Upsets in the making? FCS schools aiming to knock off FBS teams


FCS teams have often played the role of the Little Sisters of the Poor and walked away with hefty paydays when going up against FBS opponents. However, they have also caused some headaches. In fact, they claimed nine victories in such games last season with five of the victories belonging to ASN-affiliated teams.

What follows is a conference-by-conference glimpse of FBS games that the network’s FCS teams have scheduled for 2016.

The Ivy League does not have any games scheduled against FBS programs and has not since 2014 when Yale beat visiting Army in overtime.


• Presbyterian at Central Michigan: The last two seasons the Blue Hose played five FBS opponents. Last year they lost both such games at Miami (OH), 26-7, and at FBS newbie Charlotte, 34-10. Presbyterian, which will be playing the Chippewas for the first time, has lost all 11 of its games against the FBS.

Sept. 3

• Liberty at Virginia Tech: The Flames split a pair of games against FBS opponents last season, losing at West Virginia, 41-17, and winning at Georgia State, 41-33. This will be their first meeting against the Hokies and fifth versus the ACC.

Sept. 10

• Charleston Southern at Florida State: The Buccaneers do not shy away from scheduling the big boys and this will be their second encounter with the Seminoles having lost 62-10 in 2011. All three of Charleston Southern’s defeats last season were to teams from Alabama, including a 56-6 pasting at the hands of the Crimson Tide. The loss dropped them to 0-for-17 against the FBS.

Sept. 17

•  Liberty at SMU: For the fourth consecutive season the Flames scheduled a pair of FBS programs. Their all-time mark against the FBS is 4-19. This will be Liberty’s first engagement with the Mustangs.

•  Monmouth at Kent State: The Hawks scheduled a MAC opponent for the second straight season. Last year, in their first-ever game against and FBS foe, they lost at Central Michigan, 31-10.

Sept. 24

•  Gardner-Webb at Ohio: This will mark the third meeting in 10 years between the teams with Ohio winning the previous two by an aggregate 66-17. Last season the Bulldogs fell at South Alabama, 33-23, to drop to 1-11 versus the FBS.

Nov. 19

•  Presbyterian at Florida: The Blue Hose open and close the regular season with an FBS opponent. The trip to the Swamp will mark the program’s third meeting against the SEC. Harold Nichols’ team is looking for its first point against the conference having been blanked at Ole Miss in 2014 (48-0) and at Vandy in 2012 (58-0).

CAAFootballSept. 1

•  Maine at Connecticut: This will be the 74th meeting between the former Yankee Conference members. The only meeting since UConn elevated to the FBS was a 38-0 Huskies win in 2007. The Black Bears are 3-14 versus FBS teams.

•  William & Mary at N.C. State: This will be the 21st meeting between the teams with NCSU leading 12-8, though the Tribe last claimed victory in 1958.  W&M has lost six straight to FBS foes with four of them by seven points or less, including last season’s 35-29 setback at Virginia.

Sept. 2

•  Albany at Buffalo: The team’s met last season in what was the Great Danes’ first game against a full-fledged FBS opponent. UB came away with a 51-14 win.

Sept. 3

•  Villanova at Pitt: The Wildcats are 3-17 against the FBS. They lost a couple of heartbreakers the last two seasons: 20-15 at UConn a year ago and 27-26 in double OT at Syracuse in 2014. As an FCS member VU lost (48-41) its only previous meeting to Pitt in 1998.

•  Richmond at Virginia: This marks the 13th straight season the Spiders play a team from the FBS and they are 5-34 overall, including a 50-21 loss at Maryland last season. They trail the all-time series with UVA, 2-28-2, and have lost all seven as an FCS program. The teams last met in 2014 with the Cavaliers winning, 48-14.

 Towson at USF: The Tigers’ lone win in nine matchups against FBS program came at UConn in 2013. They lost at East Carolina last year, 28-20. This will be their first meeting against the Bulls.

