The blowouts between Big Ten teams and smaller schools are coming to an end.
Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach Barry Alvarez told WIBA-AM that the league will stop scheduling FCS opponents (via ESPN):
The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous. It's not very appealing ...
So we've made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.
According to ESPN, it will likely be a few years until the conference schedules only Division I opponents, but the transition should be in full effect by 2016.
This shift marks a huge change in college football, as these small-school opponents have become a staple of the early season.
It gives coaches and players a chance to work on things in a scrimmage-like atmosphere, albeit one that counts in the standings. These games also serve to pad the record of mid-level teams that struggle during conference play.
However, this period is essentially a worthless week of the season. In 2012, Nebraska fans were forced to watch their team beat Idaho State—a team that finished the season with a 1-10 record—by a score of 73-7.
Of course, it was a completely different story in 2007, when Appalachian State pulled one of the biggest upsets in college football history by defeating No. 5 Michigan. Unfortunately, that game was more of the exception and not the rule. Upsets are extremely rare in FCS matchups, and do little other than diminish strength of schedule.
The Big Ten is setting the right example for the rest of the country by increasing the quality of its games. Hopefully for fans that pay to watch every game during a season, this is a trend that will continue in conferences around the nation.