Eastern Illinois has a good, sound NCAA Football Championship Subdivision football program.
It won the Ohio Valley Conference championship last year and in 2005, and was an OVC co-champ in 2006. The Panthers of Charleston, Ill., compete.
When they're playing someone their own size, that is.
Since 2002, EIU has faced six squads from BCS leagues. The Panthers not only lost all six, but didn't come any closer than 25 points of any of the winners.
2002 - Kansas State 63, EIU 13
2003 - Missouri 37, EIU 0
2006 - Illinois 42, EIU 17
2007 - Purdue 52, EIU 6
2008 - Illinois 47, EIU 21
2009 - Penn State 52, EIU 3
Ouchie. The Panthers are 1-12 vs. FBS teams since 2000, with the lone win a 31-28 decision over Eastern Michigan in 2004. The combined score of those 13 games is Opponents 573, Eastern Illinois 191.
This is the team that is coming to Kinnick Stadium Saturday to play No. 9 Iowa. EIU will almost surely take its beating, get its nice paycheck, then go home to get ready to play Central Arkansas in Charleston the following week.
If I'm accused by any of you Iowa fans of firing up the Panthers ... thank you for giving me so much credit and respect. The mere challenge of playing the No. 9 team in FBS obviously isn't enough to motivate the underdogs. They clearly need a sportswriter to do their coaches' jobs and get them fired up.
The pressure to win and to have a seventh home game a year is what has given all these probable mismatches to college football. Thursday night alone brings us epic encounters like these:
Towson at Indiana
Presbyterian at Wake Forest
Norfolk State at Rutgers
Florida A&M at Miami (Fla.)
On Saturday we get Youngstown State-Penn State, Samford-Florida State, South Carolina State-Georgia Tech, Coastal Carolina-West Virginia ... need I go on? There are 37 FBS-FCS matchups in Week One. The over/under on FCS winners is 1.5.
These wins will all count toward the bowl-eligibility of all the FBS teams. They will all count on their coaches' career records. They are matchups of teams with 63 scholarship players against teams with 85, of teams with far fewer financial resources going on the road to play the biggest boys.
Yes, Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007. And Northern Iowa came oh, so close of upsetting Iowa last year. UNI has as good a history against FBS teams as any in all of FCS. UNI has played its way out of this discussion, and Iowa State better be on its game when it hosts those Panthers on Sept. 25.
But let's not forget these gems from 2009:
Alabama 45, Chattanooga 0
Mississippi 52, SE Louisiana 6
Florida 62, Charleston Southern 3
Michigan State 44, Montana State 3
Northwestern 47, Towson 14
Boston College 54, Northeastern 0
North Carolina State 65, Murray State 7
California 59, Eastern Washington 7
Missouri 52, Furman 12
Kansas 49, Northern Colorado 3
Oklahoma State 56, Grambling State 6
Oklahoma 64, Idaho State 0
Arizona State 50, Idaho State 3
Baylor 68, Northwestern State 13
And ... Cincinnati 70, SE Missouri State 3Well done, everyone. We all eagerly look forward to more great FBS-FCS battles this week and throughout September.