•  Rhode Island at Kansas: The Rams, who play KU for the first time, have lost all 13 games against FBS teams, including last season’s 48-0 defeat at Syracuse. The Jayhawks opened 2015 a 41-38 loss to visiting South Dakota State of the Missouri Valley Conference.

•  New Hampshire at San Diego State: For the second straight season the Wildcats open with a trip to California to play an FBS team. Last year they lost at San Jose State, 43-13. UNH is an eye-opening 7-9-1 versus the FBS. The ‘Cats won five straight from 2004-09 before losing their last six such matchups.

Sept. 10

•  Stony Brook at Temple: The Sea Wolves head into their first meeting versus the Owls with a 1-6 mark against the FBS. Stony Brook’s last five FBS matchups have resulted in a win (23-3 at Army in ’12), two overtime defeats, a three-point setback and an 11-point defeat. Last season they trailed Toledo at the half, 16-7, before the game was cancelled due to weather.

•  Elon at Charlotte: In-state schools about a two-hour drive apart played in 2014 with Elon emerging as a 20-13 victor. The Phoenix lost at Wake Forest (41-3) last season to fall to 0-8 against the FBS.

•  Maine at Toledo: The Black Bears open with back-to-back FBS opponents as they did in 2015, which resulted in defeats at Boston College (24-3) and at Tulane (38-7). This is the first meeting between the schools.

Sept. 17

•  James Madison at North Carolina: The Dukes lost both previous meetings with the Tar Heels, including 42-10 at Chapel Hill in 2011. JMU piled up 729 yards in outslugging SMU last year, 48-45, to up their record against FBS teams to 5-19. They beat No. 13 Virginia Tech, 21-16, in 2010.

•  Delaware at Wake Forest: Since beating Navy, 59-52, in 2007 the Blue Hens have lost six straight to FBS programs, including 41-14 at North Carolina last season. It was a 20-14 game late in the third quarter. The teams’ only previous meeting was a 7-0 Wake win in 1932.

conf_OVCSept. 1

•  UT-Martin at Cincinnati: Each of the last four years the Skyhawks scheduled two FBS games. This year they up the ante to three. Jason Simpson’s team is 1-20 all-time against the FBS with the lone win a 20-17 decision over Memphis in 2012. UTM was buried in last season’s opener at Ole Miss, 76-3, and lost to Arkansas on Halloween, 63-28.

Sept. 3

•  Eastern Kentucky at Purdue: The team’s previously met in the 2012 season opener with the Boilermakers coming out on top, 48-6. Last season the Colonels lost at NC State (35-0) and led Kentucky late before losing in overtime, 34-27. EKU has lost 21 of its last 22 against the FBS with the lone win a 17-10 decision at Miami (Ohio) in 2014.

•  Murray State at Illinois: This will be the first meeting between the schools and the Racers’ first against a Big Ten program since losing to Minnesota in 2001. Last season MSU lost to a pair of teams from the MAC: Northern Illinois (57-26) and Western Michigan (52-20) to fall to 2-25-2 versus the FBS.

•  Southeast Missouri State at Memphis: This will be the sixth meeting between the schools, but first since Franklin Roosevelt resided in office in 1934. The Redhawks lost (34-3) at Missouri in last season’s opener to fall to 1-20 against the FBS.

•  Austin Peay at Troy: The Governors’ recent history against the FBS has played out on an embarrassing level as they have lost their last six by a combined 283-16. Last season they lost to Southern Miss, 52-6, and Vanderbilt, 47-7.

Sept. 10

•  Jacksonville State at LSU: The Gamecocks lost in overtime at No. 6 Auburn last year, 27-20, and in 2010 defeated Ole Miss in double OT, 49-48. The game in Baton Rouge will mark JSU’s 14th against a Power Five conference opponent since 2002 with Ole Miss being the lone victory.

