the team is best known as the only place both Bobby and Terry Bowden have coached. Alternatively, Georgia State was a brand-new team, only existing since 2010—a matchup made in Forgotten 5 heaven.
The first half looked good for the Panthers, even after Fabian Truss took the opening kickoff back for the Bulldogs. A pair of passing touchdowns gave GSU the lead going into the third quarter. For the first ten minutes of the second half, the two teams traded punts back and forth.
Then, at his own 12-yard line, Panthers quarterback Ronnie Bell threw an interception. Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt took the ball 33 yards the other way, tying the game. At the start of the fourth the score was 14-14.
It was all downhill from there. Samford scored its first offensive touchdown—Truss ran in a one-yard score—to take the lead a minute into the last period. A punt and a 31-yard pass later, and the Bulldog lead grew.
The Bulldogs added a field goal and GSU added a touchdown, but time ran out on the Panthers. The FCS added to its body count, and it was only Week 1.
- McNeese State manhandles South Florida, 53-21
Jean-Luc Picard once said that committing no mistakes and still losing is just a part of life. I’m not sure if he was ever asked what happens when you commit too many.
Statistically, these teams were comparable, but the details explain the ridiculous final score. With a lot of little mistakes, it’s easy to see how one team can fall apart. That’s exactly how McNeese won.
It started in the first when USF, up 7-0, botched the snap for a punt. The punter made the right call, but it cost the Bulls two points and possession. Then, a fumble turned into a Cowboys touchdown, giving them the lead.
A terrible kick return—after a McNeese field goal—gave the Cowboys great field position on the eventual punt, which led to a touchdown. Finally, cornerback Guy Morgan took an interception to the house. The score at halftime was 33-7.
The second half was kinder to the Bulls, but they were still outscored 20-14. Near the end of the game, a pair of turnover on downs sandwiched another McNeese field goal. The mistakes ruined Willie Taggart’s hometown debut—only an hour away, it counts.
Like I said, the details reveal how badly they broke down. USF threw one more interception, but both led to points. McNeese went 1-for-1 on fourth down while USF went 2-for-5. USF went 3-for-13 on third downs, and they didn’t return a punt once.
I wonder what Patrick Stewart would have to say about that.
Up next in the Forgotten 5 2013 Rewind: South Alabama Shenanigans.