Week 1 in college football brings us a gluttony of juicy match-ups between Football Bowl Subdivision teams and Football Championship Subdivision teams, or as I still say 1-A and 1-AA. Of the 125 FBS teams, 32 will play against FCS teams in week one.
After the success of some of the Davids vs. the Goliaths in the last few years, we wanted to highlight some of the FBS vs. FCS games that might be ripe for upset. They happen every year and would be perfect fodder for a mash-up.
We chose six intriguing match-ups to feature for this week’s mash-up. Let’s preview them.
(The college football mash-up takes multiple games and mashes them into one running box score. If you are not familiar with the mash-up concept, invented by No Coast Bias last season, check out the Big Ten Bowl Mash-up)
North Dakota State @ Kansas State
North Dakota State is the two-time defending FCS national champion and have gone 6-3 against the big boys since 2006. Two of the three losses were by a combined four points. They have won games against FBS opponents for three straight years (Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State), looking for number four.
Kansas State is without Colin Klein and nine of their defensive starters. The Wildcats do have a national champion arm in their holster as junior college transfer quarterback Jake Walters will start this year. Waters won a NJCAA national championship with Iowa Western Community College last season and hopes to revive a team that was one game away from playing for a title last season.
Though Kansas State is 5-0 against FCS teams since 2009, they struggled against UMass in 2009 and Eastern Kentucky in 2011, winning each by just three points.
Indiana State @ Indiana
There was a stretch from 2005-2009 where Indiana State went 2-53 in football, but things are looking up. They finished 7-4 last season and return seven of their offensive starters, but are ushering in a new head coach, and come into the season ranked in the FCS top 30.
Its strength on strength as the Indiana offense is the better of the sides. The Hoosiers threw for over 300 yards a game and scored over 30 points per game last year. Problem is that they allowed more than 35 per game. The Hoosiers won a close 24-17 game over Indiana State last year.
Northern Iowa @ Iowa State
Northern Iowa struggled with injuries and a brutal schedule that included two FBS teams and FCS champion, North Dakota State, to finish 5-6 last season. The Panthers are picked to anywhere from 17th to 10th in preseason polls and are projected to make the playoffs.
Iowa State, despite coach Paul Rhoads inspiration and leading the Cyclones to games they shouldn’t win (2011 vs. Oklahoma State), have yet to manage a winning regular season since 2005. They did go 6-6 in three of the last four seasons. However they have beaten an FCS team each year since 2007 when they lost to … Northern Iowa.
Villanova @ Boston College
Boston College was a mess last year and even appeared on the Sad Seven a couple times. The Eagles finished the year 2-10 with one of those wins coming against FCS Maine. They averaged less than 20 points a game and were near the bottom in rushing with just 90 yards a game.
Villanova didn’t light the FCS world up last season, but their 8-4 record was a big step up from 2011’s 2-9 season. Nova is ranked as high as 5th in the FCS preseason polls, returns 17 starters and a freshman quarterback who was a hail Mary away from a 1,000-rushing 2,000 passing season.
Eastern Washington @ Oregon State
So this is how we are going to kick off west coast football huh? Every year it seems we talk about this being Oregon State’s year and every year they do something silly like lose to Washington. Again this year, the pundits have put the Beavers in the top 25, despite a quarterback competition that was just recently decided.
Eastern Washington is fresh off an 11-3 season which included a win over FBS Idaho and three losses by four points or less. The 2010 FCS champs are ranked 4th in the preseason and quarterback Vernon Adams, last season’s freshman of the year, looks to prove they are no David.
Towson @ UConn
Towson is coming off their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1999-2000 after going 1-10 in 2010. The Tigers expect to have eight returning starters on offense and seven returning starters on defense and are ranked between ninth and 11th in most FCS polls.
Connecticut ranked 121st in both rushing offense and points per game last year, scoring less than 18 per contest. Still they went 5-7 (which seems to be a running theme for them) thanks to a stingy defense that allowed less than 20 per game. They have lots of returning starters, but are those starters any good?
Tale of the tape
The FBS boys are favored by a combined 105.5 based on the consensus odds from ESPN.com. If I were to pick a side in this mash-up, I would take David and the points.
Check back with us next week to see how the this mash-up of FBS vs. FCS turned out.