Monday, September 13, 2010

What's up with all these FCS upsets?

It's commonplace for Football Bowl Subdivision (aka Division I-A) teams to open their seasons against second-tier Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) teams. Most of the time, these games are little more than scrimmages that result in big wins for the FBS programs.

But that's not always the case; sometimes the team from the lesser subdivision upends the team from the greater subdivision. Such was the case for the greatest upset in football history three seasons ago: Appalachian State's amazing 36-34 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor.

This season, FCS upsets of FBS teams have occurred with remarkable frequency. The first weekend of the season, we saw Jacksonville (Alabama, not Florida) State upset Ole Miss 49-38 in double overtime, while North Dakota State knocked off Kansas 6-3.

Then, this past Saturday, we had the big whopper: James Madison's 21-16 upending of 13th-ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Meanwhile, South Dakota knocked off Minnesota, 41-38. And for good measure, Gardner-Webb took down Akron, 38-37 in overtime, while Liberty beat Ball State, 27-23.

One or two upsets might be expected in a regular season. This year, we've had six. And four of the upset schools - Kansas, Minnesota, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss - are members of BCS-AQ conferences. Given the disparity in revenue, recruiting and scholarships awarded between these schools and their FCS opponents, you wouldn't expect these types of upsets to occur at all.

Yet they do.

That right there is why college football is such a wonderful sport, and why attempts to tinker with it by creating an elite "superconference" will only ruin it.

I'm not sure if the six upsets we've seen this season are just an anomaly or are part of a trend. Time will tell. I also need to think about adding JMU's victory over Virginia Tech to my list of upsets. If I did add it, where should it rank?

No comments: