It’s usually not "will," but "when" and "where" for the victories
The majority of FCS wins over FBS programs come against those in the Group of 5 conferences.
Last year, it was five of the seven wins. Two years ago, it was eight of nine.
This year, out of 114 matchups between the two levels of Division I, the best chances for more upsets still involve Group of 5 programs instead of the Power 5 teams.
Here are 12 potential FCS upsets to look for in 2019:
Albany at Central Michigan (Aug. 29)
Albany's best season as a CAA Football member — 7-4 in 2016 — included its only FBS win, a season-opening, 22-16 triumph at Buffalo. The Great Danes will want to run the ball with junior Karl Mofor and make it an ugly, defense-oriented matchup. Central Michigan hired former Florida and Colorado State coach Jim McElwain after going 1-11 last season.
Northern Colorado at San Jose State (Aug. 29)
San Jose State is 3-22 over the last two seasons and lost to UC Davis in last year’s opener. Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp, back with a sixth season of eligibility, has flashed terrific skills when healthy.
Illinois State at Northern Illinois (Aug. 31)
Illinois State has a two-game winning streak against the FBS, beating Northwestern in 2016 and Colorado State last year. New NIU head coach Thomas Hammock, who was a running back at the school, knows a standout runner when he sees one, and he will impressed by the Redbirds’ James Robinson, who went for 184 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado State.
Colgate at Air Force (Aug. 31)
Colgate will have played a game because it is opening in Week Zero against Villanova. While the graduation-ravaged Raiders won’t match last year’s success and Air Force should be improved, the Patriot League champ still has the blueprint for outstanding defense.
Incarnate Word at UTSA (Aug. 31)
There’s extra pressure on UTSA as the FBS squad in this intracity matchup. UIW quarterback Jon Copeland, the 2018 Southland Conference freshman of the year, will spread out a UTSA defense that allowed over 31 points per game last season.
Sam Houston State at New Mexico (Aug. 31)
The last time they met in 2011, Sam Houston State beat New Mexico 48-45 in overtime to start a perfect regular season in 2011. The Bearkats return nine starters on each side of the ball and offensive tackles Mitchell Watanabe and Sam Spencer return off medical redshirts.
Kennesaw State at Kent State (Sept. 7)
Kennesaw State will have plenty of new personnel on offense, but stopping a triple option is always hard, and Kent State was porous against the run last season. The Owls' fifth-year program fell 24-20 to Georgia State in their first-ever FBS game last year.
Maine at Georgia Southern (Sept. 7)
Maine beat Western Kentucky last season and Georgia Southern suffered an FCS loss to a CAA Football team just two years ago (New Hampshire). The Black Bears have a physical defense, but they’ll need to counter the speed of Georgia Southern’s triple option offense.
Southern Illinois at Massachusetts (Sept. 7)
The Missouri Valley Football Conference has at least one FBS win in every season during the decade. The Salukis disappointed with a 2-9 record last year, but they return 16 starters and UMass is expected to be one of the worst FBS teams this season.
Furman at Georgia State (Sept. 7)
Furman running backs Devin Wynn, Corey Watkins and Darius Morehead must be salivating over the 6.6 yards per carry that Georgia State allowed in a 2-10 season last year. With other non-conference games against Virginia Tech (likely a loss) and Point (non-Division I), this may be a necessary win for Furman’s playoff resume.
Weber State at Nevada (Sept. 14)
Weber State will have played an FBS opponent (San Diego State) already when it takes on Nevada. The Wildcats feature the 2018 national freshman of the year, Jerry Rice Award-winning running back Josh Davis, and wide receiver/kicker return Rashid Shaheed is probably even more elusive to the opposition.
Nicholls at Texas State (Sept. 28)
Nicholls topped Kansas for a Power 5 win last year and Southland player of the year Chase Fourcade is back to run the Colonels’ offense. In the mix to be Texas State’s quarterback is a former FCS player, Gresch Jensen from Montana.
— 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.
(Photo courtesy of Furman Athletics)