In the FCS Huddle: Let the dreams of FCS-FBS upsets begin

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Eight generally is enough when it comes
to FCS schools beating FBS programs in a college football season.

But coming on the heels of a record 16 wins in 2013, last year’s great eight
felt like a letdown.

Still, any FCS win over an FBS program is notable considering the Cinderella
feel to it and the difference in scholarships – 85 for FBS schools versus 63
for the FCS.

The highlights in 2014 were North Dakota State beating a power conference
opponent, though Iowa State has been struggling in the Big 12, and Northwestern
State beating a Louisiana Tech program that won nine times, including in the
Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Teams from Conference USA and the Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are
the most susceptible to losing to FCS teams because they more resemble the
lower half of Division I than the power conferences.

Nearly two-thirds of the 125 FCS programs – 82 of them – will combine to play
in 107 matchups against the FBS this year. Those numbers include the non-
scholarship FCS programs – San Diego is the lone one taking the leap – so more
than three-quarters of the scholarship programs are playing at least one FBS
opponent.

This year, FCS teams are allowed 11 regular-season games after having two
straight seasons at 12, so playing more than one FBS opponent is a double-edged
sword when it comes to building a playoff resume. It offers the chance to boost
it with an upset, but there’s also a stronger chance for two losses.

Following are this year’s FCS-FBS matchups:

BIG SKY

The Matchups (13)

Cal Poly – Sept. 12 at Arizona State

Eastern Washington – Sept. 5 at Oregon

Idaho State – Sept. 18 at Boise State; Sept. 26 at UNLV

North Dakota – Sept. 5 at Wyoming

Northern Arizona – Sept. 19 at Arizona

Portland State – Sept. 5 at Washington State; Oct. 10 at North Texas

Sacramento State – Sept. 12 at Washington

Southern Utah – Sept. 5 at Utah State

UC Davis – Sept. 3 at Nevada; Sept. 19 at Hawaii

Weber State – Sept. 4 at Oregon State

Most Fascinating Matchup

No FBS matchup is bigger in FCS circles than Eastern Washington at Oregon if
quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., EWU’s starter the last 2 1/2 seasons, is under
center for Oregon after transferring into the Ducks’ program for his final
season.

Dateline, Upset City?

UNLV only won twice last season and one of the victories was a 13-12 escape
against struggling Big Sky member Northern Colorado. Idaho State might even be
favored over the Rebels if Justin Arias was still its quarterback. Coach Mike
Kramer’s squad will still be good after the breakout 2014 campaign, so the
Bengals’ high-scoring attack hopes to keep rolling 7s in Vegas.

Notable

Big Sky powers Montana and Montana State are both not playing an FBS opponent
this season … In his 11 seasons leading North Dakota State’s national
championship-winning program, two-time Eddie Robinson Award-winning coach Craig
Bohl only faced North Dakota once, a 28-21 overtime loss in his 2003 rookie
campaign. His Wyoming squad hosts a UND squad that finished strong in 2014.

BIG SOUTH

The Matchups (8)

Charleston Southern – Sept. 12 at Troy; Nov. 21 at Alabama

Gardner-Webb – Sept. 5 at South Alabama

Liberty – Sept. 12 at West Virginia; Oct. 3 at Georgia State

Monmouth – Sept. 12 at Central Michigan

Presbyterian – Sept. 5 at Miami (Ohio); Sept. 12 at Charlotte

Most Fascinating Matchup

Liberty coach Turner Gill returns significant offensive talent this season. The
Flames, who aspire to play in an FBS conference, will need to put up plenty of
points to beat West Virginia.

Dateline, Upset City?

Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell has done a terrific job in leading the
Buccaneers to an 18-7 record over his first two seasons, including a 21-20 loss
at Vanderbilt last season. His squad was a replacement on Troy’s schedule for
UAB’s shut-down program, and it appears primed to make the Trojans regret
the choice.

