FCS vs. FBS: What does the future hold?

2014-08-27T19:52:00Z 2014-08-27T22:40:59Z FCS vs. FBS: What does the future hold?Greg Rachac The Billings Gazette

The evolution of college football -- from the Big Ten swearing off FCS opponents last year to the FBS's "Power 5" conferences gaining a large measure of autonomy from the NCAA earlier this summer -- is threatening to limit "guarantee" games going forward. The FCS-vs.-FBS matchups we're accustomed to (many of which are vital  for smaller schools to meet athletic budget demands) might be fewer and fewer in the coming years.

The Bobcats and Grizzlies are each playing FBS teams on Saturday. Montana is at Wyoming and MSU is at Arkansas State. Both are being paid in the $400,000 range.

The FCS's watershed moment, of course, occurred on Sept. 1, 2007, when Appalachian State stunned Michigan 34-32. On Sept. 11, 2010, James Madison shocked Virginia Tech 21-16. And on Aug. 31 of last year, Eastern Washington knocked off Oregon State 49-46. Those wins represent the only times FCS teams have beaten ranked FBS opponents. Will the FCS have those same opportunities five years from now?

Bobcats coach Rob Ash addressed the issue during his press conference on Tuesday:

“They already are starting to decline some. The big five conferences are starting to play (fewer) FCS opponents, and starting to play more and more of the other conference teams in FBS and paying big guarantees to those teams. I like them. I think it’s very important. I think it’s a great motivator for our guys when we play an FBS team. It’s a good payday. There are a lot of pluses from the FCS side, and we’ll continue to (play) them as long as we’re allowed to."

In 2014, there are 108 FCS-vs.-FBS games scheduled. That's still a pretty significant number. But we'll see how many there are in 2019. I'm guessing a lot fewer. Last year, the FCS won eight games over the FBS, on opening weekend no less.

In true #FearTheFCS spirit, here is a list of some of the bigger wins in recent years:

2013

 Eastern Washington 49, No. 25 Oregon State 46 

 North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21

• Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20 

2011

 Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

• Richmond 23, Duke 21

2010

• James Madison 21, No. 23 Virginia Tech 16

 Jacksonville State 49, Ole Miss 48

2007

• Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32

• Northern Iowa 24, Iowa State 13

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Sportswriter for The Billings Gazette covering Montana and Montana State athletics in addition to various high school sports.

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