David vs. Goliath, Texas-style
David vs. Goliath, Texas-style
2013-02-14 07:30:00

The Big Ten is done scheduling FCS opponents; will Texas schools follow suit? What does history say?

 By Greg Tepper
 DCTF Associate Editor









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For all the change that we’ve undergone in college football here in the state of Texas, one conference we’ve never really had to pay much more than a passing interest in is the Big Ten.

Our friends up north have more or less kept to themselves with regards to the Lone Star State over the years. Sure, there have been games in which our paths have crossed – UTEP, for example, traveled to Wisconsin this past season – but in general, the Big Ten couldn’t be more off the proverbial radar.

So why, then, are we discussing them here? Because yesterday, they did something newsworthy.

In an interview with Madison-based radio station WIBA-AM yesterday, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said that the conference’s coaches and athletic directors have collectively decided to stop scheduling games against FCS teams. They are the first conference in the nation to make such a move.

Sure, it won’t take effect immediately – many schools have their non-conference schedules locked in for the next few years – but it’s an interesting step, stemming what has been a nationwide trend of scheduling teams from the lower division to fill out the schedules.

Just this past season, FBS teams from Texas played seven games against FCS teams. But should teams from Texas take a lead from the Big Ten and stop scheduling FCS opponents as non-conference games?

The merits and drawbacks of FBS teams playing FCS foes are relatively straight-forward:

-It’s (usually) a relatively easy win for the FBS program, and a step toward bowl eligibility.
-It’s a nice paycheck for the FCS program, and potentially valuable experience for them.
-It’s a guaranteed home game for the FBS program, meaning all sorts of revenue.
-It’s a viable way for the FBS program to fill out its schedule.

-The game almost always stinks.

In fact, almost all FBS vs. FCS games in Texas have been pretty unwatchable. There are, of course, games in which the underdog FCS program beats the FBS program – entering the 2012 season, FCS teams nationwide had won 396 of their 2,252 contests, a modest .180 winning percentage. But in Texas, things haven’t gone nearly as well for FCS foes.

Here’s the record of every Texas FBS team playing an FCS team.

School Wins Losses Win % Last Loss
Baylor 18 0 1.000 Never
Houston 13 0 1.000 Never
Lamar (FBS 1973-1981) 3 1 0.750 1978, Northwestern State, 21-17
North Texas 6 1 0.857 1995, UAB, 19-14
Rice 7 3 0.700 2007, Nicholls State, 16-14
SMU 14 1 0.933 1990, North Texas, 14-7
TCU 9 2 0.818 2001, Northwestern State, 27-24
Texas 4 0 1.000 Never
Texas A&M 18 0 1.000 Never
Texas-Arlington 3 1 0.750 1980, Northwestern State, 38-31
Texas State 1 0 1.000 Never
Texas Tech 15 1 0.938 1988, North Texas, 29-24
UTEP 15 3 0.833 2003, Cal Poly, 34-13
UTSA 2 0 1.000 Never
OVERALL 128 13 0.908 2007, Nicholls State over Rice, 16-14

As you can see, Texas FBS teams have had even more success vs. FCS teams than the national average. With just 13 losses in 138 games – and only three losses since 1995 – the FBS teams in Texas have had their way with their FCS brethren.

And when you look at the scores of the games over the last five years, it only gets more lopsided. Here are the results of every Texas FBS team’s games vs. FCS opponents since 2008.

Date FBS Team FCS Opponent FBS Score FCS Score Margin
9/6/2008 TCU Stephen F. Austin 67 7 60
9/17/2011 Houston Georgia State 56 0 56
9/8/2012 TCU Grambling 56 0 56
9/22/2012 Texas A&M South Carolina State 70 14 56
9/26/2009 Baylor Northwestern State 68 13 55
9/11/2010 TCU Tennessee Tech 62 7 55
8/30/2008 Houston Southern 55 3 52
9/8/2012 SMU Stephen F. Austin 52 0 52
9/17/2011 Baylor Stephen F. Austin 48 0 48
9/5/2009 Houston Northwestern State 55 7 48
9/6/2008 Baylor Northwestern State 51 6 45
9/24/2011 TCU Portland State 55 13 42
9/4/2010 Texas A&M Stephen F. Austin 48 7 41
9/4/2010 Houston Texas State 68 28 40
9/3/2011 Texas Tech Texas State 50 10 40
9/1/2012 Texas Tech Northwestern State 44 6 38
9/19/2009 TCU Texas State 56 21 35
9/17/2011 SMU Northwestern State 40 7 33
9/4/2010 Baylor Sam Houston State 34 3 31
9/8/2012 North Texas Texas Southern 34 7 27
9/15/2012 Baylor Sam Houston State 48 23 25
9/5/2009 Texas Tech North Dakota 38 13 25
8/30/2008 Texas Tech Eastern Washington 49 24 25
9/4/2010 UTEP Arkansas Pine-Bluff 31 10 21
11/17/2012 Texas A&M Sam Houston State 47 28 19
9/6/2008 SMU Texas State 47 36 11
9/5/2009 SMU Stephen F. Austin 31 23 8
9/3/2011 UTEP Stony Brook 31 24 7
AVERAGE     49.7 12.1 37.5

See the trend? With an average margin of victory of 37.5 points, these games haven’t been particularly close. Only two games have been decided by fewer than ten points, and more than half – 16 of the 28 games – have been decided by 40 points or more.

But what about the FCS teams from here in the Lone Star State? Do they do better than the national average of .180 winning percentage for FCS teams against FBS opponents? Let’s take a look.

School Wins Losses Win % Last Win
Lamar 2 15 0.118 1989, UTEP, 21-19
Prairie View A&M 0 2 0.000 Never
Sam Houston State 3 16 0.158 2011, New Mexico, 48-45
Stephen F. Austin 2 15 0.118 2003, Louisiana-Monroe, 23-21
Texas Southern 1 15 0.063 1978, Tennessee State, 16-0
North Texas (FCS 1983-1995) 7 29 0.194 1990, SMU, 14-7
Texas State (FCS 1984-2011) 4 20 0.167 2000, Louisiana-Monroe, 27-7
Texas-Arlington (FCS 1964-1970) 4 6 0.400 1985, Wichita State, 31-3
West Texas A&M (FCS 1962-1985) 4 12 0.250 1985, New Mexico State, 55-25
OVERALL 27 130 0.172 2011, Sam Houston State over New Mexico, 48-45

Well, not so much. In fact, there are only three teams with a lifetime winning percentage higher than the national average…and none of them play in FCS anymore (North Texas is in FCS, West Texas A&M is in Division II, and Texas-Arlington’s football program disbanded).

Will teams from Texas eventually get rid of playing FCS opponents? It’s hard to tell. But until they do, history shows that we should expect more dominance, and more blowouts.

Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.

He can be reached via e-mail, via Twitter (@Tepper) and via the DCTF Facebook page.

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