Even on a weekend where Oregon went into Ohio State and took down annual national championship contender Ohio State, the talk of college football from Saturday night on was Jacksonville State’s historic and stunning upset of Florida State on the road Saturday night.
By now you’ve seen the play, Zerrick Cooper drops back to pass, hits Damond Philyaw-Johnson in stride, who rather than go down or try to get to the sidelines for a possible field goal attempt, cuts back to his left, avoids both Florida State defenders, gets a block from Ahmad Edwards, and into the end zone leaving more than 60,000 Seminoles fans to sit in stunned silence.
“You've got to play at a certain level execution-wise in these type games and we did that night," said Jacksonville State head coach John Grass as players and coaches celebrated around him. "We missed a chance to score on the same play before. Damond was open and we missed him and we decided to do it again.”
I know Jacksonville State has a Division II National Title from the early 90s, has made the FCS title game within the past decade, and even has a double overtime victory over SEC foe Ole Miss back in 2010, but this is the signature win for the program in its first year as a member of the ASUN. A win over one of the 10 or so most historic programs in the history of college football. On national TV, and on the type of play that you don’t forget, even if you have no interest in either school.
It’s the signature win for former Albertville coach John Grass, who again, despite being one of the best coaches in FCS over the past eight seasons, including six playoff trips and that previously mentioned National Championship game berth, is somebody who might and should end up on the radar of programs at the next level looking for a coach. They’ve shown they can compete in these games under Grass, doing it last year when they led FSU at halftime, then later in the year beat FBS Florida International on the road. But to pull off an upset of this magnitude is something the coaches, players, and school will never forget, no matter what heights they reach going forward.
For the rest of Saturday night and all throughout Sunday, all you saw on highlight shows, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you get your college football news and highlights, there was the play being shown over and over again, and shared on social media over and over again.
And as it kept showing, more and more people learned about one of the most successful FCS programs of the last decade, and that they are in fact in this region of Alabama, not located in the Jacksonville down in Florida that everyone knows about.
This is the type of win that has potential students Googling the school to learn more about all that JSU has to offer, and the type of win that even if people don’t end up going there, they might buy a JSU t-shirt and years from now people will say, ‘Hey I remember that play against Florida State!’
But it also now puts a target on JSU’s back, and something they’ll have to step up and meet going forward. Everyone wants to be the team to beat the team that beat Florida State, that in itself is its own feather in the cap.
It was the win of a lifetime, and hopefully this Saturday for their home opener against North Alabama they see a hero’s welcome and a packed house inside the stadium to show their appreciation for a win nobody will ever forget.