Notable

This will be a second straight year FCS power Coastal Carolina is not playing
an FBS opponent … Monmouth’s matchup against Central Michigan is its
first ever against an FBS opponent … Transitioning FBS member Charlotte, set
to host Presbyterian, was 3-6 against FCS programs last season, including 0-3
against Big South programs.

CAA FOOTBALL

The Matchups (13)

Albany – Sept. 5 at Buffalo

Delaware – Sept. 26 at North Carolina

Elon – Sept. 3 at Wake Forest

James Madison – Sept. 26 at SMU

Maine – Sept. 5 at Boston College; Sept. 19 at Tulane

New Hampshire – Sept. 3 at San Jose State

Rhode Island – Sept. 5 at Syracuse

Richmond – Sept. 5 at Maryland

Stony Brook – Sept. 3 at Toledo

Towson – Sept. 5 at East Carolina

Villanova – Sept. 3 at Connecticut

William & Mary – Sept. 19 at Virginia

Most Fascinating Matchup

New Hampshire has played in California only once and it will be 10 years to the
day on Sept. 3 when the national semifinalist from each of the past two seasons
treks all the way to San Jose State. Ironically, both programs date to 1893.

Dateline, Upset City?

UConn struggled to beat Stony Brook last season and lost to Towson two years
ago. The Huskies won’t be thrilled to be chasing around Villanova quarterback
John Robertson, the 2014 Walter Payton Award winner.

Notable

The CAA is the only FCS conference to have all of its members playing at least
one FBS game … Boston College is hosting Maine for the second straight year,
having rolled to a 40-10 victory last season. But the visiting Black Bears have
three wins in eight all-time meetings.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC

The Matchups (14)

Bethune-Cookman – Sept. 5 at Miami (Florida)

Delaware State – Sept. 12 at Kent State

Florida A&M – Sept. 5 at South Florida

Howard – Sept. 5 at Appalachian State; Sept. 12 at Boston College

Morgan State – Sept. 5 at Air Force

North Carolina A&T – Sept. 12 at North Carolina

North Carolina Central – Sept. 12 at Duke; Sept. 19 at FIU

Norfolk State – Sept. 5 at Rutgers; Sept. 12 at Old Dominion; Sept. 19 at
Marshall

Savannah State – Sept. 5 at Colorado State; Sept. 19 at Akron

Most Fascinating Matchup

Coming off a 9-3 record and its most wins since 2003, North Carolina A&T will
head to North Carolina to face an FBS opponent for the first time since
Louisiana-Lafayette in ’06. A&T coach Rod Broadway was an All-ACC defensive
lineman for the Tar Heels in 1977 and later was an assistant coach at his alma
mater.

Dateline, Upset City?

North Carolina Central, which returns quarterback Malcolm Bell and three
players who were first-team All-MEAC, realizes FIU has lost each of the past
two seasons to another MEAC program, Bethune-Cookman.

Notable

Norfolk State is the only FCS program that will play three FBS opponents, and
it’s doing so in consecutive weeks. The trip to Old Dominion is less than five
miles across town for the Spartans and new coach Latrell Scott.

MISSOURI VALLEY

The Matchups (10)

Illinois State – Sept. 5 at Iowa

Indiana State – Sept. 12 at Purdue

Missouri State – Sept. 5 at Memphis; Sept. 19 at Arkansas State

Northern Iowa – Sept. 5 at Iowa State

South Dakota – Sept. 5 at Kansas State

South Dakota State – Sept. 5 at Kansas

Southern Illinois – Sept. 5 at Indiana

Western Illinois – Sept. 12 at Illinois

Youngstown State – Sept. 5 at Pittsburgh

Most Fascinating Matchup

Amid lofty expectations, new Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini is making his
debut against a Pittsburgh squad that figures to be motivated by a 31-17 loss
to the Penguins in their last meeting in 2012.

Dateline, Upset City?

Iowa State has lost at home to Northern Iowa in 2013 and North Dakota State
last year. And here comes UNI again, with some transfers to lessen the team’s
graduation losses.

