The longest football season in the history of the world began and ended at the FCS level, from Central Arkansas’ 24-17 win over Austin Peay on Aug. 29 to Sam Houston’s thrilling 23-21 victory over South Dakota State in Sunday’s national title game. With a majority of the FCS action taking place in an unprecedented spring campaign, let’s commemorate this odd spring by looking back at the best games, most fun players and some final takeaways.
Note: The next two sections are specifically focused on spring action. Apologies to players such as Houston Baptist’s Bailey Zappe and games such as HBU-Texas Tech, which would have made these lists if the fall schedule had been included.
The 20 best games of spring
20. Delaware 27, Villanova 20 (April 17). Delaware won this intense playoff elimination game by surging ahead by 14 and holding on for dear life. Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith, meanwhile, managed this outright absurdity in a losing effort:
— CAA Football (@CAAFootball) April 17, 2021
19. Sam Houston 24, North Dakota State 20 (May 2). SHSU’s road to the title was lined with fourth-quarter thrillers, one of which came against the storied Bison. NDSU scored on a blocked punt for a safety and on kick and punt returns to lead 20-17 deep into the fourth quarter. But Bearkats quarterback Eric Schmid and title game hero Ife Adeyi connected on a 47-yard bomb to set up the go-ahead points, and a red zone stop sealed the deal.
18. McNeese State 40, Tarleton State 37 (Feb. 13). The first game of the spring, and the first game of Tarleton State’s FCS existence, went to double overtime. McNeese scored twice in the final three minutes of regulation and clinched the win on a 19-yard Cody Orgeron run.