The datelines include Tuscaloosa, Athens, Death Valley and College Station, but in the 2022 college football season, FCS teams want to rename various FBS locales as Upset City.
There are 118 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 the first of a two-part 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.
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 (Aug. 27) and San Diego State (Sept. 10); Montana State: Oregon State (Sept. 17 in Portland, Oregon); Northern Arizona: Arizona State (Sept. 1); Northern Colorado: Wyoming (Sept. 10); Portland State: San Jose State (Sept. 1) 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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).