Dangerous Games: Small Teams - Big Upsets

Bohdi SandersContributor IIISeptember 13, 2010

It has become common practice over the past few years to integrate FCS (1-AA) teams into the schedules of BCS teams. This is done to give BCS teams a tune-up game and to pad their win/loss records with another win. These games are supposed to be automatic wins for the big boys. But times are changing.

Someone forgot to tell the FCS schools that they aren't supposed to come in and compete. They are being paid to come in and give the BCS schools a nice scrimmage, that's all.The last thing they are expected to do is come in and embarrass the host school by playing their eyes out. And God forbid they do the unthinkable and defeat their host in front of the home crowd.

But that is exactly what is happening in many cases. FCS teams are no longer being intimidated by the BCS schools. Last year, Appalachian State defeated Michigan in Big House, 34-32. And this trend is continuing in the 2010 season.

So far this season, six FBS teams have fallen in defeat to FCS (1-AA) teams. And several others FBS teams have merely escaped defeat by the skin of their teeth. Washington State only defeated Montana State by one point on Saturday. Here is a recap of the six FCS upsets so far this season:

  • Jacksonville State defeated Ole Miss, 49-48
  • James Madison defeated Virginia Tech, 21-16
  • North Dakota State defeated Kansas, 6-3
  • South Dakota defeated Minnesota, 41-38
  • Garner-Webb defeated Akron, 38-37
  • Liberty defeated Ball State, 27-23




So what is driving this trend? Has the distribution of talent become so balanced that any football team can beat any other team on any given day, or is there something deeper behind these monumental upsets? Most, if not all of the FBS teams obviously get the best talent, so there must be some other factors coming into play in these games.

Here's the key to these victories. Football is a mental game. Sure, talent, conditioning, and coaching mean a lot. But all of the practice, talent, conditioning, and coaching mean nothing if the team doesn't have their heads in the game. Motivation plays a tremendous part in the game of football. You have to use your skill and knowledge, not simply go through the motions.

FBS schools are scheduling FCS schools for easy wins. Everyone on the team knows they are expected to rout these teams on their schedule. The fans know it. The coaches know it. And the players know it. These games are supposed to be gimmes, plain and simple.

Now here's the catch-22. Nobody gets excited about these games—not the fans, not the coaches, and not the players. Everyone sees these games as just a glorified scrimmage. Well, almost everyone. The FCS teams have a totally different view.

To the FCS teams, this is a chance to prove themselves against the big boys, the schools who look down on them. These teams have something to prove. They come to the game with a chip on their shoulder. These coaches and players have pride just like any other competitive players. They do not like be looked at as patsies. They come to the game fired-up and ready to prove to the world that they are not pushovers.




On the other hand, many FBS teams are looking past these games to the "real" teams on their schedules. Their heads are not in the game. They expect to win just by showing up. Well, this is not the way it works. Mental preparation is vital to the game of football. Any team that feels they can win just because they play in the "big league" is in danger of being upset period.

Furthermore, scheduling a team which is considered very weak competition hurts the FBS team's overall ranking in the BCS. Competition is part of the equation. Isn't this why so many people disrespect Boise State? Scheduling a FCS team can really turn into a double whammy for the BCS teams.

Teams like Michigan, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, and Kansas have already demonstrated what can happen if the team loses its focus and overlooks FCS teams. These monumental upsets stem from motivational issues. This is something that every coach should know and prepare for, but it appears many of the coaches are counting these games as automatic wins along with everyone else.

Maybe it is time for the FBS teams to quit trying to pad their win columns by scheduling "gimmes" and have the guts to schedule real games that the players and fans can get excited about. FBS teams should be embarrassed to schedule FCS teams to pad their win/loss records. It serves them right when one of these teams makes a mockery of them in front of their home crowd.

There is no such thing as a team that has no chance. What one man can do, another can do. There are no gimmes. Just ask Ole Miss or Virginia Tech. FCS teams have served notice, "Take us seriously or pay the price!"

Bohdi Sanders ~ www.TheWisdomWarrior.com