•  UT Martin at Hawaii: The 8,400-mile roundtrip to Honolulu will make the opener at Cincinnati seem like walking distance. The furthest west the Skyhawks previously traveled was to Boise State in 2013.

•  Eastern Illinois at Miami (Ohio): Behind QB Jimmy Garoppolo in 2013 the Panthers beat San Diego State by 22 and lost to Northern Illinois by four. The last two seasons they lost all three game sagainst the FBS, including 41-0 at Northwestern last year.

Sept. 17

•  Eastern Kentucky at Ball State: This is the fifth season in the last nine that the Colonels scheduled a pair of FBS opponents. EKU’s last meeting against a MAC program was a 17-10 verdict over Miami (OH) in 2014.

Oct. 22

•  UT Martin at Georgia State: This first meeting with the Panthers could represent the Skyhawks’ best chance to win their first game versus an FBS program since upending Memphis in 2012.

•  Tennessee State at Vanderbilt: This will be the Tigers’ first game against an FBS opponent since losing to Air Force in 2011. The only previous meeting between the Tigers and Commodores was in 2006 with Vandy winning, 38-9.

Nov. 5

•  Tennessee Tech at Tennessee: This will be the first meeting between the in-state schools since 1951. The Golden Eagles have lost all 30 games against the FBS, including last year’s 52-24 setback at Houston. It was only the second time in those 30 games Tech scored more than 17 points.


•  Colgate at Syracuse: For the fourth straight year the Raiders scheduled an FBS program. Last year they lost at Navy, 48-10.  Dating to 1950 Colgate has lost 15 straight to the Orange, including the most recent meeting (42-7) in 2010.

Sept. 3

•  Fordham at Navy: It was only five years ago the Rams played their first game against an FBS opponent and head to Annapolis 1-4 in such games. The win came at Temple in 2013 when Fordham scored a TD with four seconds remaining in the game. This will be the Rams’ first meeting with Navy.

Oct. 15

•   Lafayette at Army West Point: This will mark the Leopards’ first FBS opponent since 1997 when they lost to Army in West Point, 38-36. It will be the 19th meeting between the programs with Army leading 17-1.


•  Furman at Michigan State: After being thumped by Virginia Tech in their second game last season the Paladins traveled to Orlando the following week and upended UCF, 16-15. Furman had only a single victory (North Carolina, 1999) in their previous 25 games against the FBS.

Sept. 3

•  VMI at Akron: Against another MAC opponent last season the Keydets piled up 547 yards in losing, 48-36, at Ball State. This will be the fourth time in six years they will play a team from the MAC. VMI lost to the Zips, 36-13, in 2011.

•  Western Carolina at East Carolina: The Catamounts keep trying. Losses to Tennessee (55-10) and Texas A&M (41-17) last season made them 0-for-51 all-time against the FBS. The Pirates contributed four of the losses with the most recent in 1981.

Sept. 10

•  Mercer at Georgia Tech: Three years ago when the Bears returned to the gridiron following a 71-season absence their first opponent was Reinhardt (Ga.) of the NAIA. Thirty-five games later they play the Yellow Jackets, who participated in the ACC championship game two years ago. (Alabama and Auburn are the slate next year.)

•  Wofford at Ole Miss: The Terriers, who will play the Rebels for the first time, have scared a couple of big boys the past decade in losing by eight points at Clemson in 2011 and 10 at South Carolina in 2006. After falling, 49-10, at Clemson in last season’s opener Wofford came up short (41-38) at Idaho two weeks later.

Oct. 29

•  Samford at Mississippi State: This will be the first meeting in 53 years between the schools. The game will also mark Samford’s fifth game in six seasons against a team from the SEC with the most recent a 31-7 season-ending loss at Auburn in 2014. Last season the Bulldogs lost at Louisville, 45-3.

Nov. 19

•  Chattanooga at Alabama: The Mocs and Crimson Tide will meet for the 13th time. Since 2008 UTC has played five games against top-10 FBS opponents. Included are two against ‘Bama: losses of 49-0 in 2013 and 45-0 in ’09.

