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#CAAFB Vs. The “Big Boys” In 2014

Aug 9, 2014, 10:29 AM EST

It’s no secret that when FCS teams play opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), they’re already at a disadvantage.

Not trying to make excuses right away, but you get the idea.  Everything is different between the two levels of college football. Mainly, there’s a noticeable gap in facilities, budgets, number of players, number of scholarship players, and often times, athleticism. Again, there are many more pros versus the cons, but those are just the eye-openers for me.

In the upcoming 2014 season, #CAAFB teams play a total of 11 games versus opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Seven of those teams even qualified for bowl games last season: Delaware/Pitt (Aug. 30), Elon/Duke (Aug. 30), James Madison/Maryland (Aug. 30), Maine/Boston College (Sept. 20), Rhode Island/Marshall (Sept. 6), Villanova/Syracuse (Aug. 29) and William & Mary/Virginia Tech (Aug. 30). Back on July 21, I looked at some of the top early-season games to watch which included a handful of challenging, but manageable FBS games for 2014 as well.

There’s no denying that CAA Football has actually fared well in years past versus the so called “FBS Big Boys”, winning a total of 31 games since 1978 — the first year since NCAA 1-A *BCS/FBS* and 1-AA *FCS* Division. In fact, since the year 2000, #CAAFB teams won at least one FBS victory every year except 2001, 2005 and 2012. The most-recent FBS slayers from the league were, of course, Towson downing UConn to start 2013 and Maine beating old conference foe and now FBS newcomer UMass, also last season.

There could have been more victories in 2013, too, as a number of #CAAFB squads couldn’t quite capitalize enough on the road.

New Hampshire and Richmond both held leads at Central Michigan and NC State, respectively, before last-second field goals doomed the ‘Cats and Spiders. JMU lost at Akron in the final minutes by two points, 35-33, William & Mary nearly pulled off the upset at West Virginia before falling 24-17. Lastly, Villanova hung tough with Boston College, but fell 24-14.

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During CAA Football Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium, I spoke with a couple of student-athletes about playing those FBS games and what types of mindset they have.

“It makes you realize football is football,” Stony Brook senior OL Cody Precht said. “If you prepare well enough, you can play with anybody.”

The Seawolves are just two years removed from convincingly beating Army, 23-3, in a game that Precht played in, and last year they nearly pulled off a win at Buffalo, but fell in five overtimes (26-23). This year, SBU gets a shot at UConn to open its own season. Heard that before? Yes, looking at you, Towson.

“Last year, we played well for the first half,” Villanova QB John Robertson added about the loss at BC last fall. “It’s tough because FBS teams have all those bodies, but we just have to work a little harder and finish.”

Villanova started that game in Chestnut Hill, Mass., with a 14-7 first-quarter lead, but struggled offensively the rest of way.

Robertson admitted that he and fellow Wildcat teammates are especially looking forward to the 2014 opener — a Friday night prime-time contest at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome — because it could offer a unique chance at redemption.

“It’s going to be great,” Robertson said at Media Day. “A lot of our players were getting recruited by (Syracuse) and didn’t get offers. I remember my first recruiting junior day was at Syracuse when I was like 16. Ironically, they were playing Nova in basketball. It’s going to be a great game. I think we are all going to get up for it.”

I think the same sentiment can be said for all CAA Football fans as the season quickly approaches.