FCS vs. FBS schedule: Notable matchups and potential upsets

·12 min read

(Stats Perform) - The datelines include Tuscaloosa, Athens, Death Valley and College Station, but in the 2022 college football season, FCS college football teams want to rename various FBS locales as Upset City.

There are 117 matchups scheduled between the two levels of Division I programs, involving 95 of the 130 FCS programs and 13 of the 15 conferences (all but the Ivy and Pioneer leagues).

FCS football teams combined on 12 wins over FBS opposition last season, the most since there were 16 in 2013 and tied for the second-most in the last 21 seasons.

Below is a conference-by-conference look at the FCS vs. FBS games this season:

ASUN (Participating in ASUN-WAC Challenge)

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (8) - Austin Peay: Western Kentucky (Aug. 27) and Alabama (Nov. 19); Central Arkansas: Ole Miss (Sept. 10); Eastern Kentucky: Eastern Michigan (Sept. 2) and Bowling Green (Sept. 10); Jacksonville State: Tulsa (Sept. 17); Kennesaw State: Cincinnati (Sept. 10); North Alabama: Memphis (Nov. 19)

Marquee Opponent - Kennesaw State raises the level of FBS opponent with a College Football Playoff qualifier in Cincinnati, but it's hard to top Austin Peay's first-ever appearance at Bryant-Denny Stadium against the Crimson Tide, who, oh yes, beat Cincy in the CFP semifinals.

Upset to Watch For - If Eastern Kentucky's veteran lineup doesn't topple Eastern Michigan, it surely has an even easier matchup in the MAC at Bowling Green (4-8). And, yes, the Colonels' last FBS win was inside the MAC at Miami of Ohio in 2014.

Notable - Entering its final FCS season, Jacksonville State seeks a win over the FBS in a third straight season, having defeated FIU in 2020 and Florida State last year.

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Big Sky

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (15) - Cal Poly: Fresno State (Sept. 1); Eastern Washington: Oregon (Sept. 10) and Florida (Oct. 1); Idaho: Washington State (Sept. 3) and Indiana (Sept. 10); Idaho State: UNLV (Sept. 3) and San Diego State (Sept. 10); Montana State: Oregon State (Sept. 17); Northern Arizona: Arizona State (Sept. 1); Northern Colorado: Wyoming (Sept. 10); Portland State: San Jose State (Sept. 3) and Washington (Sept. 10); Sacramento State: Colorado State (Sept. 24); UC Davis: California (Sept. 3); Weber State: Utah State (Sept. 10)

Marquee Opponents - OK, let's go two instead of one considering Eastern Washington is facing multiple FBS schools in the same season, Oregon and Florida, for only the third time (also 2006 and '08). While the Eagles have never faced an SEC opponent previously, Super Bowl LVI MVP Cooper Kupp put on a show (15 receptions for 246 yards and three touchdowns) in their one previous meeting against Oregon, a 61-42 loss in 2015.

Upset to Watch For - Sac State's most recent FBS win was at Colorado in 2012, and now coach Troy Taylor's defending Big Sky champion will be visit Fort Collins to face a floundering Colorado State program (3-9 last season) that has suffered three FCS losses in the last 10 years.

Notable - The Big Sky posted four FBS wins last season for the first time since 2012. That's the most by an FCS conference since the Missouri Valley Football Conference had four in 2016.

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Big South

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (9) - Bryant: FIU (Sept. 1); Campbell: East Carolina (Sept. 17); Charleston Southern: North Carolina State (Sept. 10); Gardner-Webb: Coastal Carolina (Sept. 10), Marshall (Oct. 1) and Liberty (Oct. 15); North Carolina A&T: Duke (Sept. 17); Robert Morris: Miami-Ohio (Sept. 10) and Appalachian State (Oct. 29)

Marquee Opponent - N.C. State went 9-3 last season and could be even better this year, so Charleston Southern's winless record against FBS opposition (0-25) will likely continue.

Upsets to Watch For - Out of the six Big South programs, only Gardner-Webb and N.C. A&T have posted FBS wins in their history, but Bryant has a chance to debut in the conference with a win at FIU, and Campbell takes aim on East Carolina, having only lost by one point at Georgia Southern behind quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams in 2020.

Notable - Gardner-Webb is the only FCS team with three FBS opponents this season, and two are former Big South foes, Coastal Carolina and Liberty. The Runnin' Bulldogs lost their only meeting with Marshall in 2013.

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CAA Football

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (12) - Albany: Baylor (Sept. 3); Delaware: Navy (Sept. 3); Elon: Vanderbilt (Sept. 3); Maine: New Mexico (Sept. 3) and Boston College (Sept. 17); New Hampshire: Western Michigan (Oct. 1); Rhode Island: Pittsburgh (Sept. 24); Richmond: Virginia (Sept. 3); Stony Brook: UMass (Sept. 17); Towson: West Virginia (Sept. 17); Villanova: Army (Sept. 17); William & Mary: Charlotte (Sept. 1)

Marquee Opponent - Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi was a linebacker at Rhode Island from 1987-89 and assistant coach from 1993-99. The visiting Rams don't have to face quarterback Kenny Pickett, who was a first-round NFL Draft pick in late April, but former USC signal caller Kedon Slovis could prove challenging.

