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Boston College vs. Maine: Black Bears Football Ranked 25th In Preseason TSN Poll

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The Eagles' annual FCS opponent opens the season ranked 25th in the preseason Sports Network poll of media members.

John Gress

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
5 Montana Grizzlies 10-3 2817 Wyoming
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
11 Fordham Rams 12-2 2139 Army
12 Villanova Wildcats 6-5 2072 Syracuse
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
20 Richmond Spiders 6-6 963 Virginia
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.