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HomeSportsWhy FCS Teams Can't Beat Top-20 College Football Programs

Why FCS Teams Can’t Beat Top-20 College Football Programs

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For as long as college football has been played, there have been teams that sit at the top of the rankings.
These are the programs that have won countless national championships and consistently produce top
talent. However, there is one type of team that has always been able to beat these elite programs – an
FCS opponent.

FCS teams have a knack for playing against the best talent in the country, and over time they’ve
developed a specific style that can beat any team. In this article, we’ll rundown why FCS teams are so
tough to beat, and we’ll also give you a look at some of the top programs that have had trouble against
them in the past.

The Best Teams to Never Beat an FCS Team

Virginia tech football Since 1978, only eleven teams have played in a national championship game and
never beaten an FCS team. Of those eleven teams, eight were Division I-A schools. This data shows that
FCS teams simply aren’t up to the challenge against top-tier NCAA football programs.

FCS teams typically lack the resources and experience of Division I-A schools. Furthermore, these schools
typically play in larger stadiums with better facilities that help them compete against tougher
opponents. Additionally, Division I-A schools typically have more experienced players who are used to
playing in high-pressure situations.

It’s important to note that there have been exceptions to this rule. For example, Appalachian State beat
then number one ranked Alabama in 2006 and Northern Illinois upset No. 2 Ohio State in 2014.
However, these cases are rare because top-tier college football programs are usually too good for FCS

The Past Two Seasons of Games Played against Top 20 College Football Programs

Since the inception of the FCS level of play, there have been a variety of teams that have challenged top-
flight college football programs. This can largely be attributed to the parity in college football and how
every team is essentially a threat to any other team in the country.

FCS teams have been successful against some of the top programs in America, but they’ve never been
able to win against teams that are ranked in the top 20. The two most recent examples are North
Dakota State and Eastern Washington, who both narrowly lost to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson,

Both teams had chances to win those matchups, but couldn’t pull off the victory. In addition, FCS teams
have also lost to top-ranked programs in previous seasons as well ( Appalachian State vs Alabama in
2014; Northern Illinois vs Oklahoma State in 2015).

There are a few reasons why FCS teams can’t beat top-tier programs: first and foremost is talent
disparity. These schools typically recruit at a higher level than their FCS counterparts and Therefore,
their players are usually better than those on an FCS squad. Secondly, these schools have greater
experience playing against elite competition and know how to execute in high-pressure situations.
Lastly, these schools typically play more games per season than their opponents which gives them an
advantage on both sides of the ball.

Virginia Tech: A Case Study in Why Teams Can’t Beat Top 20 Programs

Virginia Tech is a great example of why teams can’t beat top-college football programs. The Hokies are
part of the ACC, one of the six conferences in Division I FBS, and have competed against some of the
best teams in the country. Despite their accomplishments, Virginia Tech has never beaten a team from a
Power 5 conference – something they’ve been close to doing multiple times.

The main reason for this is talent. Teams from Power 5 conferences typically have more talented
players, which allows them to play faster and more complicated offenses. FCS teams don’t have as many
stars, so they struggle to keep up with these more skilled opponents. Additionally, these bigger
programs often have better coaching staffs that help them strategize and adjust on the fly.

Even if a lower-division team does manage to pull off an upset victory over a Power 5 team, it’s unlikely
that this will lead to long-term success. Top-level programs are used to playing each other every week,
which gives them an advantage that cannot be easily matched. If a team hopes to compete against
college football’s best, they must first build up their own program into something formidable –
something that is likely impossible for most lower division teams


Although FCS teams have been making strides in recent years, they still can’t compete with top-20
College football programs. Even if a team were to win the national title, they would only be receiving a
fraction of the revenue that a top-20 program would receive. This is because FCS schools don’t generate
as much TV money and ticket sales as their Division I counterparts. In addition, FCS teams often lack the
resources (such as coaches and facilities) to compete at the same level. Despite these limitations,
however, FCS teams continue to make progress and deserve recognition for their accomplishments.

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