College Football 2011 Predictions: 10 FBS Teams That Could Lose to an FCS Team
It's the new fad in college football: The mighty beat up on the very weak.
It really isn't fair. A team that gives out 85 scholarships schedules a team that gives out, at most, 63.
But of the current 120 FBS programs, 117 schedule FCS opponents, at least from time to time. Only USC, UCLA and Notre Dame still maintain some sense of honor and refuse to place FCS cupcakes on their respective menus.
In 2011, there will be 82 games between FBS and FCS schools.
While the vast majority of them will be over by the time the second quarter begins, there's always a chance...
The vast majority of FCS programs have no shot against the FBS, but we've seen the top FCS programs pull a rabbit out of their helmet and sneak one past their much more well-funded opponents. James Madison over Virginia Tech. North Dakota State over Minnesota. Appalachian State over Michigan.
So do any of these FCS programs have a shot in 2011?
Of course they do!
Here are 10 FCS teams that could beat their 2011 FBS opponents.
10. Buffalo vs. Stony Brook
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If there's one group of FBS schools that should be ripe for the picking by FCS schools, it has got to be MAC schools.
Stony Brook, from the abysmally weak Big South, will face off against Buffalo from the abysmally weak MAC on September 10.
Stony Brook is an inconsistent team from the Big South that has bounced between 5-6 and 6-5 seasons every year since 2005.
Buffalo, for its part, isn't much better. The Bulls finished 2010 with a 2-10 record—in the MAC.
In fact, in all of 2010, the only two teams they beat were FCS Rhode Island and fellow MAC team Bowling Green State.
Don't be surprised if Stony Brook ends up on top in this game, and it wouldn't even be surprising if it's favored.
9. Boston College vs. UMass
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The Minutemen will be joining the MAC (in football only) and the FBS for the 2012 season, so this game will be will an important one for UMass.
UMass will be eligible for the MAC Championship Game beginning in 2013, and if the Minutemen wish to have a shot at a trip to Ford Field anytime soon, now is the time to start.
UMass had a good showing in 2010 at Michigan Stadium against the Wolverines, eventually falling by a score of 42-37.
The Eagles of Boston College will need to be on top of their game, as UMass has proven that it can compete against FBS programs—and Boston College is no Michigan.
This September 24 game should be circled on your calendar, as it's sure to be entertaining.
8. Temple vs. Villanova
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For the third consecutive year, Temple and Villanova will participate in one of the very few inter-divisional rivalries.
An intense five-school rivalry, known as the Philadelphia Big 5, exists between Temple, Villanova, Penn, La Salle and St. Joseph's.
The intense rivalry has spilled over from the basketball courts to the gridiron, and Temple and Villanova renewed the football rivalry in 2009—a game that Villanova won, 27-24, before cruising to an FCS national championship.
The annual football game, currently scheduled to continue through at least the 2012 season, is a battle for the “Mayor's Cup,” presented by the mayor of Philadelphia to the winning team. The trophy was established for the 2009 game.
In the all-time series between these two programs, Villanova actually leads with a 16-12-2 edge.
The Wildcats will again be a favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association and are hoping to improve on last season's 9-5 performance, which ended with a national semifinal loss to eventual national champion Eastern Washington.
7. Indiana vs. South Carolina State
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South Carolina State has had a terrific run over the past few seasons in the FCS, sporting a record of 29-8 since the start of the 2008 season.
SC State will again be the favorite in the MEAC and will be looking for a fourth consecutive playoff berth.
Indiana is definitely not a Big Ten powerhouse, and with SC State looking for an early boost to its season, the Hoosiers will need to give this September 17 game the attention it deserves. It's easy to look past an FCS program, but if you're Indiana, playing an FCS opponent of the quality of SC State might not be a “gimmie” like so many FBS fans believe.
6. Minnesota vs. North Dakota State
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Although probably not expected to win, should the Bison from North Dakota State top Minnesota, it wouldn't shock anyone.
After all, it wouldn't be NDSU's first victory over Minnesota. In 2007, these two teams met midseason, and the Bison came out victorious with a 27-21 win.
