David vs. Goliath, Texas-style
The Big Ten is done scheduling FCS opponents; will Texas schools follow suit? What does history say?
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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|
|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-Arlington||3||1||0.750||1980, Northwestern State, 38-31|
|Texas Tech||15||1||0.938||1988, North Texas, 29-24|
|UTEP||15||3||0.833||2003, Cal Poly, 34-13|
|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|
|9/22/2012||Texas A&M||South Carolina State||70||14||56|
|9/8/2012||SMU||Stephen F. Austin||52||0||52|
|9/17/2011||Baylor||Stephen F. Austin||48||0||48|
|9/4/2010||Texas A&M||Stephen F. Austin||48||7||41|
|9/3/2011||Texas Tech||Texas State||50||10||40|
|9/1/2012||Texas Tech||Northwestern State||44||6||38|
|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|
|11/17/2012||Texas A&M||Sam Houston State||47||28||19|
|9/5/2009||SMU||Stephen F. Austin||31||23||8|
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.