In Week 4 of the 2012 FCS season, plenty of teams, ranked or unranked, faced their toughest tests. While some passed with flying colors, others found
out they are most likely pretenders, not contenders. The stakes got higher as conference play kicked off around the FCS and six teams ranked in the FCS Top 25 improved to 4-0.
Sam Houston State and Northern Iowa find themselves with 1-2, and 1-3 records, respectively. But perhaps the biggest surprise is that each team has yet to record a victory over Division I opponent.
Both teams have seven remaining contests versus FCS foes, and while the NCAA playoff committee doesn't specify that a team must record at least seven Division I wins, usually that is one of the key requirements to earn a spot in postseason play.
Northern Arizona defeated Montana for the first time since 1997, snapping a 14-game losing streak and the program's first win in Missoula since 1986.
The FCS's longest active losing streaks ended this week with Charleston Southern and Nicholls picking up wins, but the victories came in the hands of Division II and NAIA schools, respectively. Currently, Savannah State has the FCS' longest losing streak at 10 games.
Idaho State lost, 73-7, at Nebraska and the Bengals have now dropped 34 straight road games.
Lehigh captured its 13th straight regular-season victory dating back to last season as the Mountain Hawks defeated Liberty, 28-26. They are 4-0 for the first time since 2001.
Likewise, Youngstown State is 4-0 for the first time since 2000.
If we learned anything from Week 4, it's that any win - no matter how pretty, ugly, revealing or satisfying - is another stepping-stone for the road to Frisco, Texas.
Although every game on the schedule is the most important game, in conference play across the FCS, anything can happen. 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 4 of the 2012 FCS season that should not be overlooked:
Northern Arizona snapped a 14-game losing streak versus Montana to defeat the No. 14-ranked Grizzlies, 41-31. The Lumberjacks also spoiled UM's 19-game homecoming win streak which dated back to 1992. Junior running back Zach Bauman rushed for a career-high 253 yards and had three touchdowns.
A total of 24 teams ranked in the FCS Top 25 were in action. Out of those teams, 11 came away with victories versus unranked foes, while No. 10 The Citadel, No. 14 Montana, No. 19 McNeese State, No. 22 Indiana State and No. 23 Maine lost to opponents which were not ranked.
Six teams in the FCS Top 25 have a record of 4-0. They are No. 2 Montana State, No. 4 Youngstown State, No. 5 Old Dominion, No. 12 Delaware, No. 15 Illinois State and No. 16 Lehigh. Alabama A&M, Samford and Tennessee State are 4-0, but have yet to be ranked in the Top 25.
In Old Dominion and New Hampshire's historic statistical contest - in which the Monarchs won, 64-61 - both quarterbacks combined for 78 completions on 117 attempts, 1,066 yards and 10 touchdowns passing. ODU sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for a Division I record 730 yards and added 61 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Last year's national runner-up, Sam Houston State lost in its Southland Conference opener versus Central Arkansas, 24-20. The Bearkats (1-2) have yet to register an FCS win (having only defeated Division II Incarnate Word) and only have seven games remaining versus FCS opponents because its last game of the season is against FBS Texas A&M.
Eastern Illinois wide receiver Erik Lora caught a school and Ohio Valley Conference record 21 passes for a school-record 269 yards with three touchdowns. On top of his standout performance, the junior's biggest play of the night came on a a two-point conversion pass to fellow receiver Von Wise, in overtime as EIU defeated Murray State, 50-49.
Six running backs rushed for over 200 yards in Week 4. They were Northern Arizona's Zach Bauman (253 yards), Fordham's Carlton Koonce (250 yards), South Dakota State's Zach Zenner (237 yards), Eastern Kentucky's Matt Denham (218 yards), Butler's Trae Heeter (204 yards) and New Hampshire's Nico Steriti (201 yards).
Davidson linebacker Patrick Moynahan totaled 22 tackles in a 34-21 loss versus Marist. The senior set a school record, and his 22 tackles were the highest single-game amount in the 2012 season. He also added two tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup.
Murray State place-kicker Jordan Benton was a perfect 5-of-5 on field goal attempts in his team's 50-49 overtime loss against Eastern Illinois. The sophomore made boots of 39, 30, 35, 35 and 21 yards in the loss, and he had 10 kickoffs.
Two teams, Nicholls and Charleston Southern, ended 12- and 15-game losing streaks (the FCS' two longest active losing streaks) in Week 4. Charleston Southern won at Division II Shorter, 23-20, while Nicholls took down NAIA Evangel, 73-14.