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Numbers Never Lie: Identity, adversity separates top from bottom

2:00 PM, Oct 7, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The old cliche saying "It's better to lose early rather than late" has always been related to football at the FBS level.

In FCS football, losses, no matter how early or late, usually result in two ways. First as a learning tool to re-evaluate a team's strategy. Second, it can lead to a dangerous path of destruction.

At the unofficial halfway point of the 2012 FCS season, one of the most important aspects of a team is learning how to respond to adversity.

Take, for instance, the No. 19-ranked Citadel Bulldogs, who have quickly dropped three straight games after an impressive 3-0 start. Coach Kevin Higgins' squad looked to be the early season dark horse with wins over Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. However, opponents have suddenly put together a blueprint for the triple option attack. After a disappointing 38-7 loss versus Samford, The Citadel is in serious trouble.

Other teams like Youngstown State and Illinois State both found the loss column after being routed by conference foes. Most importantly, the losses don't necessarily mean they are out of the postseason picture in any way. Instead, it's a chance to regroup and improve upon its weaknesses.

Perhaps Delaware is realizing the downside of scheduling cup-cake opponents early on in the season. The Blue Hens have looked dumbfounded in the last two weeks, losing versus New Hampshire and home versus Maine. After a 4-0 start and Top 10 ranking, UD's ground attack has looked average at best and the team's bye week couldn't have come at a better time.

Most likely, this week's Top 25 rankings will be shaken up with a handful of highly rated schools either looking great, or even more vulnerable than most thought in losses or close wins.

Albany (5-1), Stony Brook (5-1), Tennessee State (6-0), Samford (5-1), Cal Poly (5-0) and even Alabama A&M (6-0) - yes, a team from the SWAC - are making strong cases for more Top 25 votes.

Other schools accustomed to the limelight better be prepared to bring their best game each week. Especially when you consider the number of quality conference foes which will face off in the near future.

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 6 of the 2012 FCS season that should not be overlooked:

Two Missouri Valley Conference teams, Youngstown State and Illinois State lost for the first time in 2012 in Week 6. Collectively, they were outscored 65-7, outgained 546 to 393 in total yards and committed a combined seven turnovers in the defeats. Illinois State was 0-for-12 on third down conversions, while Youngstown State was 3-of-12.

Seven teams ranked in the FCS Top 25 remain unbeaten through the first six weeks of the season. They are North Dakota State (5-0), Montana State (6-0), Old Dominion (5-0), Wofford (5-0), Lehigh (6-0), Cal Poly (5-0) and Harvard (4-0). Tennessee State (6-0) and Alabama A&M (6-0) from the Ohio Valley and SWAC, respectively, are the only remaining undefeated teams which have not been ranked in the FCS Top 25 yet.

Michael Cole of Maine and Jordan Piper of Nicholls State set new single-game defensive highs in Week 6. Cole totaled five solo sacks in his team's 26-3 win at Delaware. He finished with nine total tackles and one forced fumble, while the Black Bears defense came away with nine total sacks in the game. Piper had a career-high and national single-game high of 23 total tackles in a 34-14 loss at Central Arkansas. He also forced one fumble.

Three wide receivers totaled over 200 yards receiving in Week 6. They were Elon's Aaron Mellete (13 receptions, 237 yards, three touchdowns), Eastern Illinois' Erik Lora (17 receptions, 215 yards, one touchdown) and Stony Brook's Kevin Norrell (eight receptions, 214 yards, two touchdowns). Stephen F. Austin's Cordell Roberson came up just short of 200 yards with 14 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Norell was the only receiver whose team came away with a victory.

Georgia Southern set an FCS single-game high in 2012, with 614 rushing yards in a 45-13 win at Western Carolina. The Eagles had three 100-yard rushers in their first road win of the season. It was only the fourth-largest rushing total in school history and the win was their 18th straight over WCU.

Portland State snapped a four-game losing streak in impressive fashion, defeating Idaho State, 77-10. Freshman quarterback Kieran McDonagh rushed for 66 yards and scored four touchdowns and he passed for 280 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings amassed 758 yards of offense and set a new school record with 437 rushing yards.

In Stephen F. Austin's 51-43 loss in the Battle of the Piney Woods versus Sam Houston State, the Lumberjacks rushed for just 21 yards on six rushing attempts. Running back Gus Johnson was the only SFA player to attempt a carry.

Alabama A&M is 6-0 for the first time since 1966. The Bulldogs took down Mississippi Valley State, 35-0, in Week 6, shutting out an opponent for the first time since 2005. Quarterback Deaunte Mason has accounted for 19 touchdowns through the first six games, including 11 touchdowns passing for 1,195 yards. The senior also has rushed for 214 yards and eight touchdowns.

Howard linebacker Keith Pough became the FCS' all-time leader in tackles for loss as he accounted for 3 1/2 in a crucial, 17-10 win over Florida A&M. The fifth-year senior now has 66 tackles for loss in his career. He added 17 total tackles, a forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass broken up and 2 1/2 sacks to help the Bison move to 4-1 on the season.

Stony Brook's super running back Miguel Maysonet became both the school and Big South's all-time leading rusher against Charleston Southern. Maysonet surpassed Conte Cuttino's school mark of 3,607 yards and Rashad Jennings' conference mark of 3,633 yards.

Six teams ranked in the FCS Top 25 lost in Week 6. Two of those teams came from the CAA, Towson and Delaware, and two more came from the Missouri Valley, Youngstown State and Illinois State. The remaining teams, The Citadel and Eastern Kentucky, are from the Southern Conference and the OVC, respectively.

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