The visiting teams are looking for more than a paycheck
Across the landscape of Division I college football, FCS schools resemble the Group of 5 programs much more than those from the Power 5 conferences which are trying to pull away from everybody else.
But on any given Saturday, the FCS can jolt the Power 5 with some upsets. Last year, then-FCS program Liberty knocked off Baylor, and two years ago five FCS teams beat Power 5 opponents.
Sound the upset alert, here are five potential FCS upsets of Power Five programs in 2018:
James Madison at NC State (Sept. 1)
An experienced NC State squad has Top 25 potential this season, but FCS power James Madison is 28-2 over the last two seasons, including a 34-14, season-opening win over East Carolina a year ago. Head coach Mike Houston has to reload the defense to match the Wolfpack's offensive firepower.
Nicholls at Kansas (Sept. 1)
Nicholls returns 16 starters from its first playoff season since 2005. In the last two years, the Southland Conference team has lost by two points to Georgia, one to South Alabama and 10 to Texas A&M.
South Dakota State at Iowa State (Sept. 1)
Although Iowa State is on the rise, it has lost to an FCS opponent in three of the last five seasons. The Jackrabbits from the highly successful Missouri Valley Football Conference will be more run-oriented this season following the loss of tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Jake Wieneke.
Eastern Washington at Washington State (Sept. 15)
EWU senior quarterback Gage Gubrud will be hard-pressed to top his first career start in 2016. He accounted for a then-school-record 551 yards of total offense and six touchdowns to fuel the Big Sky power past Washington State, 45-42.
Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (Sept. 29)
Separated by only four miles in Nashville, these two schools are meeting for only the third time (Vanderbilt won in 2006 and '16). The visiting Tigers beat Georgia State last season and hope the Commodores will get caught looking ahead to Georgia the following week.
The Citadel at Alabama (Nov. 17)
Just making sure you're paying attention.
-- 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 James Madison University Athletics)