Philadelphia, PA – The Big Ten is preparing to end games against FCS schools.
Are they running scared?
Well, not quite, but FCS schools are coming off a banner season against FBS programs, winning 10 matchups - the most since 2003. Included was eventual national champion North Dakota State claiming an FBS win for the third straight season.
FCS schools, who are always on the road for the games, hope for more success this season. Three conferences - the Missouri Valley, Southern and Southland - have all of their teams playing at least one FBS opponent. Only the non- scholarship Ivy and Pioneer leagues won't get in on the fun and understandably so.
Following is a conference-by-conference breakdown of the FCS-vs.-FBS matchups:
The Matchups (17) - Cal Poly at Fresno State (Sept. 7) and Colorado State (Sept. 14); Eastern Washington at Oregon State (Aug. 31) and Toledo (Sept. 14); Idaho State at Washington (Sept. 21) and Brigham Young (Nov. 16); Montana State at SMU (Sept. 7); Northern Arizona at Arizona (Aug. 30); Northern Colorado at Wyoming (Sept. 14); Portland State at California (Sept. 7); Sacramento State at San Jose State (Aug. 29) and Arizona State (Sept. 5); Southern Utah at South Alabama (Aug. 29) and Washington State (Sept. 14); UC Davis at Nevada (Sept. 7); Weber State at Utah (Sept. 7) and Utah State (Sept. 14)
Dateline, Upset City? - Montana State at SMU (Sept. 7). It will be another Texas homecoming for some of the Bobcats, including the offensive and defensive leaders, quarterback DeNarius McGhee and linebacker Na'a Moeakiola, respectively, who helped lead Trinity High in Euless to a 2008 state title.
Of Note - Four Big Sky teams posted wins over FBS opponents last season: Eastern Washington (Idaho); Sacramento State (Colorado); Northern Arizona (UNLV); and Cal Poly (Wyoming) ... Montana State canceled a much anticipated game at two-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State to secure the SMU matchup on Sept. 7.
The Matchups (5) - Coastal Carolina at South Carolina (Nov. 23); Gardner-Webb at Marshall (Sept. 7); Liberty at Kent State (Aug. 29); Presbyterian at Wake Forest (Aug. 29); VMI at Virginia (Sept. 21)
Dateline, Upset City? - Liberty at Kent State (Aug. 29). If Liberty wants to be an FBS program, here's a chance for the Flames to show what they have against an opponent that is trying to prove it is not a one-year wonder.
Of Note - Charleston Southern, 0-13 all-time against FBS opponents, is the only Big South program to be sitting it out this season. Maybe VMI should sit it out, too. The Keydets are winless in 27 attempts.
The Matchups (10) - Delaware at Navy (Sept. 14); James Madison at Akron (Sept. 7); Maine at Massachusetts (Sept. 7) and Northwestern (Sept. 21); New Hampshire at Central Michigan (Sept. 7); Richmond at North Carolina State (Sept. 7); Stony Brook at Buffalo (Sept. 14); Towson at Connecticut (Aug. 29); Villanova at Boston College (Aug. 31); William & Mary at West Virginia (Aug. 31)
Dateline, Upset City? - James Madison at Akron (Sept. 7). Considering JMU defeated Virginia Tech in 2010, Akron might need to have LeBron James in the lineup against the Dukes.
Of Note - Connecticut and Massachusetts were two of the six original members of the CAA when it was known as the Yankee Conference ... Delaware is 15-11 all-time against FBS opponents, including 7-9 against Navy.
The Matchups (6) - Abilene Christian at New Mexico State (Oct. 26); Old Dominion at East Carolina (Aug. 31), Maryland (Sept. 7), Pittsburgh (Oct. 19), Idaho (Nov. 9) and North Carolina (Nov. 23)
Dateline, Upset City? - Old Dominion at Idaho (Nov. 9). He won't throw for 730 yards, but Monarchs junior Taylor Heinicke will enjoy passing the ball inside the Kibbie Dome come November.
Of Note - ODU is transitioning toward Conference USA on the FBS level next year. Hence, the five games against FBS competition ... Abilene Christian is moving up from Division II and toward the Southland Conference next year.
The Matchups (11) - Bethune-Cookman at FIU (Sept. 14) and Florida State (Sept. 21); Florida A&M at Ohio State (Sept. 21); Howard at Eastern Michigan (Aug. 31); Morgan State at Army (Aug. 30) and Western Kentucky (Sept. 21); North Carolina Central at Duke (Aug. 31); Norfolk State at Rutgers (Sept. 7); Savannah State at Troy (Sept. 7) and Miami, Fla. (Sept. 21); South Carolina State at Clemson (Sept. 7)
Dateline, Upset City? - Bethune-Cookman at FIU (Sept. 14). The Wildcats' Florida-dominated lineup might feel like the favorite in this matchup. FIU has had two winning seasons in its 11-year history.
Of Note - To play the "Bull City Gridiron Classic" at Duke, North Carolina Central only has to make a five-mile trip. Pre-game jog? ... Florida A&M's visit to Ohio State will net a nifty $850,000 guarantee.
