April 15, 2009

Upcoming season features some mismatches

RELATED: Non-conference slates continue to weaken

Tuesday, we took a broad look at the schedules for the Football Bowl Subdivision (i.e. Division I-A) conferences. Today we're getting more specific, with a list of the 12 most embarrassing games of the season involving "Big Six" league teams and Football Championship Subdivision (i.e., Division I-AA) programs. Thursday, we'll look at the 12 best non-conference games of the season.

A couple of things:

1. We do not care about the back story of how and why some of these games came about. We're fully aware that some of these games were scheduled at the (relatively) last minute. But that in no way overrides the blatant well, awfulness of these games. Even hardcore fans have to look at these games and gag.

2. 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. (Ten of the 12 "Big Six" programs we're picking on went to bowls last season.)

"Bad" is the operative word. Of the games mentioned below, only one involves a FCS team that had a winning record last season, and none of the games selected involve top-level FCS programs. 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 Duke vs. Richmond, Maryland vs. James Madison, USF and Wisconsin vs. Wofford, Indiana and Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky and Syracuse vs. Maine.

Of note is that Richmond beat Montana in the FCS championship game last season; Richmond has one FBS opponent (Duke) this fall, while Montana has none. Appalachian State, which owns perhaps the most famous victory ever by an FCS team (over Michigan in 2007), also has one game against an FBS opponent (East Carolina) this fall. If Appalachian State, Montana or Richmond were to replace any FCS school on this list, you can be certain the game would not be mentioned. But for some reason, none of the FBS big boys wanted to play any of that trio.

Thus, without further ado, here are the 12 most embarrassing games this season involving "Big Six" schools and FCS programs:

12. Northeastern at Boston College, Sept. 5: Northeastern was 2-10 last season and has won a combined 12 games in the past four seasons; BC has played for the past two ACC titles. At least BC is keeping the money circulating in the local economy, as Northeastern's campus is about five miles from BC's.

11. Rhode Island at Connecticut, Sept. 26: The Colonial Athletic Association may be the best FCS league, but Rhode Island is one of the CAA's worst programs. The Rams were 3-9 last season, and they have finished with a losing record in 12 of the past 13 seasons and 20 of the past 23.

10. Southeast Missouri State at Cincinnati: Southeast Missouri has had six consecutive losing seasons and has finished with a losing record in 13 of the past 14 seasons. A team coming off a Big East title and a BCS appearance shouldn't be playing SEMO.

A look at the power leagues and how many FCS and "Big Six" opponents each has played in the past three regular seasons:
FCS opponents
Big East97723
Big Ten99826
Big 12910827
"Big Six" opponents
Big East16161547
Big Ten14131340
Big 1211151137
9. Howard at Rutgers, Sept. 12: Howard was 1-10 last season and has had two winning records in the past 10 seasons. These teams met in 2006, with Rutgers winning by 49. The only other time Howard has played an FBS team was in 2003, when it lost by 58 to Akron.

8. Murray State at N.C. State, Sept. 12, and Gardner-Webb at N.C. State, Sept. 19: Man, nothing like back-to-back home games against FCS programs to rally the fans. And back-to-back games against FCS programs that each won five games last season, at that. NC State is one of six FBS teams playing two FCS foes, but the only one playing them in back-to-back weeks.

7. Charleston Southern at Florida, Sept. 5: Charleston Southern actually is quasi-decent 7-5 last season but there's no way a defending national champion should be playing this game. Charleston Southern has played three FBS teams in its history, and has lost the three games by a combined 112 points.

6. Tennessee Tech at Georgia, Nov. 7: Tennessee Tech was 3-9 last season and has had a losing record in eight of the past 11 seasons. For Georgia, this matchup comes the week after Florida and the week before Auburn. The Bulldogs may as well play an intrasquad scrimmage for all the good this one will do for them.

5. Idaho State at Arizona State, Sept. 5: Idaho State was 1-11 last season and has had just five winning seasons in the past 20. The Bengals have played nine FBS opponents this decade and lost by an average of 27 points.

4. Northern Colorado at Kansas, Sept. 5: Northern Colorado has had three consecutive one-win seasons. Needless to say, Kansas' season should get off to a rousing start.

3. Indiana State at Louisville, Sept. 5: Northern Colorado has won three games in the past three seasons? Heck, Indiana State wishes it were that good. Indiana State has had three winless seasons in the past four years and has won one game total in that span. The Sycamores have given up an average of 56 points in their past five games against FBS opponents. There's no excuse for any FBS school to play Indiana State.

2. Idaho State at Oklahoma, Sept. 12: We talked about Idaho State a few games ago. Why does this game rank higher or lower than the other? Simple. Oklahoma played for the national title last season and will be in the preseason top 10 this season. If the Sooners feel the need to play a FCS opponent, play one with a pulse.

1. Chattanooga at Alabama, Nov. 21: Chattanooga is awful awful. Chattanooga was 1-11 last season and has won a combined six games in the past three seasons. The Mocs have lost 21 in a row to FBS foes. There were two such losses last season, by a combined 94 points. In those 21 games, they have lost by an average of 35 points, and just one was decided by fewer than 14 points. Plus, this is the final home game of the season for the Tide, which is a real nice way to send out your seniors.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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