The crowning FCS upset of an FBS program remains Appalachian State beating Michigan in 2007, but what gets overlooked is the Wolverines should have been better prepared considering their opponent was coming off two straight national titles.
The FBS too often gets caught napping against the lower tier of Division I college football, even schools in Power 5 conferences. Last year. Nicholls topped Kansas and Illinois State beat Colorado State as part of the seven FCS wins over FBS teams.
Where and when will it happen in 2019? Sound the upset alarm again, here are seven potential FCS upsets of Power 5 programs:
South Dakota State at Minnesota (Aug. 29)
The Jackrabbits kept it close before falling 16-13 in the last meeting in 2009. The key to an upset is quick production from the quarterback position (all-time Missouri Valley passing leader Taryn Christion is gone), but 15 starters return from back-to-back FCS semifinalist squads.
Montana State at Texas Tech (Aug. 31)
Texas Tech will be getting comfortable in new head coach Matt Wells' first game, so Montana State's veteran team (18 returning starters) has to take advantage of it. Running back Isaiah Ifanse and the Bobcats will seek to pound the run.
James Madison at West Virginia (Aug. 31)
This is not the same West Virginia team as earlier this decade and the Mountaineers have to rebuild their offense, including the loss of quarterback Will Grier, under new head coach Troy Brown. Curt Cignetti will be making his JMU coaching debut, and his team returns 12 of 14 all-conference selections plus get back key cornerback Rashad Robinson from injury.
Indiana State at Kansas (Aug. 31)
Kansas opened last season with a loss to Nicholls from the Southland Conference. Indiana State was the most improved team in the FCS last season — going from 0-11 in 2017 to 7-4 — and return standouts in quarterback Ryan Boyle and linebacker Jonas Griffith.
Eastern Kentucky at Louisville (Sept. 7)
Eastern Kentucky led Bowling Green in the fourth quarter last year. Fourth-year head coach Mark Elder returns 49 of the 61 players listed on the season-ending depth chart and former Oregon State quarterback Connor Blount has transferred into the program. The host Cardinals are coming off a stunning 2-10 season and have a new head coach in Scott Satterfield, formerly at Appalachian State.
North Carolina A&T at Duke (Sept. 7)
With 14 starters lost, NC A&T figures to take a step backward this season, but give credit where it’s due — the Aggies have beaten an FBS opponent in three straight seasons. To nab the Daniel Jones-less Blue Devils, key returnees including quarterback Kylil Carter, wide receiver Elijah Bell and cornerback Mac McCain have to stand out.
The Citadel at Georgia Tech (Sept. 14)
The Citadel will have its triple-option offense, now led by quarterback Brandon Rainey, but Georgia Tech is switching from the same attack under new head coach Geoff Collins. The last Southern Conference win over an FBS team belongs to The Citadel (23-21 over South Carolina in 2015).
— 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 Eastern Kentucky University Athletics)