In the FCS Huddle: FCS eyes more success vs. FBS

Philadelphia, PA ( - FCS conferences have been trumpeting that the top teams on their level of college football are a lot like the teams from the non-BCS conferences.

What better way to show there's a narrow gap than for the FCS teams to beat FBS programs?

Last year, that happened more than ever before - 16 times, highlighted in the season's opening weekend when North Dakota State upset Kansas State and Eastern Washington toppled nationally ranked Oregon State, and capped by FBS- bound Georgia Southern's win over Florida in The Swamp.

Barring any hastily scheduled games, there will be 108 FCS-FBS matchups this season. While another 16 FCS wins seems unlikely, the FBS teams will want to take the games seriously.

Following is a conference-by-conference breakdown of the matchups:


The Matchups (17)

Cal Poly - at New Mexico State (Aug. 28)

Eastern Washington - at Washington (Sept. 6)

Idaho State - at Utah (Aug. 28), at Utah State (Sept. 6)

Montana - at Wyoming (Aug. 30)

Montana State - at Arkansas State (Aug. 30)

North Dakota - at San Jose State (Aug. 28)

Northern Arizona - at San Diego State (Aug. 30)

Northern Colorado - at UNLV (Sept. 6)

Portland State - at Oregon State (Aug. 30), at Washington State (Sept. 13)

Sacramento State - at California (Sept. 6)

Southern Utah - at Nevada (Aug. 30), at Fresno State (Sept. 20)

UC Davis - at Stanford (Aug. 30), at Colorado State (Sept. 13)

Weber State - at Arizona State (Aug. 28)

Dateline, Upset City?

Cal Poly at New Mexico State (Aug. 28). The visiting Mustangs provide an unorthodox look with the triple option which led the FCS in rushing yards per game last season. Oh yes, it doesn't hurt that New Mexico State is a Sun Belt program that went 2-10 last season.


After beating an FBS program in each of the last four years, en route to the last three FCS national titles, former North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl makes his FBS debut at Wyoming against perennial FCS power Montana on Aug. 30. The Grizzlies last beat an FBS team in 2003 (Idaho).


The Matchups

Charleston Southern - at Vanderbilt (Oct. 11), at Georgia (Nov. 22)

Gardner-Webb - at Wake Forest (Sept. 6)

Liberty - at North Carolina (Aug. 30), at Appalachian State (Oct. 11)

Presbyterian - at Northern Illinois (Aug. 28), at North Carolina State (Sept. 20), at Mississippi (Nov. 8)

Dateline, Upset City?

Gardner-Webb at Wake Forest (Sept. 6). With end Shaquille Riddick and tackle O.J. Le'iatua Mau, the Runnin' Bulldogs have an FBS-type defensive line to prey on Wake's stuggling offense. The Bulldogs pulled some upsets on the FCS level last season. This one would be bigger.


Presbyterian, which has the smallest enrollment among FCS schools, is one of three FCS programs to be playing a trio of FBS opponents this season (Savannah State and Nicholls are the other two).


The Matchups

Delaware - at Pittsburgh (Aug. 30)

Elon - at Duke (Aug. 30)

James Madison - at Maryland (Aug. 30)

Maine - at Boston College (Sept. 20)

New Hampshire - at Toledo (Aug. 30)

Rhode Island - at Marshall (Sept. 6)

Richmond - at Virginia (Sept. 6)

Stony Brook - at Connecticut (Sept. 6)

Towson - at West Virginia (Sept. 6)

Villanova - at Syracuse (Aug. 30)

William & Mary - at Virginia Tech (Aug. 30)

Dateline, Upset City?

New Hampshire at Toledo (Aug. 30). The Wildcats have a veteran team coming off a national semifinal finish, but the seniors might remember a 58-22 loss at Toledo in 2011.


When James Madison first-year coach Everett Withers was North Carolina's head coach for one season in 2011, he debuted with a win over his new CAA team. Maryland, which nipped the Dukes, 38-35, in overtime in 2009, will be debuting as a Big 10 member.


