Though BC's annual FCS game has drawn its fair share of criticism from Eagles fans, Boston College typically plays one of the better programs from the lower division. This year is no exception as this year's FCS opponent, the Maine Black Bears, opens the season ranked 25th in the preseason Sports Network poll of media members. Earlier this month, Maine opened at #20 in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll.
Maine is coming off a Colonial Athletic Association championship after finishing last season at 10-3 and 7-1 in the CAA. The Black Bears welcome back 30 lettermen, including 15 starters, from last season's championship team.
Last season was a bit of a nightmare for FBS teams hosting teams from the lower division in guarantee games. A record 16 FCS teams knocked off teams from the FBS, including eight in the opening weekend. Maine added to that total knocking off former CAA rival UMass, 24-14, in week two.
|RANK||TEAM (FIRST-PLACE VOTES)||2013 RECORD||POINTS||2014 FBS OPPONENT|
|1||Eastern Washington Eagles (82)||12-3||3589||Washington|
|2||North Dakota State Bison (62)||15-0||3540||Iowa State|
|3||Southeastern Louisiana Lions (2)||11-3||3300||Tulane|
|4||New Hampshire Wildcats (1)||10-5||3090||Toledo|
|6||Jacksonville State Gamecocks||11-4||2634||Michigan State|
|7||Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||12-3||2461|
|8||McNeese State Cowboys||10-3||2277||Nebraska|
|9||Northern Iowa Panthers||7-5||2197||Iowa, Hawaii|
|10||South Dakota State Jackrabbits||9-5||2154||Missouri|
|13||Towson Tigers||13-3||1999||West Virginia|
|14||Chattanooga Mocs||8-4||1647||Central Michigan|
|15||Tennessee State Tigers||10-4||1448|
|16||Eastern Illinois Panthers||12-2||1375||Minnesota|
|17||Sam Houston State Bearkats||9-5||1345||LSU|
|18||Montana State Bobcats||7-5||1170|
|19||William & Mary Tribe||7-5||1151||Virginia Tech|
|21||Furman Paladins||8-6||802||South Carolina|
|22||Bethune-Cookman Wildcats||10-3||475||FIU, UCF|
|23||Northern Arizona Lumberjacks||9-3||429||San Diego State|
|24||Youngstown State Penguins||8-4||405||Illinois|
|25||Maine Black Bears||10-3||330||Boston College|
It should be noted that BC struggled at times with a top 25 FCS team last year. Villanova entered the season ranked fifth in the subdivision and took a 14-7 lead into halftime. BC ultimately outscored the Wildcats 17-0 in the second half to win 24-14, but the message was sent loud and clear that it wasn't a dominant victory.
Villanova would eventually drop out of the rankings with two weeks left in the season and finish 6-4 against FCS teams. They lost to Maine, 37-35, in a game where the Black Bears ranked 11th and the Wildcats 18th.
While there is a talent discrepancy from top to bottom, FCS teams are usually capable of running a system very well, something that befits them against FBS opponents. The top of their roster can usually contend with the middle tier or non-power five opponents in the upper subdivision, something that can allow them to win a game against a team if they play out of their mind. Oregon State, Kansas State, South Florida, UConn, and Florida all lost to lower division teams, with the Bulls getting blown out by over 20 points. Oregon State's loss was their second against "guarantee win" opponents from the FCS.
Two years ago, Pittsburgh and Colorado both lost, and Virginia Tech's lost to James Madison while ranked in the top 25. So while the Eagles can look at this on the schedule as a win, they still have to show up and compete against a team that will want to come into Alumni Stadium and make a statement.