Upset to Watch For - Delaware, Maine, Stony Brook and William & Mary seem to have winnable matchups, but how about Villanova, the defending CAA champ, at Army? The Wildcats should be prepared for Army's triple option offense, having finished in the top 25 of FCS rushing defense in each of the past five full seasons (not 2020).

Notable - Delaware's Ryan Carty makes his head coaching debut at his alma mater against a Navy program the Blue Hens have defeated six times since the Division I split, most recently in a 59-52 shootout in 2007

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MEAC

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (5) - Howard: South Florida (Sept. 10); Morgan State: Georgia Southern (Sept. 3); Norfolk State: Marshall (Sept. 3) and James Madison (Sept. 10); South Carolina State: UCF (Sept. 1)

Marquee Opponent - It's a season-opening matchup of teams coming off impressive bowl wins - South Carolina State over Jackson State in the 2021 Celebration Bowl and UCF over Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl.

Upset to Watch For - Although MEAC teams can point toward Howard posting a record upset over UNLV in 2017 as a 45 1/2-point underdog, this doesn't feel like a season that's ripe for any MEAC wins.

Notable - Morgan State's interim coach William Carr debuts at Georgia Southern, which has a new coach in former USC mentor Clay Helton.

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Missouri Valley

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (11) - Illinois State: Wisconsin (Sept. 3); Indiana State: Purdue (Sept. 10); Missouri State: Arkansas (Sept. 17); North Dakota: Nebraska (Sept. 3); North Dakota State: Arizona (Sept. 17); Northern Iowa: Air Force (Sept. 3); South Dakota: Kansas State (Sept. 3); South Dakota State: Iowa (Sept. 3); Southern Illinois: Northwestern (Sept. 17); Western Illinois: Minnesota (Sept. 10); Youngstown State: Kentucky (Sept. 17)

Marquee Opponent - South Dakota State, which beat Colorado State to open last season, is set to kick off a possible national championship-winning season by matching its offensive line and running game against Iowa's strong defensive line.

Upset to Watch For - Granted, you can't call this one an upset if North Dakota State is favored over Arizona, but it's the best bet for an FCS win over the FBS. The Bison, the defending FCS champions, will face an FBS opponent for the first time since 2016, holding a six-game winning streak and a 9-3 overall record against the upper tier of Division I.

Notable - At least one MVFC team has posted an FBS win in every full season (not 2020) since 2010.

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Northeast

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (8) - Central Connecticut State: UConn (Sept. 3); Duquesne: Florida State (Aug. 27) and Hawaii (Sept. 17); LIU: Toledo (Sept. 1) and Kent State (Sept. 17); Saint Francis: Akron (Sept. 1); Wagner: Rutgers (Sept. 10) and Syracuse (Oct. 1)

Marquee Opponent - Duquesne's win at Ohio U. last season marked the first FBS win by an NEC program. This season, a Week 0 trip to Florida State provides the biggest spotlight, and the Dukes also have an always coveted trip to Hawaii.

Upsets to Watch For - OK, take your pick from two NEC teams seeking initial FBS wins against struggling FBS programs with a new, higher-profile coach - Saint Francis at Akron (Joe Moorhead) or Central Connecticut State at UConn (Jim Mora Jr.).

Notable - Wagner, which enters the season on an FCS-worst 20-game losing streak, has faced nearly as many FBS opponents all-time (13) as other NEC programs combined (16).

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Ohio Valley

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (8) - Eastern Illinois: Northern Illinois (Sept. 3); Murray State: Texas Tech (Sept. 3) and Ball State (Sept. 17); Southeast Missouri: Iowa State (Sept. 3); Tennessee State: Middle Tennessee (Sept. 17); Tennessee Tech: Kansas (Sept. 2); UT Martin: Boise State (Sept. 17) and Tennessee (Oct. 22)

Marquee Opponents - From blue turf to a stadium full of orange, defending OVC champion UT Martin has games to watch with Boise State and Tennessee. The Skyhawks lost one previous meeting with each program.

Upset to Watch For - While Murray State surely won't spoil Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire's debut, the Racers could impress their future Missouri Valley brethren (2023 season) with a win at Ball State. At least one OVC team has an FBS win in seven of the last 11 seasons.

Notable - Tennessee State and Middle Tennessee, who are former OVC rivals, are playing the Battle of I-24 for the only the second time since 1988. TSU trails 11-9 in the all-time series.

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Patriot League

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (6) - Bucknell: Central Michigan (Sept. 17); Colgate: Stanford (Sept. 3) and Army (Oct. 15); Fordham: Ohio (Sept. 24); Holy Cross: Buffalo (Sept. 10); Lafayette: Temple (Sept. 10)

Marquee Opponent - A trip to West Point is a big enough treat, but Colgate is playing two FBS opponents for the first time in 25 years, and the second game is a first-ever matchup with Stanford.