The Matchups (12) - Illinois State at Ball State (Aug. 29); Indiana State at Indiana (Aug. 29) and Purdue (Sept. 7); Missouri State at Iowa (Sept. 7); North Dakota State at Kansas State (Aug. 30); Northern Iowa at Iowa State (Aug. 31); South Dakota at Kansas (Sept. 7); South Dakota State at Nebraska (Sept. 21); Southern Illinois at Illinois (Aug. 31); Western Illinois at Minnesota (Sept. 14) and UNLV (Sept. 21); Youngstown State at Michigan State (Sept. 14)
Dateline, Upset City? - Indiana State at Indiana (Aug. 29). The host Hoosiers have an entire preseason camp to prepare for Sycamores senior Shakir Bell, but when it's time to play him, can they stop him from running all over Memorial Stadium?
Of Note - North Dakota State is 6-3 against FBS opponents since it joined the FCS in 2006, including a 22-7 triumph at Colorado State last year ... Despite finishing 3-8 last season, Western Illinois has legitimate hope against UNLV. The Rebels have lost to an FCS team in each of the past two seasons.
The Matchup (1) - Wagner at Syracuse (Sept. 14)
Dateline, Upset City? - Sorry, no chance here.
Of Note - Wagner played an FBS opponent for the first time last season and nearly pulled an upset, losing, 7-3, at Florida Atlantic.
The Matchups (13) - Austin Peay at Tennessee (Aug. 31), Vanderbilt (Sept. 7) and Ohio (Sept. 21); Eastern Illinois at San Diego State (Aug. 31) and Northern Illinois (Sept. 21); Eastern Kentucky at Louisville (Sept. 7); Jacksonville State at Georgia State (Sept. 21); Murray State at Missouri (Aug. 31) and Bowling Green (Sept. 21); Southeast Missouri State at Mississippi (Sept. 7); Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin (Sept. 7); UT Martin at Boise State (Sept. 7) and Memphis (Nov. 9)
Dateline, Upset City? - Jacksonville State at Georgia State (Sept. 21). A 1-10 final season in the FCS doesn't bode well for Georgia State's debut on the FBS level. Jacksonville State won the previous meetings in 2010 and '11.
Of Note - A return to the scene of the crime on Nov. 9: UT Martin beat Memphis, 20-17, last year at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium ... Just what last- place Austin Peay and new head coach Kirby Cannon need: three FBS opponents in their first four games.
The Matchups (2) - Colgate at Air Force (Aug. 31); Fordham at Temple (Sept. 14)
Dateline, Upset City? - Fordham at Temple (Sept. 14). Unlike the rest of the Patriot League, Fordham has four scholarship classes to help even the playing field.
Of Note - Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney seems like an ideal fit to run the Air Force offense. The Raiders have played Army 29 times and Navy six, but this is their first meeting with the Falcons.
The Matchups (13) - Appalachian State at Georgia (Nov. 9); Chattanooga at Georgia State (Sept. 7) and Alabama (Nov. 23); The Citadel at Clemson (Nov. 23); Elon at Georgia Tech (Aug. 31); Furman at LSU (Oct. 26); Georgia Southern at Florida (Nov. 23); Samford at Georgia State (Aug. 29) and Arkansas (Sept. 7); Western Carolina at Middle Tennessee (Aug. 29), Virginia Tech (Sept. 7) and Auburn (Oct. 12); Wofford at Baylor (Aug. 31)
Dateline, Upset City? - Chattanooga at Georgia State (Sept. 7). Not to pick on Georgia State, but Chattanooga should bring an even better team than Jacksonville State will to the Georgia Dome a week later. The Mocs will go from playing arguably the worst FBS program to the best, two-time defending national champion Alabama on Nov. 23.
Of Note - Western Carolina is one of three FCS teams that will play three FBS opponents (the others are Austin Peay and Nicholls) ... The SoCon, which is being picked apart, has long been one of the best FCS conferences, but none of its teams has beaten an FBS team since Appalachian State's historic win over fifth-ranked Michigan to open the 2007 regular season.
The Matchups (12) - Central Arkansas at Colorado (Sept. 7); Lamar at Louisiana Tech (Sept. 7) and Oklahoma State (Sept. 14); McNeese State at South Florida (Aug. 31); Nicholls at Oregon (Aug. 31), Western Michigan (Sept. 7) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 14); Northwestern State at Cincinnati (Sept. 14) and UAB (Sept. 21); Sam Houston State at Texas A&M (Sept. 7); Southeastern Louisiana at TCU (Sept. 7); Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech (Sept. 7)
Dateline, Upset City? - Central Arkansas at Colorado (Sept. 7). It's a shame this game won't be played on the purple-and-gray turf in Conway. The Bears don't lose there.
Of Note - This will be the second straight season Sam Houston State takes a shot at Johnny Football, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, when it visits Texas A&M ... Pity the running games at the Stephen F. Austin-Texas Tech game. Last season, SFA led the FCS in passing attempts (679) and Texas Tech was third in the FBS (594).
The Matchups (7) - Alabama A&M at Georgia Tech (Nov. 23); Alabama State at Kentucky (Nov. 2); Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Arkansas State (Aug. 31); Grambling State at ULM (Sept. 7); Jackson State at Tulane (Aug. 31); Prairie View A&M at Texas State (Sept. 7); Southern at Houston (Aug. 30)
Dateline, Upset City? - Alabama State at Kentucky (Nov. 2). Alabama State has its own SEC running back in Isaiah Crowell, the former Georgia rushing leader.
Of Note - Only Grambling State and Jackson State have defeated FBS opponents out of the seven SWAC teams hoping to do so this season.