The Matchups (14)

Bethune-Cookman - at FIU (Aug. 30), at UCF (Sept. 20)

Delaware State - at Temple (Sept. 20)

Florida A&M - at Miami-Florida (Sept. 6)

Hampton - at Old Dominion (Aug. 30)

Howard - at Akron (Aug. 28), at Rutgers (Sept. 6)

Morgan State - at Eastern Michigan (Aug. 30)

North Carolina Central - at East Carolina (Aug. 30)

Norfolk State - at Buffalo (Sept. 20)

Savannah State - at Middle Tennessee (Aug. 30), at Georgia Southern (Sept. 6), at BYU (Nov. 22)

South Carolina State - at Clemson (Sept. 6)

Dateline, Upset City?

Bethune-Cookman at FIU (Aug. 30). This is a revenge matchup. For FIU, that is. Bethune put a 34-13 whipping on the Panthers a year ago for its first win over an FBS program.


Considering the better pay days are at hand, Florida A&M doesn't shy away from elite competition. The Rattlers' last four FBS games have ended with the following losses: 45-0 to Miami (Fla.); 70-17 to South Florida; 69-13 to Oklahoma State; and 76-0 to Ohio State. A&M is 1-8 all-time versus Miami, having been outscored a combined 400-49.


The Matchups (12)

Indiana State - at Indiana (Aug. 30), at Ball State (Sept. 13)

Missouri State - at Oklahoma State (Sept. 6)

North Dakota State - at Iowa State (Aug. 30)

Northern Iowa - at Iowa (Aug. 30), at Hawaii (Sept. 13)

South Dakota - at Oregon (Aug. 30)

South Dakota State - at Missouri (Aug. 30)

Southern Illinois - at Purdue (Sept. 20)

Western Illinois - at Wisconsin (Sept. 6), at Northwestern (Sept. 20)

Youngstown State - at Illinois (Aug. 30)

Dateline, Upset City?

Northern Iowa at Hawaii (Sept. 13). UNI knows all about beating FBS opponents, with last year's victory over Iowa State its 10th since 1985. The Panthers, behind senior running back David Johnson, must view their trek to Honolulu as a business trip.


The Big Ten may not want the FCS, but the Missouri Valley wants the Big Ten, with six more matchups this season. Illinois had to sweat it out against Southern Illinois last year, winning, 42-34.


The Matchups (2)

Duquesne - at Buffalo (Aug. 30)

Wagner - at FIU (Sept. 6)

Dateline, Upset City?

Wagner at FIU (Sept. 6). The Seahawks get FIU a week after Bethune-Cookman's visit to Miami. They opened their 2012 Northeast Conference-championship season with a four-point loss at Florida Atlantic.


Duquesne's game against Buffalo is its first against an FBS team, although the two programs used to meet on the Division II level.


The Matchups (12)

Austin Peay - at Memphis (Aug. 30)

Eastern Illinois - at Minnesota (Aug. 28), at Ohio U. (Sept. 27)

Eastern Kentucky - at Miami-Ohio (Sept. 6), at Florida (Nov. 22)

Jacksonville State - at Michigan State (Aug. 30)

Murray State - at Louisville (Sept. 6), at Western Michigan (Sept. 20)

Southeast Missouri State - at Kansas (Sept. 6)

Tennessee Tech - at Houston (Sept. 27)

UT Martin - at Kentucky (Aug. 30), at Mississippi State (Nov. 8)

Dateline, Upset City?

Eastern Kentucky at Miami-Ohio (Sept. 6). A lot of EKU players took on increased roles last season, and they get a chance to show how much they've grown when they visit a Mid-American Conference squad that was winless last season.


The successor to 2013 Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will make his debut for Eastern Illinois against Minnesota. A year ago, Garoppolo opened his banner senior season by leading the Panthers to an upset of San Diego State.


The Matchups (2)

Colgate - at Ball State (Aug. 30)

Fordham - at Army (Nov. 22)

Dateline, Upset City?

