Like swallows returning to Capistrano, every year college football fans bemoan FBS schools scheduling smaller FCS teams for guaranteed victories.
But every year, FCS teams rise up and beat FBS teams — some even putting a major scare into a powerhouse. (See Jacksonville State-Auburn in 2015.)
For fans of The Citadel, having the opportunity to take down the biggest dog in their state — South Carolina — makes it worthwhile.
In what was supposed to be a tuneup for their rivalry game against Clemson, the Gamecocks were tripped up by The Citadel, 23-22, last year.
This year the Bulldogs will try to make it two in a row vs. Carolina schools when they play North Carolina on Nov. 19 — one of our top 10 games in 2016.
GAMES TO WATCH IN 2016
27 — Charleston Southern at North Dakota State: The Buccaneers, Big South title contenders, and Bison, four-time defending FCS national champions, open the season in the 2016 FCS Kickoff in Fargo, N.D. The game will be CSU’s first appearance on ESPN.
3 — Southern Miss at Kentucky: If you're looking for an FBS upset special, this might be it. The Golden Eagles likely will open the season as Conference USA’s team to beat against the SEC’s Wildcats.
10 — Jacksonville State at LSU: The FCS runner-up Gamecocks make their first trip to Baton Rouge, but before you mark this down as a guarantee game for the Bayou Bengals, consider that JSU almost knocked off Auburn on the road last season.
17 —Western Carolina vs. East Tennessee State at Bristol Motor Speedway: A week after Tennessee plays Virginia Tech at the NASCAR speedway, ETSU kicks off its return to the Southern Conference against the Catamounts at the historic track. “It’s especially cool for me,” said WCU head coach Mark Speir, “a guy from Kannapolis, N.C., who grew up in the heart of NASCAR country and has been a fan all my life, to have our team compete on that stage in what will be transformed into college football’s largest stadium.”
24 — Kent State at Alabama: MAC programs will play three non-conference foes that finished in the final AP Top 10, including Bowling Green at Ohio State (4) and Miami (Ohio) at Iowa (9) on Sept. 3, but none bigger than the Golden Flashes at Alabama (1). Alabama head coach Nick Saban is a Kent State graduate.
8 — Northern Illinois at Western Michigan: Battle of MAC Western Division contenders could decide who plays the Eastern Division champion in the conference title game.
29 — Marshall at Southern Miss: Two of Conference USA’s top quarterbacks, the Thundering Herd’s Chase Litton and the Golden Eagles’ Nick Mullens, meet in what could be a conference championship game preview.
5 — Colgate at Fordham: Colgate beat Fordham 31-29 last season to clinch the Patriot League championship. The Rams, led by junior running back Chase Edmonds, get the rematch at home this season.
19 — Richmond at William & Mary: James Madison, Richmond and William & Mary shared the 2015 CAA Football title with 6-2 records and this game, a week after the Spiders play JMU, could decide the 2016 champion.
19 — The Citadel at North Carolina: Unlike South Carolina last year, North Carolina this is a projected Top 20 team and the Tar Heels are 4-0 all time against the Bulldogs. So can the Bulldogs make it two in a row against Carolina schools? It will be fun to watch them try.
Above: The Citadel celebrates its first victory against South Carolina in 25 years. (Courtesy of @CitadelFootball via Twitter)