•  The Citadel at North Carolina: The South last year, the North this year? The Bulldogs made headlines last season with a 23-22 win at South Carolina in which the triple-option piled up 350 yards rushing. The win over the Gamecocks was their first over an FBS team since 1992 and eighth overall. The Citadel has lost all four meetings to the Tar Heels, including 40-9 in 2009.

•  Western Carolina at South Carolina: For the second straight season the Catamounts play a pair of games against FBS teams. This is their fifth meeting (0-4) against the Gamecocks with the last one in 1989.

Southland-Conference-logoSept. 3

•  Abilene Christian at Air Force: The Wildcats moved up the FCS in 2013 and have played an FBS program each year. Last season they opened with a 34-13 defeat at Fresno State. Their other games were a one-point loss at Georgia State in 2014 and a five-point setback at New Mexico State in ’13.

•  Northwestern State at Baylor: The Demons have lost all four games against the Bears, including by a 70-6 margin in 2014. NSU has 11 victories (35 losses) against the FBS with the most recent a 30-27 decision over Louisiana Tech two weeks after the Baylor drubbing. Last season Jay Thomas’ team lost in consecutive weeks to Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State by a combined 106-30.

•  Southeastern Louisiana at Oklahoma State: Since the school reinstated football in 2003 the Lions have lost all 20 contests versus the FBS, including a 35-14 setback at Ohio last season. This is their first meeting with Oklahoma State.

•  Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech: The Lumberjacks often schedule an in-state school from the Big XII. They have lost twice previously in Lubbock, including 61-13 in 2013. Last season SFA lost at TCU, 70-7, to fall to 3-12 versus the FBS.

Sept. 10

•  Lamar at Houston: The Cardinals have lost all six games against the FBS since the program was brought back in 2010. Last year they dropped a 66-31 decision at Baylor.

•  McNeese at Louisiana Lafayette: These in-state programs met annually for the Cajun Crown from 1951-1986, though only once since. That was 2007 when MSU came out on top, 38-17, to run their series advantage to 20-15-2. The Cowboys have had much recent success against FBS opponents. They opened the 2013 season with a 53-21 win at USF and lost at Nebraska by only 31-24 in the ’14 opener. The game at LSU last season was cancelled due to weather.

•  Nicholls at Georgia: This will be the initial meeting between the schools. The Colonels are 3-25 against the FBS with their most recent win a 27-23 verdict over Western Michigan in 2013. On the flip side their last 10 defeats at the hands of FBS foes have been by an ungodly 606-62. Last season they lost at Louisiana-Monroe (47-0) and Colorado (48-0).

Sept. 24

•  Central Arkansas at Arkansas State: The teams last met in 2011 with ASU winning 53-24. The Bears, who regularly play an FBS opponent, lost in last season’s opener at Oklahoma State, 32-8. UCA lost by seven points at Texas Tech in 2014.

•  Nicholls at South Alabama: The Colonels typically play at least two FBS opponents each season and this year is no exception. This is the third meeting between the teams and first since South Alabama elevated to the FBS. The Jags won both previous games.

Oct. 1

•  Houston Baptist at Western Kentucky: In their fourth season of football the Huskies will play as many games against FBS opponents as they had wins last season: two. The Hilltoppers will be HBU’s first FBS foe.

•  Incarnate Word at Texas State: The Cardinals’ first game against an FBS team was a 27-17 loss at UTEP last season. The program debuted in 2009 and this season will be their fourth at the FCS level.

Nov. 5

•  Houston Baptist at UTEP: The Miners will be the Huskies’ second FBS opponent. Like Western Kentucky , UTEP is from Conference USA.

Above: Linebacker Joel McCandless of Jacksonville State runs the ball down the sidelines after an interception at Auburn on Sept. 12, 2015. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger is a freelance writer based in Glen Mills, Pa.