On a day that gave the sport's many fans in Northeast Alabama the usual doses of Alabama and Auburn, JSU gave everyone something else to watch.
It didn't matter whether one was a JSU fan first or a JSU fan second and Alabama/Auburn first. JSU gave everyone reason to hit espn360.com and watch as the Gamecocks came within 35 seconds of upsetting Florida State.
Those who didn't or couldn't follow the game on espn360 could follow The Star's coverage on Twitter or check Facebook. JSU fans posted score updates on Facebook faster than espn.com could update its own scoreboard.
It was fun to imagine what became the very real chance that Football Championship Subdivision member JSU could leave Doak Walker Stadium with a victory.
It was fun to imagine what might follow, such as a spike in the national discussion about whether FSU coach Bobby Bowden should retire.
There's already discussion about the ACC's struggles against lower-division teams. Virginia and Duke lost to FCS teams to open the season, and Maryland nearly lost to James Madison on Saturday.
But imagine how JSU winning at Florida State would have amped that discussion.
The final 19-9 score belies the game that was.
And this JSU team, its season tagged with a postseason ban, gave fans reason to believe in what can be.
The Gamecocks also gave followers their first chance in a long time to enjoy comparing notes with old rival Troy, which suffered a 56-6 whupping at Florida.
It was a good day for JSU football and its fans.
It was a better-than-expected day for Alabama and Auburn fans who also follow JSU. They had reason to check the Internet constantly while watching their favorite teams rout overmatched visitors.
JSU needs emotions refueled
JSU comes out of its thrilling near-miss with a chance to make a positive of it.
After opening with two Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the Gamecocks have nine games remaining against teams on their level. Barring significant injuries, JSU should win those games.
Seven of those games come against Ohio Valley Conference competition. JSU would have been the easy favorite to win its league, but for the postseason ban.
The other two games come against Nicholls State and Alabama A&M.
JSU's season is all about making a positive out of a negative, and the Gamecocks got an early start Saturday. Outside of the team, only dreamers could have expected them to hang with Florida State.
JSU has set a goal to win all of its games against FCS competition. That goal looks a lot more doable now.
That's not to declare that it will happen.
It's an old story, an FCS team letting down after pushing an FBS opponent. The Gamecocks no doubt spent a lot of emotion on the rain-soaked Bobby Bowden Field on Saturday.
They must find enough emotion to get through nine more games.
But if the rest of JSU's season goes as Saturday's game showed it could, then the Gamecocks will make a positive out of a negative.
Tide keeping McElroy up
Assuming Alabama can protect Greg McElroy against the best defenses remaining on the schedule, the Tide can roll on with its new quarterback.
That began to look clear late in Alabama's season-opening victory against Virginia Tech, and clearer still as he lifted the Tide out of the doldrums against Florida International.
McElroy's 14 consecutive completions set a school record and lifted an Alabama team that fell behind 14-13 in the second quarter.
Even more impressively, he did it without star receiver Julio Jones, who went out with a knee injury early in the game.
Getting it done with the rest of the Tide's receivers is something McElroy will surely have to do against the best of the SEC's defenses.
His play backed up his showing against Virginia Tech, which could be summed up in two plays. He took a hit and threw an interception.
Later, with a Tech defender sprinting into his face, he threw a sideline strike to a double-covered Julio Jones.
Again, McElroy's effectiveness in the biggest games will depend on how well Alabama's remixed offensive line protects him.
That said, McElroy is looking less and less like a question mark.
Tigers' Burns has fun
It seems as though Kodi Burns received a great deal with his reduced role as Auburn's quarterback in the Wildcat formation. Chris Todd can be the starter, but Burns can score most of the touchdowns.
Can't beat that.
Auburn went to the Wildcat all four times in the red zone against Mississippi State, and all four times Burns got Auburn into the end zone. He ran for three scores and threw for another one.
He has rushed or passed for five touchdowns in two games this season. Auburn is 6-for-6 in the red zone this season, with five visits resulting in Burns-involved touchdowns.
Hey, scoring touchdowns is fun.
Doing it without the wear and tear that occurs between the 20-yard lines — and the pressure involved in being the starter — is a great deal.
The improvement also bodes well for an Auburn offense that struggled to score anywhere in 2008, especially the red zone.