Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – It is hard enough to get some FCS
programs to play risky out-of-conference matchups, so it’s really bad when the
unbalanced scheduling of bigger conferences prevent key games from happening.
Sure, there are plenty of big games in the 2015 season, but we’re not afraid to
say we’re greedy about wanting more. (FCS conference-by-conference schedule:
So greedy that here’s a baker’s dozen of matchups we wish were happening in
2015 (because one dozen wasn’t enough):
North Dakota State vs. Illinois State – Well, we could see this one again in
the national playoffs. But for the second consecutive season, last year’s co-
champs from the best FCS conference – the Missouri Valley – are not facing each
other. Their national championship meeting in January was a classic, with NDSU
winning, 29-27, for an unprecedented fourth straight FCS title.
Sam Houston State vs. Southeastern Louisiana – They tied for the Southland
Conference title a year ago and have played tight matchups in the playoffs in
each of the past two seasons. But they’re not matched in the conference
schedule for a second consecutive regular season.
New Hampshire vs. Villanova – CAA Football has the same problem as the
Southland as last year’s champion (UNH) and runner-up (Villanova) are not
facing each other once again. There’s always the playoffs …
James Madison vs. Liberty – Their rematch of last year’s Liberty playoff win
was nixed when JMU pulled out of a scheduled meeting for a game against SMU.
These two Virginia schools can taste a move to the FBS. Maybe the winner can
take on Jacksonville State, which also eyes a move upward.
Chattanooga vs. Northern Iowa – Matchups of Southern and Missouri Valley
conference teams occur in the playoffs. What’s wrong with matching conference
powers in the regular season?
Southeast Missouri State vs. Tennessee State – This selection is based on
principle. Tennessee State has a deal with the Ohio Valley Conference in which
it often plays one fewer OVC game than the rest of the conference. So another
team is forced into that same scenario, and this year it’s coach Tom
Matukewicz’s promising SEMO squad.
Jacksonville vs. San Diego – Both Pioneer Football League teams have let an FCS
playoff appearance slip away at the last minute due to ineligibility over the
league’s financial aid rules – San Diego in 2013 and Jacksonville last season.
Instead of a trophy, the winner could be given an extra compliance director.
Eastern Washington vs. Central Arkansas – No complaints with EWU because the
Eagles tend to take on anybody and everybody (even their old quarterback this
season). So let’s send them to UCA to see what a striped field is like.
Montana vs. Youngstown State – It sure would be nice to see these two programs
matched for the first time since the 1999 playoffs. Montana has made the most
FCS title game appearances (seven) and Youngstown State’s four national
championships are the most among active FCS programs. Hey, Jim Tressel would be
Montana State vs. Villanova – Quarterback matchups don’t get much better than
Montana State junior Dakota Prukop against Villanova senior John Robertson, the
2014 Walter Payton Award winner. Kind of mirror images.
Coastal Carolina vs. Sam Houston State – Neither team has been able to get past
North Dakota State in recent playoffs, so they should compare notes and then
take to the field.
Harvard vs. New Hampshire – Harvard beats Dartmouth and New Hampshire beats
Harvard. Let’s eliminate the middle men and put Harvard’s FCS-best 14-game
winning streak on the line in a non-league game that’s a little tougher than
what the Crimson usually have on their schedule.
Alcorn State vs. Morgan State – MEAC-SWAC matchups aren’t frequent, but the new
Celebration Bowl will start pairing the champions of the two historically black
FCS conferences. Maybe these two defending champs will meet after all.