Notable

It’s ironic South Dakota will play at Kansas State and South Dakota State will
be at Kansas on the same opening day (Sept. 5). Was there a group discount
on flights? … Four-time reigning FCS champion North Dakota State has won its
last five games against FBS opponents, but it isn’t playing one this season.

NORTHEAST

The Matchups (2)

Wagner – Sept. 5 at Rice; Oct. 24 at BYU

Most Fascinating Matchup

Having played in front of 37,366 fans for all 11 games last year, Wagner will
feel a little out of place at BYU’s 63,470-seat Lavell Edwards Stadium – the
largest stadium the Seahawks will have played in.

Dateline, Upset City?

Wagner has played Conference USA teams in two of its first three all-time FBS
matchups, but Rice, which won the Hawaii Bowl and finished 8-5 last season,
will be a step up as first-year Seahawks coach Jason Houghtaling makes his
debut.

Notable

Wagner is playing two FBS opponents for the first time.

OHIO VALLEY

The Matchups (12)

Austin Peay – Sept. 12 at Southern Mississippi; Sept. 19 at Vanderbilt

Eastern Illinois – Sept. 12 at Northwestern

Eastern Kentucky – Sept. 12 at North Carolina State; Oct. 3 at Kentucky

Jacksonville State – Sept. 12 at Auburn

Murray State – Sept. 12 at Northern Illinois; Sept. 19 at Western Michigan

Southeast Missouri State – Sept. 5 at Missouri

Tennessee Tech – Sept. 5 at Houston

UT Martin – Sept. 5 at Mississippi; Oct. 31 at Arkansas

Most Fascinating Matchup

After suffering a lopsided loss at Michigan State last season, Jacksonville
State comes back a year wiser, and it hopes stronger, for a first-ever meeting
with Auburn. With the Gamecocks, it all starts up front with a defensive line
of 2014 OVC defensive player of the year Devaunte Sigler, LaMichael Fanning and
Chris Landrum. That’s SEC-esque.

Dateline, Upset City?

The Eastern Illinois veterans have played in plenty of big games in recent
seasons, so they won’t be fazed by a trip to Northwestern. With quarterback
Jalen Whitlow coming on strong, the Panthers will have plenty of firepower.

Notable

After a strong finish to his 2013 season at Kentucky, power back Dy’Shawn
Mobley made a surprise transfer to Eastern Kentucky. The 2014 OVC offensive
player of the year will be motivated upon his return to Lexington … OVC teams
own five wins over FBS opponents since 2010.

PATRIOT

The Matchups (3)

Bucknell – Oct. 17 at Army

Colgate – Sept. 5 at Navy

Fordham – Sept. 4 at Army

Most Fascinating Matchup

Fordham running back Chase Edmonds wasn’t at full strength physically, gaining
69 yards on 13 carries, when the Rams lost last year’s final regular-season
game at Army. The 2014 Jerry Rice Award winner will have an entire offseason to
rest up for a potential big outing to open the 2015 campaign.

Dateline, Upset City?

It’s not ideal for Bucknell to start league play on Oct. 10 and jump back out
to an FBS matchup a week later. But Army has lost to an FCS school in two of
the last three seasons and Bucknell returns a veteran team coming off an eight-
win campaign.

Notable

Although familiar opponents in many Patriot League sports, Colgate and Navy are
meeting in football for the first time since 1998. Navy has a 6-0 series lead.

PIONEER

The Matchup (1)

San Diego – Sept. 5 at San Diego State

Most Fascinating Matchup

Hoping to build on a Pioneer Football League championship and an FCS playoff
appearance, San Diego will meet the FBS program in town for the first time in
54 years. San Diego State won that first matchup, 42-12 in 1961. No, Toreros
head coach Dale Lindsey, 72, wasn’t in the profession just yet.

Dateline, Upset City?

USD will make the short trip to Qualcomm Stadium, but an upset of San Diego
State seems so far away.