North Dakota State is also coming off an impressive 9-5 season that ended with a close playoff loss to eventual FCS national champion Eastern Washington.
Minnesota, on the other hand, had yet another disappointing season in 2010, finishing 3-9. Although the Gophers should finish with a better record in 2011, they're probably nowhere near being able to compete for anything better than a middle-of-the-road finish in the Big Ten.
5. Idaho vs. North Dakota
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The Fighting Sioux from North Dakota will face off once again with the Idaho Vandals in 2011.
The 2010 meeting between these teams definitely didn't end the way Sioux fans had hoped, with Idaho claiming a 45-0 victory.
So why is North Dakota over Idaho a possibility in 2011?
First, North Dakota is a relative newcomer to the FCS, making the move from Division II in 2008. In its three seasons in the FCS, North Dakota has been able to patch together two winning seasons. Now entering their fourth season in the FCS, all of the Division II holdovers will be mostly gone, and the Sioux will be sporting a complete squad of FCS recruits.
The Sioux will also be eager to erase the scars of 2010, and the best way to start would be with a momentum-building win against Idaho on September 10.
4. Vanderbilt vs. Elon
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The Elon Phoenix will have a golden opportunity to announce their return to FCS contention when they face the SEC's Vanderbilt in 2011.
The Phoenix had a down year in 2010, finishing 6-5, well off their playoff berth-earning 9-3 record in 2009.
Still, Elon hasn't had a losing season since 2006, and a victory over Vanderbilt could be just what the doctor ordered to reinvigorate a program that can't quite seem to break through in the FCS.
Vanderbilt, for its part, isn't exactly the strongest member of the FBS's strongest conference. After starting the 2008 season with five consecutive wins, the Commodores are just 6-26.
If ever there is an FBS team ripe for the picking, Vandy is it.
3. Houston vs. Georgia State
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Georgia State started its football program in 2010 and went 6-5—impressive for a team that had never played football prior to last season.
Georgia State finished up 2010 by getting steamrolled (predictably) by the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Don't expect Georgia State to be content with becoming the new FCS whipping dog in the South. The program is getting all of the support it needs from the university, and its aggressive recruiting will have the program in prime shape by the time it's eligible for postseason play (new teams spend a few years in a “provisional” status, meaning they're ineligible for the playoffs).
After a surprising and impressive 2009, Houston slipped dramatically in 2010, finishing with five fewer wins at 5-7. While the Cougars certainly hope to rebound in 2011, there's not an overwhelming reason why they should, and it's doubtful we'll see anything like their 10-4 2009 season.
2. NC State vs. South Alabama
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The South Alabama Jaguars are as yet an unknown.
Last season was the program's first year of football, and amazingly the Jaguars ran the table, finishing 10-0.
Of course, there were a pair of Division II programs mixed into their schedule last year, but there were some impressive wins over Georgia State and UC-Davis as well.
South Alabama is an independent in football and a member of the Sun Belt in all other sports. The Jaguars will join the Sun Belt in football in 2013, making the move to the FBS.
Playing a program like NC State is just what South Alabama needs, and it will be making every effort for a good showing in its first-ever game against an FBS opponent.
1. Virginia Tech vs. Appalachian State
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Virginia Tech lost in 2010 to FCS James Madison.
Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007.
The history is there, and the Mountaineers have proven to be a feisty squad over the years.
What works in Virginia Tech's favor here, though, is the recent loss to an FCS squad.
Don't expect the Hokies to allow any FCS team—much less one with the biggest FCS over FBS win in college football history under its belt—to sneak up on them in 2011.
Appalachian State isn't the team it once was either. When the Mountaineers walked out of Michigan Stadium with a win, they were in the midst of quite a run in the FCS, winning their third consecutive national championship that year.
Last season, Appalachian State made a less than conspicuous exit in the second round of the playoffs (playoffs, you say?), losing 42-24 to Villanova.
Not many will give the Mountaineers much of a chance against Virginia Tech.
Then again, no one gave the Mountaineers a chance against Michigan.