Upset to Watch For - Holy Cross opened last season with an FBS win at UConn. The three-time defending Patriot League champion should be an even stronger team this season, and Buffalo went 4-8 in coach Maurice Linguist's first campaign last year.

Notable - Technically, Bucknell owns an FBS win against Colgate. Bucknell played in the first FCS season in 1978 and posted a 7-0 win over Colgate, which was still a Division I-A (now FBS) independent.

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Southern

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (9) - Chattanooga: Illinois (Sept. 22); ETSU: Mississippi State (Nov. 19); Furman: Clemson (Sept. 10); Mercer: Auburn (Sept. 3); Samford: Georgia (Sept. 10); The Citadel: Appalachian State (Oct. 1); VMI: Wake Forest (Sept. 1); Western Carolina: Georgia Tech (Sept. 10); Wofford: Virginia Tech (Sept. 17)

Marquee Opponent - Take your pick with the SoCon's FBS opponents, but the choice is Samford going between the hedges at Georgia. It will mean an FCS program will play the reigning FBS champion in a 12th season over a 14-year span.

Upset to Watch For - The nucleus of Chattanooga's team has suffered three- and five-point losses to FBS opponents in the last two years. The Mocs will seek to get over the hurdle against an Illinois program that last had a winning season in 2011.

Notable - VMI (38 games) and Western Carolina (61) are trying to end long losing streaks against FBS opponents. VMI last played Wake Forest in 1944, when the Demon Deacons were SoCon members.

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Southland

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (7) - Houston Baptist: Texas State (Sept. 24); McNeese: Rice (Sept. 10); Nicholls: South Alabama (Sept. 3) and ULM (Sept. 10); Northwestern State: Southern Miss (Sept. 17); Southeastern Louisiana: Louisiana (Sept. 3) and Florida Atlantic (Sept. 10)

Marquee Opponent - Southland teams are facing a handful of lower-ranked FBS opponents, but Southeastern Louisiana's opening opponent, Louisiana, is not one, having gone 34-5 with three bowl wins since 2019.

Upsets to Watch For - Nicholls coach Tim Rebowe led the Colonels past Kansas in their 2018 season opener, and this season, they kick off with winnable games against South Alabama and ULM. Collin Guggenheim and Julien Gums will play tag-team at running back.

Notable - Houston Baptist's young program is 0-9 against FBS opposition, including a pair of two-points losses - UTEP in 2019 and Texas Tech in 2020. Also, McNeese's opener at FCS national runner-up Montana State may be a tougher assignment than new coach Garry Goff's second game - the Cowboys' first-ever matchup at Rice.

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SWAC

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (10) - Alabama A&M: UAB (Sept. 1) and Troy (Sept. 10); Alabama State: UCLA (Sept. 10); Alcorn State: Tulane (Sept. 10); Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Oklahoma State (Sept. 17); Bethune-Cookman: Miami-Florida (Sept. 3); Florida A&M: North Carolina (Aug. 27); Grambling State: Arkansas State (Sept. 3); Southern: LSU (Sept. 10); Texas Southern: UTSA (Sept. 24)

Marquee Opponent - Alabama State is Rose Bowl-bound. UCLA isn't just facing an HBCU for the first time, the Bruins are playing their first-ever FCS opponent.

Upset to Watch For - As Alcorn State seeks to lift a 6-5 record that was its worst since 2016, coach Fred McNair & Co. will try to catch Tulane at the right time. The Green Wave went 2-10 last season.

Notable - While SWAC teams rarely lack in high-profile FBS opponents, their conference doesn't have an FBS win since coach Eddie Robinson led Grambling State past Oregon State 23-6 on Sept. 28, 1985 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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WAC (Participating in ASUN-WAC Challenge)

2022 FCS vs. FBS Matchups (9) - Abilene Christian: Missouri (Sept. 17); Dixie State (to become Utah Tech on July 1): BYU (Nov. 19); Lamar: SMU (Sept. 10) and New Mexico State (Nov. 12); Sam Houston: Texas A&M (Sept. 3); Southern Utah: Utah (Sept. 10); Stephen F. Austin: Louisiana Tech (Sept. 10); Tarleton: TCU (Sept. 10); UIW: Nevada (Sept. 10)

Marquee Opponent - No doubt Nick Saban is pulling for Sam Houston to upset Texas A&M. The 2020 FCS champion Bearkats (playoffs held in spring 2021) have only played three FBS opponents in coach K.C. Keeler's eight seasons, with the program's most recent win occurring under Willie Fritz in 2011 (New Mexico).

Upset to Watch For - Louisiana Tech had to hold on against Southeastern Louisiana (45-42) last season and may not have enough defense to deny Stephen F. Austin quarterback Trae Self and wide receiver Xavier Gipson.

Notable - Tarleton, a third-year Division I member, won its only FBS game to date, throttling New Mexico State 43-17 on Feb. 21, 2021. One week later, Dixie State defeated Tarleton, and two weeks later, it was tied with New Mexico State in the final minute before falling 36-29.