Fordham at Army (Nov. 22). FCS teams often open their season against an FBS opponent. Fordham, which beat Temple last season, hopes to gain playoff momentum by ending its regular season with an FBS scalp. Quarterback Michael Nebrich returns with three - count 'em, three - 1,000-yard wide receivers, Sam Ajala, Tebucky Jones and Brian Wetzel.


New Colgate coach Dan Hunt's debut against Ball State will match him against a familiar face. While Hunt was a longtime assistant at Colgate, Ball State coach Pete Lembo spent eight seasons at Patriot League rival Lehigh, the 1998-2000 seasons as an assistant and the 2001-05 seasons as head coach.


The Matchup (1)

Campbell at Appalachian State (Sept. 6)

Dateline, Upset City?

Sorry, no upset here, Appalachian State isn't going to lose to a non- scholarship team, especially one that has a combined four wins over the last two seasons.


Campbell has played teams that have moved on to the FBS level (Old Dominion and Georgia State), but this is the Camels' first matchup against an actual FBS team, albeit a transitioning Sun Belt Conference squad in App State.


The Matchups (11)

UT-Chattanooga - at Central Michigan (Aug. 28), at Tennessee (Oct. 11)

The Citadel - at Florida State (Sept. 6)

Furman - at South Carolina (Oct. 18)

Samford - at TCU (Aug. 30), at Auburn (Nov. 22)

VMI - at Bowling Green (Sept. 6), at Navy (Oct. 11)

Western Carolina - at South Florida (Aug. 30), at Alabama (Nov. 22)

Wofford - at Georgia Tech (Aug. 30)

Dateline, Upset City?

UT-Chattanooga at Central Michigan (Aug. 28). The odd team out among the SoCon tri-champions last year, the Mocs are seeking their first playoff bid since 1984. There's no better way for the Mocs to build a playoff resume than with a win over an FBS opponent.


Seems like old times: Samford coach Pat Sullivan was the starting quarterback at Auburn from 1969-71, winning the 1971 Heisman Trophy, and he was TCU's head coach from 1992-97, leading the program to a Southwest Conference title in 1994.


The Matchups (13)

Abilene Christian - at Georgia State (Aug. 27), at Troy (Sept. 13)

Central Arkansas - at Texas Tech (Aug. 30)

Lamar - at Texas A&M (Sept. 6)

McNeese State - at Nebraska (Sept. 6)

Nicholls - at Air Force (Aug. 30), at Arkansas (Sept. 6), at North Texas (Sept. 20)

Northwestern State - at Baylor (Sept. 6), at Louisiana Tech (Sept. 20)

Sam Houston State - at LSU (Sept. 6)

Southeastern Louisiana - at Tulane (Sept. 13)

Stephen F. Austin - at Kansas State (Aug. 30)

Dateline, Upset City?

Southeastern Louisiana - at Tulane (Sept. 13). Southeastern Louisiana has a FBS transfer at quarterback (Bryan Bennett) among its many transfers and FCS championship dreams. Tulane better not overlook the Lions.


Winless Georgia State lost to three FCS programs as it transitioned to the Sun Belt Conference last year. Abilene Christian gave another Sun Belt team a tussle last season, falling to New Mexico State, 34-29. Junior running back Herschel Sims, who played at Oklahoma State and Lamar, is now at Abilene Christian.


The Matchups (5)

Alabama A&M - at UAB (Sept. 13)

Alcorn State - at Southern Mississippi (Sept. 6)

Arkansas-Pine Bluff - at Texas State (Aug. 30)

Grambling State - at Houston (Sept. 6)

Southern - at Louisiana (Aug. 30)

Dateline, Upset City?

Alcorn State at Southern Mississippi (Sept. 6). Alcorn State is well positioned on the Golden Eagles' schedule, sitting between Mississippi State and Alabama. They better pay attention to Braves quarterback John Gibbs.


Seven SWAC teams lost to one FBS opponent each last season. The closest margin of defeat was 25 points and the average was just over 40 points per game. Ouch.