April 13, 2011

The worst FCS vs. Big Six games of 2011

Monday, we took a broad look at the 2011 college football schedules. Tuesday, we listed the 12 best non-conference games of the season. Today, we're spotlighting the 12 most embarrassing games of the season involving Big Six league teams and FCS programs.

A couple of things:

We do not care about the back-story of how and why some of these games came about. We know that some of the Big Six teams involved do have some good non-conference games. We're aware that some of these games were scheduled at the (relatively) last minute. But that in no way absolves anyone of blame. Bottom line: These games are pitiful, and the Big Six team involved should be embarrassed.

We are not being derisive of or impugning FCS football. We're not averse to FBS/FCS games per se. What we don't like are Big Six teams -- especially the ones with clout -- scheduling games against bad FCS teams.

"Bad" is the operative word. For the most part, Big Six teams don't want anything to do with top-level FCS programs, but there are some exceptions, among them Montana State at Utah on Sept. 1; Richmond at Duke, Eastern Washington at Washington, Appalachian State at Virginia Tech, McNeese State at Kansas and Montana at Tennessee on Sept. 3; Wofford at Clemson on Sept. 10; North Dakota State at Minnesota on Sept. 24; and Jacksonville State at Kentucky on Oct. 22.

Unfortunately, there are far more bad FBS-FCS games to choose from. Here are the 12 most embarrassing games this season involving Big Six schools and FCS programs:

12 MOST EMBARRASSING FCS VS. BIG SIX GAMES OF 2011

12. Western Carolina at Georgia Tech
When: Sept. 1 Western Carolina was 2-9 last season and has had just three winning records since 1994. In the past five seasons, the Catamounts have won a combined 10 games; Western has played six games against FBS foes in that span and has been outscored 321-29.

11. The Citadel at South Carolina
When: Nov. 19
The buzz: The Citadel was 3-8 last season, its 15th losing record in the past 18 seasons. The Bulldogs are 0-16 against FBS opponents since the beginning of the 2000 season and have been outscored 691-155 (average score: 43-9) in those games.

10. Portland State at TCU
When: Sept. 24
The buzz: We're cheating here, as TCU won't officially be a Big Six school until next season, when it joins the Big East. But this is an egregiously bad matchup. Portland State won two games last season and has won a combined 11 in the past four seasons. In its past seven games against FBS opponents, Portland State has been outscored 354-70.

9. Towson at Maryland
When: Oct. 1
The buzz: Towson was 1-10 last season and has won nine games in the past four seasons. Maryland will be just the fourth FBS foe for the Tigers in school history. They've lost the first three by a combined 139-44.

8. Tennessee Tech at Iowa
When: Sept. 3
The buzz: Tennessee Tech -- which is coached by Watson Brown -- was 5-6 last season and has had a losing record in nine of the past 13 seasons. The Golden Eagles have played eight games against FBS opponents in the past five seasons; they have allowed 364 points and scored just 37 in those "contests."

7. Charleston Southern at Florida State
When: Sept. 10
The buzz: Charleston Southern began playing football in 1991 and has had four winning records in its history. The Bucs, who were 3-8 last season, have played nine games against FBS opponents in their history; they have been outscored 503-88 (average score: 56-10) in those nine.

6. Rhode Island at Syracuse
When: Sept. 10
The buzz: The Colonial Athletic Association could be considered the SEC of the FCS ranks; in that case, Rhode Island is the CAA's Vanderbilt. The Rams were 5-6 last season -- and that's a good record for them; they have finished with a losing record in 14 of the past 15 seasons and 22 of the past 25. The five wins last season was the second-highest total for URI since 1996.

5. North Carolina Central at Rutgers
When: Sept. 1
The buzz: NC Central still is transitioning from Division II into FCS and is coming off a 3-8 season. This is just the second FBS game for Central in its history; its first was a 35-point loss to Duke in 2009. Nothing like opening the season on a Thursday night against a horrible opponent to fire up the fan base.

4. Austin Peay at Cincinnati
When: Sept. 1
The buzz: Austin Peay was 2-9 last season and has had just five winning records since 1980; just two of those have come since 1985. This is Austin Peay's fourth FBS opponent since 2002; the Governors have been outscored 167-39 (average score: 56-13) in the other three.

3. Idaho State at Washington State
When: Sept. 3
The buzz: Idaho State has had three consecutive one-win seasons and has had just five winning records in the past 27 seasons. The Bengals have played 13 FBS opponents since 2000 and lost by an average of 32.4 points.

2. Indiana State at Penn State
When: Sept. 3
The buzz: Indiana State is coming off a 6-5 record. For the Sycamores, that is reason to celebrate wildly. They had won a total of two games in the previous five seasons, and 2010's winning record snapped a streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons. In its past seven games against FBS opponents, the Sycamores have allowed an average of 50.3 points per contest.

1. Presbyterian at California
When: Sept. 17
The buzz: Does Cal really need to import a team from Clinton, S.C. -- 2,300 miles away -- to get a victory? Presbyterian was 2-9 last season and has won six games in the past three seasons as it transitions from Division II to the FCS ranks. The Blue Hose played two FBS teams last season and lost by a combined 111-34. This will be the first time the Blue Hose have played west of Greeneville, Tenn., in a regular-season game and just the third time in school history they have played west of the Mississippi River (the other two were NAIA playoff games).

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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