After announcing the league would no longer schedule FCS opponents starting in 2016, the Big Ten relented and will once again allow member schools to schedule games against opponents from the FCS level.
Going forward, whenever a Big Ten team has only four home conference games on the schedule they will be allowed to add an FCS game to fill their home slate. As Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney said at the conference's media day, "When we went to nine games, we did not anticipate the problems that some of our skills would have in years that they only had four conference games — it was very difficult for them to get three FBS opponents on to their schedules if they were looking for seven home games.”
Now, Big Ten teams can occasionally add an FCS game to their schedule, which, if history has anything to say about it, won't necessarily be a walk in the park — for the Big Ten team.
Here's a look at the last five times an FCS team took down a Big Ten opponent.
Sept. 10, 2016: Illinois State 9, Northwestern 7
Last year we saw two FCS opponents knock off Big Ten teams, starting with an Illinois State victory over Northwestern on September 10.
Only three scoring plays took place in the game. First, Illinois State running back George Moreira punched it in from six yards out and the Redbirds took a 6-0 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half after Sean Slattery missed the extra point.
Northwestern answered with 9 minutes remaining in the fourth when Clayton Thorson found Austin Carr for a 10-yard score. Northwestern took a 7-6 lead.
Illinois State, though, went on a 77-yard drive in the final three minutes to set up Slattery for redemption, and he hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Redbirds over the Wildcats, 9-7.
Northwestern paid Illinois State $400,000 for a notch in the "L" column.
Sept. 17, 2016: North Dakota State 23, #5 Iowa 21
The second FCS victory in 2016 came at the hands of North Dakota State, who also claimed a win with a last-second field goal over Iowa.
Iowa led 14-7 at the half thanks to a pair of C.J. Beathard touchdown passes, answering NDSU's early 7-0 lead on a MJ Stumpf 21-yard interception return.
King Frazier punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game for NDSU in the third quarter, but Iowa answered with another Beathard TD pass late in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was all NDSU, as Easton Stick found Chase Morlock for a late TD to make it 21-20 after a two-point attempt to take the lead failed. NDSU got another chance late, and Cam Pedersen hit a 37-yard field goal to win it.
NDSU became the fourth FCS team ever to beat an AP-ranked FBS team, handed Iowa it's first-ever loss to a non-FBS opponent, and earned 74 votes in the AP poll the following week, coming in just outside the top 25 at No. 27.
Oh, and Iowa paid them $500,000 to play.
Sept. 24, 2011: North Dakota State 37, Minnesota 24
It's NDSU again on the list as the Bison took a 2011 matchup with Minnesota, winning 37-24 on the scoreboard and adding $350,000 to the bank.
This one didn't come down to a last second field goal, but it was close early. Minnesota jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the second quarter before the NDSU offense got rolling. Back-to-back rushing touchdowns from Brock Jensen and Sam Ojuri gave the Bison a 14-7 lead.
Minnesota answered with a Donnell Kirkwood touchdown run, but NDSU added another score on a D.J. McNorton touchdown run with 24 seconds left in the half. Then Colten Heagle intercepted a Marqueis Gray pass and lateraled it to Marcus Williams who took it the rest of the way for a score as time expired in the first half to put North Dakota State up 28-14.
The Gophers pulled with a touchdown at 31-24 in the fourth quarter, but Williams added another defensive touchdown on a 40-yard pick six to seal the 37-24 win.
Sept. 11, 2010: South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
Sorry Minnesota fans, but this list doesn't get better for you. A year before losing to NDSU, South Dakota handed Minnesota another FCS vs. Big Ten loss, winning a 41-38 shootout.
South Dakota never trailed after answering Minnesota's early field goal with a Chris Ganious rushing touchdown. It was the Dante Warren show all day, as the Coyotes quarterback threw for 352 yards (on 21-of-30 attempts), three touchdowns and two interceptions, rushing for 81 yards and two scores on 10 carries.
Will Powell had a huge day for South Dakota, catching 8 passes for 156 yards and a pair of scores, including a 61-yard second half bomb.
Sept. 1, 2007: Appalachian State 34, #5 Michigan 32
Finally, we get to what might be the most famous FCS vs. FBS upset of all time — Appalachian State's 2007 win over No. 5 Michigan. It was the first time an FCS team defeated an AP-poll ranked FBS team, and remains the only time an FCS team has defeated a top-10 program.
Heading into the game, Vegas oddsmakers didn't put out a betting line because the game was expected to be so lopsided.
Appalachian State jumped out to a 28-17 lead at the half, but Michigan climbed back into the lead after a field goal and a pair of Mike Hart rushing touchdowns. The Wolverines held a one-point advantage — 32-31 — with just over four minutes to play.
Michigan intercepted an Appalachian State pass on the first play of the next drive, but had a 43-yard field goal attempt blocked with 1:37 to play. Appalachian State drove 69 yards on 7 plays in 1:11 to set up a Julian Rauch 24-yard go-ahead field goal with 26 seconds remaining.
Chad Henne found Mario Manningham for 46 yards to the Appalachian State 20-yard-line with 6 seconds on the clock, and it looked like Michigan would recover. But Jason Gingell's 37-yard field goal was blocked again and Appalachian State survived to complete the upset.
Michigan paid Appalachian State $400,000 for what ended to be one of the biggest upsets in college football history — and the first-ever game televised on the newly launched Big Ten Network.