Big Sky Football Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Big Sky Conference
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
The thirteen and one-half team Big Sky Conference plays a whopping nineteen games against the FBS in 2019. Wait! You’re asking, thirteen and one-half, right? This is the last season that North Dakota will have a lasting presence here. Next season, the Fighting Hawks move to the Missouri Valley Football Conference. So for the time being, they will finish out their scheduled Big Sky commitments before moving along. In doing so, their games will count in the Big Sky standings, for everyone else, but NOT for them. I know, a weird situation, hence thirteen and one-half. So North Dakota will be treated as an independent, which is their official designation, but included here since they play a full Big Sky Conference schedule. Gotta love these quirks. The highlight here, besides the plethora of FBS games, is the Big Sky/MVFC Challenge, with ten head-to-head meetings. This is NOT counting the North Dakota/North Dakota State match-up.
Cal Poly: vs. San Diego, @ Weber State, @ Oregon State (FBS).
  • Only playing an eleven game schedule means there’s just three non-conference games here. For a Big Sky team, it’s not an obscene amount of travel, but they do leave SoCal twice, one of which is with a fellow Big Sky team.
Eastern Washington: @ Washington (FBS), vs. Lindenwood (lower), @ Jacksonville State, @ Idaho.
  • Washington is a great FBS game here, as it should help out financially with less of a travel strain, which they’ll need that cash to haul everything to Alabama to play Jacksonville State. Still, that’s a great game to see on the calendar. With the exodus of North Dakota next year, Idaho will switch into one of EWU’s in-conference rivalry opponents.
Idaho: @ Penn State (FBS), vs. Central Washington (lower), @ Wyoming (FBS), vs. Eastern Washington.
  • Landing two home games and two FBS money games, good there. The problem is all these opponents are tough. Even CWU has potential to play close/upset if things fall right. And being sandwiched in between those two FBS games? It is at home though.
Idaho State: vs. Western-CO State (lower), @ Utah (FBS), @ Northern Iowa, @ Brigham Young (FBS).
  • Two FBS trips across the state line to the Salt Lake area should provide a nice money haul. A trip to Northern Iowa gives them an opponent that hasn’t been seen lately, if ever.
Montana: @ South Dakota, vs. North Alabama, @ Oregon (FBS), vs. Monmouth.
  • Interesting here are the two home games. Both of these are against teams from the Big South Conference. Might be a culture shock for those schools coming to play in a place like Missoula with all those loud, crazy fans. A fun atmosphere, but very tough.
Montana State: @ Texas Tech (FBS), vs. Southeast Missouri State, @ Western Illinois, vs. Norfolk State.
  • The Bobcats, like Montana, are playing some teams from outside the normal Big Sky footprint - and that’s a great thing. The opener at Texas Tech will be tough, as should the second and third games. Norfolk State should supply a good walk through before conference play.
North Dakota (independent): vs. Drake, @ North Dakota State, vs. Sam Houston State.
  • UND also has eight Big Sky games on top of these. North Dakota State and Sam Houston State were elected to appear on the same schedule? Wow! And don’t completely discount a Drake team who played Montana close a good portion of their game last year and almost upset Iowa State.
Northern Arizona: vs. Missouri State, @ Arizona (FBS), vs. Western New Mexico (lower), @ Illinois State.
  • That Missouri State game has to have been circled since that 40-8 obliteration last year in Columbia, MO. The two road games are nothing to sneeze at either. Should be an interesting vibe when they play the Wildcats in Tuscon. In-state FBS/FCS games are always fun.
Northern Colorado: @ San Jose State (FBS), @ Washington State (FBS), @ Sacramento State, vs. South Dakota.
  • Wow! Now this is a tough schedule. Three of the four are on the road, two of which are at FBS schools. Sacramento State is improving and South Dakota is looking to jump up the success ladder also.
Portland State: @ Arkansas (FBS), vs. Simon Fraser (lower), @ Boise State (FBS), vs. Eastern Oregon (lower).
  • Feast and famine schedule here. The FBS games should be horrific to watch. The two lower division opponent games could be the same, but in Portland State’s favor.
Sacramento State: vs. Southern Oregon (lower), @ Arizona State (FBS), vs. Northern Colorado, @ Fresno State (FBS).
  • Two home, two away. This is really a pretty typical schedule for a Big Sky team. One lower division opponent and a couple of FBS games. Also having a non-conference game with a conference foe, very normal.
Southern Utah: @ UNLV (FBS), @ Northern Iowa, vs. Stephen F. Austin, @ South Dakota State.
  • Three very tough road games here. Even if UNLV isn’t a top level program, they’re still FBS and have another 22 scholarships at their disposal. Playing two of the MVFC’s traditional powers on the road is unfriendly.
UC-Davis: @ California (FBS), @ San Diego, vs. Lehigh, @ North Dakota State.
  • FBS games as close as California are almost all profit. A strange intersectional game with Lehigh, but we like those. A super tough road trip to the Fargo Dome. A rare road game to a Pioneer League opponent, though San Diego is better than most of them, if not all.
Weber State: @ San Diego State (FBS), vs. Cal Poly, @ Nevada (FBS), vs. Northern Iowa.
  • Another difficult schedule. Two FBS road games along with home games with a fellow Big Sky and a MVFC opponent. This is a team who’s on the brink of becoming a national power; you need to play non-conference schedules like this.
Big Sky Numbers
6 vs. Big Sky, which means there’s three head-to-head meetings
2 vs. Big South
1 vs. MEAC
10 vs. MVFC
2 vs. OVC
1 vs. Patriot
2 vs. Pioneer
1 vs. Southland
8 vs. FCS Independent (North Dakota)
19 vs. FBS
7 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)