No doubt you’ve circled plenty of Saturdays on your calendar for this fall. College football is coming and not soon enough to its millions of fans.
The excitement often starts with early-season matchups between FBS and FCS programs, when the big boys in Division I have to be on guard. Last year, nine FCS teams topped the much-larger FBS.
While North Dakota State at Iowa and Eastern Washington at Washington are among the anticipated FCS vs. FBS matchups, there are some not to get excited about. Many times, the FCS team gets its payday and leaves with a lopsided defeat.
Ho, hum, take the bad with the great upsets.
Here are 10 FCS vs. FBS pairings (in chronological order) to return to sender in 2016:
Mississippi Valley State at Eastern Michigan (Sept. 2) & Rhode Island at Kansas (Sept. 3)
Let’s group these opening-weekend matchups together. Perhaps these teams should be playing each other, though, because the quartet combined for a 3-43 record last season.
UC Davis at Oregon (Sept. 3)
The visiting Aggies from the Big Sky Conference played hard last season and their 2-9 record may have been deceptive, but … huh, what? The Ducks won’t mind putting up 70 points to get their season going.
Savannah State at Georgia Southern (Sept. 3)
Granted, Georgia Southern is only in its third year on the FBS level, but it beat Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference program Savannah State 77-9 as an FCS program in 2013 and then 83-9 in ‘14. Since Savannah started playing FBS programs regularly in 2012, it has been outscored by an average of 62 points in nine bad losses.
Howard at Maryland (Sept. 3)
Two schools that are seven miles apart are meeting for the first time, but the gap between their programs is much greater. Howard’s only win last season came against Savannah State and the Bison were outscored 399-114 in 10 losses.
Nicholls at Georgia (Sept. 10)
The Colonels from the Southland Conference were riding a 22-game losing streak at one point last season. It might be a moral victory if they aren’t tackled into the hedges at Sanford Stadium.
Delaware State at Missouri (Sept. 24)
Traditional rivals collide, er, Delaware State heads west for a matchup nobody could have foreseen. The Hornets are coming off a 1-10 season and their two best returning players departed as graduate transfers.
Houston Baptist at Western Kentucky (Oct. 1)
This is the unfortunate-timing game. The Southland Conference visitor is still a young program and its first venture into the FBS comes against a once-struggling Western Kentucky program that is coming off a 12-2 season and Conference USA title.
Alabama A&M at Auburn (Nov. 19)
Nothing prepares Auburn for the Iron Bowl a week later quite like playing a struggling team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, whose members haven’t beaten an FBS opponent since 1985.
Presbyterian at Florida (Nov. 19)
Presbyterian has the smallest undergraduate enrollment among FCS schools at about 1,200, nearly 50,000 less than Florida. Welcome to the Swamp.
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.