After Michigan fell to Appalachian State, every fan of a major college football team has suddenly become wary of teams from the Division I Championship Subdivision. With so many programs scheduling what is supposed to be a guaranteed win, the odds are in favor of at least a few upsets. But come on, The App State win was the aberration to end all aberrations. They were the two time defending FCS champions, and Michigan’s slow starts under Lloyd Carr have been legendary.
More importantly, every FBS team now expects a serious challenge from their FCS foes. Programs vow in 2008 not to be the next Michigan. Nothing will catch them by surprise anymore. Let’s face it, the window of opportunity has closed. Such an upset can’t possibly happen again, right?
The killer bunny is out of the cave, and he’s taking no prisoners. Here are the FCS teams most likely to win against their FBS “victims” in college football’s opening weeks.
New Hampshire (@Army, 9/6): Unfortunately, the Black Knights are not very good. On the other hand, the Wildcats have a history of scheduling, and beating, their FBS opponents:
2004 vs. Rutgers: W 35-24
2006 vs. Northwestern: W 34-17
2007 vs. Marshall: W 48-35
This could very well be another notch on their FBS belt.
Richmond (@Virginia, 8/30): The Clawfense may be off to Tennessee, but the Spiders are still among the top teams in FCS. The Cavs, who won 9 games by the skin of their teeth in 2007, returns a very depleted squad in 2008. an upset here is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Southern Illinois (@ Northwestern, 9/13): While the Wildcats are much better now than they were 25 years ago, it’s diffcult to see them going beyond the middle of the Big Ten this year. Southern Illinois have been in the FCS top 20 for 54 consecutive weeks, and have won their last two games against FBS opponents (Indiana and Northern Illinois). The main problem is that this game will be in week three, when teams are already warmed up. This significantly reduces a FCS team’s chances of an upset.
James Madison (@Duke, 8/30): James Madison is among the favorites to win the FCS title and Duke is, well, Duke. The Blue Devils should be better this year, but still.
Jacksonville State (@ Georgia Tech, 8/28): There are many reasons why Georgia Tech could lose this one. This is their first game under a new head coach, they’re running a completely new triple option offense, and top defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is gone.
But there is one big reason why Jacksonville State can win. And that reason in the Sixty Million Dollar Man, Ryan Perrilloux. After Perriloux was dismissed from LSU in the offseason (let’s just say for hubris-related activities), he was allowed to play for another team immediately. the Georgia Tech game will be the only time this season that Perriloux will be given the chance to showcase his talent against an FCS opponent. You can bet that he will take advantage of it.
McNeese State (@UNC, 8/30): I hate to use my alma mater as an example here, but McNeese State could pull an upset here. The Cowboys are #11 in the preseason FCS rankings. THey finished the regular season undefeated before bowing out in the playoffs. They return a highly efficient, dual threat, spread offense quarterback in Derrick Fourroux. Matt Viator is one of the best coaches in FCS right now, and could make the leap into FBS in the very near future. And as much as I hate to admit it, my team (the Heels) is still a bit of an enigma. Odds are that the upset won’t happen, but it’s going to be a closer game than people think.
William & Mary (@ NC State, 9/6): In deference to the team that gave him his first station wagon and head coaching job, Lou Holtz will find a way to sabotage the Wolfpack in this game.
Appalachian State (@LSU, 8/30): Could lightning strike twice? Probably not. But wouldn’t it be fun?
Most Potentially Devastating FCS Upset of 2008
Northern Iowa (@BYU, 8/30): The Cougars are, for all intents and purposes, the team responsible for carrying the mid-major flame this year, as the only non-BCS conference team in the top 20. Not unlike Michigan last year, a lot of pressure is on the Cougars to go undefeated this season. A tough season lies ahead for BYU in perhaps the toughest non-BCS conference this season, with four Mountain West opponents who could conceivably derail their season.
The Cougars have big expectaions and big pressure this year. It’s not difficult for such a team to ignore the Panthers of Northern Iowa. But UNI, like Appalachian State, is one of the powerhouses of the FCS. The Panthers finished 5th in the final FCS poll of 2007, reached the 2005 Championship game and played in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs in each of their six appearances since 1995. While their 24-13 win over Iowa State last year might not be too impressive, remember that App State lost 23-10 to NC State the year before their big upset.