College football technically reintroduced itself with a Cal-Hawaii game in Australia on Friday (Eastern time, anyway). But the 2016 season's stateside debut was Saturday, in the form of defending FCS champion North Dakota State hosting Charleston Southern at the Fargodome.
It was boring, then it was weird and, all in all, it was lots of fun. When the dust settled, the Bison had started the defense of their fifth consecutive FCS national title with a 24-17 win in overtime.
Let's review all the ways in which the Bison and Buccaneers put on a quintessentially college football show!
1. The offense was, at first, terrible. Sometimes, a 0-0 first quarter is soothing. This was that. Nobody scored in the first quarter, and there were only a few good bursts of offense. This was maybe the best one:
The verdict is in on Charleston Southern:— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) August 27, 2016
But that was fine. It was a reminder that the quality of play in this sport is, uh, not always great. That's cool, especially now, because it affirms that college football has returned to us.
2. But then some stuff happened! This game featured a total of 20 first-half points (10 per side), and it felt like a Big Ten game in a dome with a little triple-option flavor from Charleston Southern. But the quality of play picked up in the second half, mainly thanks to NDSU, which got a game-winning 25-yard touchdown run from King Frazier on the first play of overtime and this 47-yard touchdown throw from new quarterback Easton Stick to receiver RJ Urzendowski.
THAT'LL DO pic.twitter.com/auEBKRL1Zb— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) August 28, 2016
3. College kickers made an appearance. Both teams missed field goals before the first points were scored, and they missed the uprights by a combined 50 feet or so.
4. A cool college punter made an appearance. CSU's Truett Burns dropped this 54-yard beauty in the shadow of NDSU's goal posts for an easy downing. Just put Charleston Southern in the Big Ten, already.
oh heavens it's beautiful pic.twitter.com/o7dLB6nP18— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) August 28, 2016
5. The game was in a dome. And a dome called the Fargodome, no less. That's excellent.
6. That finish! A quick rundown: Charleston Southern trailed 17-10 with a shade more than three minutes to play. But the Bucs converted a fourth-and-10 with a sideline route, despite not throwing the ball with any competency all night. They tied the game with a 6-yard scoring run with 179 seconds remaining. NDSU took the ball and marched into field goal range, then marched out of field goal range with a dumb penalty.
The Bison correctly decided to try to convert a fourth-and-5 from the Southern 35-yard line, rather than boot a 53-yard field goal with one of the aforementioned college kickers. But that didn't turn out brilliantly, because Stick threw an interception to star cornerback Troy McGowens, who sprinted back to NDSU's 40-yard line.
This eventually gave Southern an out-of-nowhere chance to win it with a 51-yard buzzer-beater, but Jacob Smoak's game-winning bid sailed wide left. That set up a smooth overtime triumph for the Bison, but they had to wait to learn that their final defensive stop would hold up when a pass interference flag turned out to be against the Southern offense. On a night like this one, of course they did.
This had everything college football's supposed to have.
Bad offense! Good offense! Bad kickers! Good punters! A quirky field! A walk-off offensive pass interference signal!
College football was already back, but now it's back, and not a moment too soon.