Notable

With San Diego State in need of an extra game on Sept. 5, USD nixed a
previously scheduled game with Northern Arizona from the Big Sky to take the
more lucrative game.

SOUTHERN

The Matchups (11)

Chattanooga – Nov. 21 at Florida State

The Citadel – Sept. 19 at Georgia Southern; Nov. 21 at South Carolina

Furman – Sept. 12 at Virginia Tech; Sept. 19 at UCF

Samford – Sept. 26 at Louisville

VMI – Sept. 3 at Ball State

Western Carolina – Sept. 19 at Tennessee; Nov. 14 at Texas A&M

Wofford – Sept. 5 at Clemson; Sept. 19 at Idaho

Most Fascinating Matchup

With Jameis Winston gone from Florida State, Chattanooga senior Jacob Huesman
hopes to be the best quarterback on the field when the Mocs visit Tallahassee.
The Mocs, with a $550,000 payday, will be a loose team with nothing to lose.

Dateline, Upset City?

Wofford expects to be improved after a pair of subpar seasons by program
standards. Idaho coaches may want to start studying the triple option this
spring because Georgia Southern follows the Terriers into the Kibbie Dome a
week later.

Notable

Former SoCon rivals running the triple option offenses will go at it again when
The Citadel visits Georgia Southern, which has an 18-5 lead in the series. Last
year, Georgia Southern averaged 381.1 rushing yards per game as a new FBS
member while The Citadel ranked second in the FCS (347.2) … Western Carolina,
coming off a breakout season, might have the toughest two-team combo in
Tennessee and Texas A&M.

SOUTHLAND

The Matchups (12)

Abilene Christian – Sept. 5 at Fresno State

Central Arkansas – Sept. 12 at Oklahoma State

Incarnate Word – Sept. 26 at UTEP

Lamar – Sept. 12 at Baylor

McNeese State – Sept. 5 at LSU

Nicholls – Sept. 12 at ULM; Sept. 26 at Colorado

Northwestern State – Sept. 12 at Louisiana-Lafayette; Sept. 19 at Mississippi
State

Sam Houston State – Sept. 5 at Texas Tech

Southeastern Louisiana – Sept. 19 at Ohio

Stephen F. Austin – Sept. 12 at TCU

Most Fascinating Matchup

Sam Houston State has athleticism and 20 returning starters from a national
semifinalist. Texas Tech struggled at home last season and won’t have the
certainty at quarterback that the Bearkats have with Jared Johnson.

Dateline, Upset City?

Abilene Christian hasn’t been in the FCS long enough to even get a rise out of
opponents on that level, so Fresno State might lack focus when they kick off
the season. Coach Ken Collums’ Wildcats had some solid wins last season,
including at Troy.

Notable

Since the rebirth of its program in 2003, two-time defending Southland champion
Southeastern Louisiana is 0-19 against the FBS. Ohio is coming off a 6-6
season.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC

The Matchups (8)

Alabama A&M – Sept. 5 at Cincinnati

Alcorn State – Sept. 3 at Georgia Tech

Grambling State – Sept. 5 at California

Jackson State – Sept. 5 at Middle Tennessee

Mississippi Valley State – Sept. 5 at New Mexico

Prairie View A&M – Sept. 12 at Texas State

Southern – Sept. 5 at Louisiana Tech; Sept. 26 at Georgia

Most Fascinating Matchup

Grambling’s brand recognition is still strong even if the football program
isn’t at its one-time great level. Still, the Tigers were a breakout 7-5 under
first-year coach Broderick Fobbs and they will open his second season by
visiting Cal for the first time.

Dateline, Upset City?

The SWAC generally isn’t full of FBS upsets, but Texas State has to take
Prairie View A&M’s all-purpose threat Johnta Hebert seriously. He led the FCS
in all-purpose yards per game last season.

Notable

The last SWAC team to beat an FBS opponent was Grambling in 1985, 23-6 over
Oregon State … Southern will have two chances to end an 0-9 all-time mark.