(STATS) – Coming off a 2016 season in which their 10 wins over FBS programs tied for the fourth most in a season, FCS programs hope to make a mark again in 2017.
Southwestern Athletic Conference teams are involved in 11 of the nearly 100 matchups. However, their teams aren’t accustomed to providing upsets as the last SWAC team to beat an FBS opponent was Grambling State with a 23-6 win over Oregon State in 1985.
Here’s a look at this year’s matchups involving SWAC teams:
The matchups (11) – Alabama A&M vs. UAB (Sept. 2), Vanderbilt (Sept. 9) and South Alabama (Sept. 16); Alabama State vs. Troy (Sept. 9); Alcorn State vs. FIU (Sept. 9); Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Akron (Sept. 9) and Arkansas State (Sept. 16); Grambling State vs. Tulane (Sept. 2); Jackson State vs. TCU (Sept. 2); Southern vs. Southern Miss (Sept. 9) and UTSA (Sept. 16)
Glamour game – Alabama A&M at UAB. Granted, there will be plenty of bigger matchups on college football’s opening weekend, but this intrastate game will gain added attention because it marks the rebirth of UAB football, which was shut down after the 2014 season before being brought back after a ground-swell of public support. A&M played at UAB in 2014, losing 41-14.
Upset alert – Grambling State at Tulane. Grambling usually ends its regular season in New Orleans against rival Southern, and this year coach Broderick Fobbs’ squad also will open the season in the Big Easy, facing Tulane. The Tigers held a 21-3 halftime lead on Arizona last Sept. 10, but it slipped away in the second half while star quarterback DeVante Kincade was sidelined with an injury. The SWAC’s 2016 offensive player of the year is back this year.
Notable – Mississippi Valley State, Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern are not playing FBS opponents this season. … Alabama A&M is the only FCS team to be playing three FBS opponents (UAB, Vanderbilt and South Alabama) this year. … After not facing an FBS opponent last season, UAPB will play a pair in Akron and Arkansas State. Coach Monte Coleman is in his 10th season with the Golden Lions. … Jackson State’s season-opening game at TCU is the first meeting between the two schools. … Alabama State and Troy will meet for the first time since 2006. Troy holds a 13-2 series lead. … Both of Southern’s FBS opponents play in the Conference USA West Division. … New FIU coach Butch Davis will be coaching his first home game with the Panthers when they host Alcorn State.