It was easier to criticize FBS college football teams for scheduling FCS clubs before last week.
Eight FCS teams knocked off the FBS big boys last weekend. No more than five had done it in a weekend since 1985.
It was a glorious Friday/Saturday for the Missouri Valley Football Conference. FCS-No. 1 North Dakota State clipped Kansas State, 24-21, and current No. 9 Northern Iowa toppled Iowa State, 28-20.
“As we learned last week, there are no guarantees,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. He was talking about beating FCS teams, not his own squad’s 30-27 loss to Northern Illinois Saturday.
That said, Iowa’s home game against the MVFC’s Missouri State Saturday has no more luster to it than when the game was scheduled in March 2011. It’s just the kind of contest Big Ten athletic directors were trying to run from when they agreed last spring to stop scheduling FCS schools beginning in 2016.
The Big Ten is 95-8 all-time against FCS teams. Iowa is 10-0, having won those games by an average score of 40-9.
The Missouri Valley is a strong FCS league, but its members are just 20-100 against the FBS since 2000. Seven of those wins were courtesy of North Dakota State, the two-time defending FCS champion.
Terry Allen, 30-49 in his eighth year at Missouri State, won seven straight conference titles and went 40-7 in the Gateway Conference, now known as the Missouri Valley.
“The Valley wasn’t as good as it is now,” Allen said. Yeah, it didn’t have North Dakota State.
The Bison feed off everyone, large and small. They defeated Minnesota in 2007 and 2011, beat Kansas in 2010, and won at Colorado State last year.
NDSU is on Iowa State’s schedule next season and Iowa’s in 2016. I’d rather see the Hawkeyes keep that game than replace it with someone from FBS like the Massachusetts team that Wisconsin pummeled 45-0 last Saturday.
“It’s important to have more inclusion in college football,” said North Dakota State Coach Craig Bohl. “Games between FBS and FCS are, I think, really important for our game.”
Northern Iowa has much to gain from playing at least one FBS team each year. Namely, dollars. Iowa will play Missouri State $475,000 for its game here. That’s precious coin for a Missouri Valley program.
The Big Ten wants to remove FCS teams from its schedules because of the upcoming 4-team national playoffs, in which strength-of-schedule will help determine participants. If you go through with that, you can’t make exceptions.
But Northern Iowa was clearly superior to Iowa State last Saturday night, and is better than many of its FBS counterparts.
Missouri State is not. The Bears are 0-15 against the FBS since 2000, and seldom have been close in those games.
But Missouri State did lose by only 21-17 at North Dakota State last year. So it really is like what Ferentz said, and what Kansas State and Iowa State can verify. There are no guarantees.