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New Goliaths: FCS Teams That Could Upset FBS Programs

I’m going to present you with three numbers really quickly.

9, 400,000, and 113.

Nine is the number of times Football Championship Sub-Division programs upset Football Bowl Sub-Division teams in 2015.

400,000 is the amount of dollars the Appalachian State Mountaineers received from theMichigan Wolverines for the biggest upset in college football history on the season opener nine years ago today. (Know that is a sore spot for Michigan fans, but hey, it happened)

113 is the number of times FCS programs play FBS schools this upcoming season. While the vast majority of these games will be blow outs that justify the money the FBS schools are paying for home wins, a fraction could be close, and a fraction of those will be wins for the FCS.

So which in which of those games can the upset be real? I’d love to say I could make a list of 10 of these games, but that is a stretch considering nine games won was a solid outing by the FCS. So my settled number is five.

FBS Team with The Most Upset Potential: North Carolina Tarheels

The Citadel  shocked the South Carolina Gamecocks last season in mid-November, which is especially shocking considering all other FCS wins last season came before Columbus Day. The Tarheels play the Citadel once again, while playing additional FCS school James Madison University on September 17. JMU and the Citadel hold three commonalities: finishes in the Top 15 in the FCS, wins last year versus the FBS (James Madison’s came against Southern Methodist on a last minute Hail Mary), and coach Mike Houston, who was at The Citadel last season to beat South Carolina, and is now the new head coach of James Madison. With powerhouse FCS programs on the schedule, UNC could fall victim to the FCS upset two years in a row if they aren’t careful.

SD_Jackrabbits_logo5) South Dakota State Jackrabbits

The Jackrabbits are the 14th ranked FCS team in the nation, while their opponent the TCU Horned Frogs lost a lot of seniors, including quarterbackTrevone Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson. Passing or lack thereof could dictate this upset, since the Jackrabbits threw for more yards than Kansas last season when the Jayhawks lost at home to South Dakota State.

lamarBanner4) Lamar Cardinals

While the Cardinals weren’t even a playoff team in the FCS’s 24 team playoff last season – to proponents of the CFP expansion, imagine Temple having a serious chance at the championship last season – they did have a 2,000 yard rusher in Kade Harrington. Houston had a stout rushing defense last season, but if caught off guard in the second week of their season, the Cougars could end up watching Harrington run away with an upset for Lamar.

Spiders logo3) Richmond Spiders

Richmond reached the Final Four of the FCS playoffs and was promptly escorted out by FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. But the Spiders had a great season last year, upsetting Lee Corso and JMU’s celebration at ESPN’s College Gameday and finishing in a three way tie for the Colonial Athletic Conference title. An hour west in Charolettesville, the Virginia Cavaliers suffered through yet another sub .500 season, ousted coach Mike London – technically he resigned, but it’s probably best to call it a mutual parting – and brought in BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall after finishing second to last in the Coastal Division. While Richmond has had little success when heading to Scott Stadium recently, Richmond has more potential to upset this go around than ever before.

download2) North Dakota State Bison

Five time FCS champion. Producer of the NFL’s number two overall pick,Carson Wentz. Winner of five straight games against FBS opponents. Seriously guys – speaking to the FBS teams here – how do you continually pay NDSU to beat up on you all the time? This year they play the Iowa Hawkeyes, a formidable FBS opponent, which will make it  interesting to see if last year’s Rose Bowl runner-up is slayed by the Bison like so many FBS teams. And it is for this reason of a tougher opponent that NDSU doesn’t claim my one spot. So who does?

EKU-Logo-11) Eastern Kentucky Colonels

They took NC State to the brink in an overtime matchup last season. The Purdue Boilermakers posted a 2-10 record last season, putting Purdue among the bottom of a top heavy Big Ten conference. Purdue seems like the most probable upset among the FCS-FBS matchups based on the fact Purdue has never lost to an FCS opponent, which now is like saying a kicker hasn’t missed a field goal all year, which is then proceeded by a shank to the left. The Colonels can do this year what they almost did to NC State last year.


Shawn  Valdrighi

Spark Sports Editor

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