Seven FCS programs earned wins over the top division in college football in 2018. That was slightly below average with nine FCS over FBS wins in 2017, 10 in 2016 and nine in 2015.
While the overall win percentage is low, every year the FCS grabs a handful of victories against the FBS. Ten is about the average, although 2000 saw 16 wins.
Can the FCS come close to that number in 2019? Here are the 15 most likely upsets:
[divider]MORE FCS vs. FBS
- Every FCS vs. FBS Game in the 2019 College Football Season
- 21 Fascinating Numbers From The 189 FCS-Over-FBS Wins
15. South Dakota State at Minnesota (Aug. 29)
This looks like the best team Minnesota has had in recent years coming off a 7-6 season. Most of the offensive production is coming back, but the Gophers suffered an unfortunate injury to sophomore quarterback Zack Annexstad, who started the first seven games last year. SDSU looks like it'll be starting a redshirt freshman (J'Bore Gibbs) at QB. But the Jacks have a loaded roster with Big Ten-type talent surrounding him.
14. UC Davis at California (Aug. 31)
The Aggies beat FBS San Jose State 44-38 last year and lost to No. 9 Stanford 30-10. UC Davis looks to be a stronger team in 2019 with national title hopes. Cal finished 7-6 last year and loses about half of its offensive production. The defense should be a solid unit, but the Aggies are going to get their points with this offensive firepower.
13. Eastern Kentucky at Louisville (Sept. 7)
Louisville really struggled last year, finishing 2-10 with those two wins coming in the nonconference vs. FCS Indiana State (31-7) and Western Kentucky (20-17). EKU nearly beat Bowling Green (42-35) last year and competed well against Marshall before falling 32-16. With 16 starters back on offense and defense, the Colonels could make this game interesting.
12. Illinois State at Northern Illinois (Aug. 31)
The Redbirds absolutely dominated Colorado State last year, 35-19. And Illinois State turned out to be an average FCS team, finishing 6-5. But most of its starting lineup is back, and this team looks to be an FCS contender. NIU was solid last year at 8-6 and has 64 percent of its offensive production and 75% of its defensive production returning. Illinois State won't be your typical FCS team in 2019, though.
11. Indiana State at Kansas (Aug. 31)
Could Les Miles lose to an FCS team in his first game as Kansas' head coach? For a team that went 3-9 last year and loses half of its offensive and defensive production, it's certainly possible. Indiana State is a veteran team that brings back most of its starters. Kansas lost to an FCS team (Nicholls) last year, and the Sycamores could be just as strong as that squad.
10. Southern Illinois at UMass (Sept. 7)
SIU? A team that went 2-9 last year? You bet. Before injuries took its toll, SIU gave Ole Miss a scare. The Salukis were down 49-41 in the third quarter before Ole Miss went on a scoring frenzy in the fourth quarter to win 76-41. SIU has some new pieces on offense but should remain explosive while its defense improves. UMass went 4-8 last year and lost a lot of production.
9. Kennesaw State at Kent State (Sept. 7)
Kennesaw opened the 2018 season with a 24-20 loss to FBS Georgia State, a game the Owls should've won. Gone from last year's quarterfinal team is almost its entire offense. But we still feel like Kennesaw's defense is going to be tremendous and the triple-option can be a hassle to defend. Kent State was a 2-10 team last year that allowed 220.3 rushing yards per game.
8. Alcorn State at Southern Miss (Aug. 31)
Southern Miss has a good chunk of its production coming back from last year's 6-5 team. But Alcorn State is absolutely stacked from a near Celebration Bowl win last season. The Braves have their All-American quarterback (Noah Johnson) and running back (De'Shawn Waller) returning along with four starting offensive linemen. Plus, the defense has seven returning starters.
7. James Madison at West Virginia (Aug. 31)
These teams have opposite storylines coming into this year. The Dukes are loaded with starters back at almost every position. Meanwhile, there's a lot of rebuilding to do at WVU. JMUU had chances in the fourth quarter to beat North Carolina State last season and this year's squad will be much better than the 2018 Dukes. The Mountaineers are just a touchdown favorite by online oddsmakers. Expect a tight ballgame until the final whistle.
6. Furman at Georgia State (Sept. 7)
Georgia State nearly lost to Kennesaw State last season (24-20) and finished the season 2-10. Furman comes to town off a playoff-bubble season with eight starters back on offense and the top four tacklers returning on defense along with Adrian Hope, who had 15 sacks in 2018. The Paladins have a rich history of knocking off FBS opponents. This one could be next.
5. Incarnate Word at UTSA (Aug. 31)
UTSA took a step back last year, going from 6-5 to 3-9. The opposite can be said about UIW, who went from 1-10 to 6-5 with a trip to the FCS playoffs. The Cardinals should have a strong passing attack again with quarterback Jon Copeland back. UTSA has just half of its defensive production returning and allowed 275.2 passing yards per game in 2018.
4. Maine at Liberty (Oct. 19)
Liberty is a recent program to move from the FCS to the FBS. The 2017 season began the two-year FBS reclassification process. Last year was the first season the Flames played a mostly-full FBS schedule, finishing 6-6 with two FCS games that resulted in wins — 48-41 vs. Idaho State and 52-17 vs. Norfolk State. Idaho State was not a playoff team last year. Meanwhile, Maine advanced to the semifinals and brings back a majority of that team. The Black Bears got an FBS win last year, beating Western Kentucky 38-31.
3. Central Arkansas at Western Kentucky (Aug. 29)
Western Kentucky does bring back a majority of its offensive and defensive production from last year's 3-9 team. One of those losses came against Maine (38-31). UCA went just 6-5 in 2018 but is loaded with talent coming back and looks like a playoff team. Watch for running backs Carlos Blackman and Kierre Crossley to have big games behind an experienced offensive line.
2. Sam Houston State at New Mexico (Aug. 31)
SHSU has about 18 starters coming back on offense and defense and expects to have a bounce-back season coming off a 6-5 record. New Mexico went 3-9 last year and really struggled defensively, allowing 36.2 points per game. That's an area this explosive SHSU offense can exploit. The Bearkats are an experienced team and come into this game expecting to win.
1. Nicholls at Texas State (Sept. 28)
The Colonels knocked off Kansas in overtime to open a 2018 season that saw a 9-4 record. This team was used to scaring FBS opponents the previous seasons (a 24-14 loss to Texas A&M in 2017 and a 26-24 loss to Georgia in 2016) and finally got a win last year. Nicholls wants to do the same against a Texas State squad that finished 3-9 last year.
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast