Last week at Pac-12 meetings, an eight-game conference schedule was discussed among officials, a proposal that would end the conference’s nine-game slate that was put into effect in 2006.
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With the eight-game conference schedule bantered about in an attempt to even the playing field with the SEC and produce more bowl eligible teams, some believe that it would bring an increase in FCS games in the Pac-12. Should that happen, USC could enter uncharted territory, and wind up playing a team like Sacramento State.
Since Washington played host to FCS Champion Eastern Washington in 2011, USC became been one of just three FBS teams to never play an FCS opponent. Ironically, the trio included rivals UCLA and Notre Dame. But now, with the expansion of the FBS subdivision, that can no longer be said. At least for the time being.
UMass, South Alabama, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio all played their first season in the FBS in 2012, and three of the four played FCS opponents right off the bat.
Larry Coker’s UTSA Roadrunners actually played three games against the lower subdivision, including a tilt against almighty Northwest Oklahoma State, in which they won 56-3.
Only UMass played an all-FBS schedule in their first season, scheduling power conference foes Michigan, Indiana, UConn and Vanderbilt. This year however, the Minutemen are set to face Maine of the FCS in September, once again isolating USC, UCLA and Notre Dame among FBS schools.
As for the Pac-12, the conference historically has a track record of not giving FCS opponents much thought, a stark contrast to the ACC, who has amassed a record 254 games against the FCS.
Washington only caved when the Pac-12 brought forth divisional play in 2011, and just four schools have played more than 10 games against the FCS.
Interestingly enough, while Arizona and Arizona State have combined to go 20-0 against the FCS, much of that has come at the hands of Arizona lawmakers, who have pressured the two Pac-12 schools to schedule Northern Arizona. Since 2002, NAU has played Arizona or Arizona State every year, and have alternated between trips to Tucson and Tempe since 2005.
As a whole, the Pac-12 has played 112 games against the FCS since Division I split into two subdivisions in 1978, playing to a record of 103-9. In that same time frame, that SEC has played 192 games vs. FCS foes, while the Big Ten has had fewer, at 111.
Of the Pac-12’s nine losses, five have come to Oregon State, with the most recent being a 29-28 overtime loss to the aforementioned Sacramento State in 2011. Those same Hornets beat Colorado last season on a last second field goal, and are scheduled to play at Arizona State this September.
An increase in television revenue, the 12 game schedule that was put in place a decade ago and the Pac-12’s divisional format have all given teams reasons to schedule FCS teams. Whether or not USC and UCLA snap their streak remains to be seen, but for now, they remain on the bottom of the conference’s standings against the lower rung.
Here’s how the Pac-12 has fared against the FCS since 1978: