The 2012 FCS College Football season may still be months away, but it's never too early to start looking ahead at many of the upcoming games.
Some of the most intriguing matchups are the ones which pit an FBS opponent against an FCS opponent. While most of these games see the FBS team winning easily, many of these battles will be extremely close. A select few will even see the FCS team pulling off the victory.
Here are three of these games that very well likely could go the "little guy's" way.
Eastern Washington at Idaho (Aug. 30)
This game may even see the Eastern Washington as the favorite. The Eagles will be one of the favorites to win the Big Sky Conference in 2012, but in their first game they will take on a struggling FBS team in the Idaho Vandals.
To start, the passing game for the Eagles should be outstanding in 2012. Even without standout quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the top four receivers return, including Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd.
In addition, SMU transfer Kyle Padron will likely take over the reins for the Eagles at quarterback. Padron passed for 3,828 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2010 before being replaced as starting quarterback by J.J. McDermott in 2011.
Idaho will likely have a hard time stopping the Eastern Washington aerial attack. The Vandals have a lack of depth in many areas on a defense which replaces six starters. The most notable holes are at linebacker with the loss of Korey Toomer and Tre'Shawn Robinson.
The Vandals offense is not looking much better with three starters gone off an inconsistent offensive line and an unproven starting quarterback in Taylor Davis.
In this game, look for the Eagles to pass all over the Vandals. Even with the loss of linebacker Matt Johnson, the Eagles still have lots of talent at the position with Ronnie Hamlin and Grant Williams to help shut down a questionable Vandal offense.
Look for Eastern Washington to pull off the "upset" rather easily here.
North Dakota State at Colorado State (Sept. 8)
The defending FCS National Champions may be even better in 2012.
Quarterback Brock Jensen is back with his 2,524 yards passing and 14 touchdowns in 2011. Leading rusher Sam Ojuri is also returning having rushed for 1105 yards in 2011. Ojuri is likely to put up even bigger numbers this season with the graduation of running back DJ McNorton who also rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2011.
Even more significant for the Bison will be their strong defense against a Colorado State offense with numerous question marks. While the Bison lose their leading tackler from 2011 in Chad Willson, North Dakota State still has a great amount of talent returning in the secondary, including safeties Colten Heagle and Christian Dudzik.
Also back are linebackers Travis Beck and Carlton Littlejohn.
The entire defense will have the opportunity and enough talent to put up outstanding statistics throughout the entire 2012 campaign. In 2011 the Bison led the FCS in defensive points per game with 12.7. The Bison were also fifth in interceptions in the FCS with 21.
Colorado State, on the other hand, will face many obstacles on offense in 2012. The Rams lose three starters off the offensive line and also lose their leading rusher from 2011 in Chris Nwoke. The Rams also do not have a definite starter at quarterback heading into 2012.
However, the Rams do have nine starters returning on defense that will be greatly improved from 2011. The key to the game will be the Bison defense. If North Dakota State can take advantage of a down Colorado State offensive line and questions surrounding quarterback for the Rams, the Bison will have a legitimate chance to pull off the upset.
Sam Houston State at Baylor (Sept. 15)
Simply put, Baylor should be the easy favorites in this game especially with 15 starters returning from a 2011 team which finished the season ranked No. 13 in the final AP Top 25 Poll.
However, Sam Houston State matches up really well against the 2012 Bears who will fight not only the loss of Heisman Trophy Winner Robert Griffin III, but the losses of running back Terrance Ganaway and wide receiver Kendall Wright.
Along with the prominent question marks on offense, Baylor will also see an overhaul on the defense in replacing two defensive lineman and middle linebacker Elliot Coffey, the Bears' leading tackler in 2011.
With the unknowns up front for Baylor, Sam Houston State's rushing attack should have the firepower to put up decent numbers even against the Bears.
Running back Tim Flanders returns as the third leading rusher in the FCS with 1,644 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wide receiver Richard Sincere will look to build on his 979 yards rushing in 2012 additionally, and will be a threat on the ground and through the air for the Bearkats.
Brian Bell also returns at quarterback for Sam Houston State.
Even though Baylor should be the fairly decent favorites in this game, do not be surprised if the Bearkats' strong rushing attack keeps it close with Baylor. Sam Houston State even pulling off the upset will not be shocking either.
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