Big Sky Football 2020 Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Big Sky Conference
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
The Big Sky returns to being a strictly thirteen team league in 2020, as North Dakota has left for the Missouri Valley officially. Looking forward to autumn 2020, provided there is a full schedule, the Big Sky, as a whole, is being very ambitious. That or they are fortunate, as the conference plays eighteen of their thirty-nine non-conference games against the Football Championship Subdivision. That is just over 46% of their games. You figure a lot of unwanted losses coming from those games, but there’s always big time potential for statement wins, not to mention the large cash payments received just for playing them. With one less non-conference game than 2019, the spread against the rest of the Football Championship Subdivision is shrunk. Six games are played against the Missouri Valley, as part of their challenge. No other conference plays the Big Sky more than thrice.
Cal Poly: @ Louisiana-Monroe (FBS), @ California (FBS), vs. San Diego.
  • The FBS Louisiana-Monroe game is outside the normal Big Sky footprint, but many of those games are, just because of the conference’s extreme western extremity. The other FBS game at California is much easier on the travel, but probably tougher on the field. And the San Diego visit shouldn’t be a total pushover, at least by Pioneer League standards.
Eastern Washington: @ Florida (FBS), vs. Western Illinois, vs. Northern Arizona.
  • Wanna talk about out of the geographic footprint? The Eagles are taking that to the extreme. Should be a fun trip otherwise, the game will be difficult. The big win is the fact they scored two non-conference home games. This is huge for a program struggling on the financial side. The fans need to get out to The Inferno and support this team. It’s not like they’ve put a bad product on the field in recent history.
Idaho: vs. Western Oregon (lower), @ Temple (FBS), @ Washington State (FBS)
  • Hard to figure out the Vandals non-conference schedule here. A lower division game is sometimes the best you can do to get home games, especially when you’re a school in the western United States. Two FBS games, one of which is all the way to Philadelphia, makes you wonder if the administration wishes they were still in the FBS themselves.
Idaho State: @ New Mexico (FBS), @ Fresno State (FBS), vs. Northern Iowa.
  • Tough schedule for the Bengals. Two road games against the FBS means money but likely losses. That seems like a drum that’s been beaten to death. A home date against Northern Iowa is a great high level opponent, but might result in a third non-conference loss.
Montana: vs. Central Washington (lower), @ Missouri State, vs. Morehead State.
  • This is not the kind of schedule a team presumed to be in the national title mix usually plays. However, it may be one of those where they figure enough strong Big Sky games will keep their overall strength of schedule high. Central Washington is a really strong Division II program but won’t be viewed as much more than a warm-up game in November.
Montana State: vs. Long Island, @ Utah (FBS), vs. Dixie State.
  • Must have been an “almost” follow the leader plan in The Treasure State for 2020. The Bobcats are playing two home games against teams they figure to have beaten by halftime. They do play at FBS Utah, which will be a stern test. They may end up 2-1 as opposed to the Grizzlies, but may be better prepared in the long run.
Northern Arizona: @ Arizona State (FBS), vs. South Dakota, @ Eastern Washington.
  • After playing Arizona last year, this year the Lumberjacks will take a hack at Arizona State. Love it when FCS schools get games against multiple in-state big boys. They don’t always pay off in wins, but it keeps that state money where it belongs. NAU is also one of the schools who’s not above taking part in these MVC/Big Sky games. This year hosting South Dakota.
Northern Colorado: vs. Fort Lewis (lower), @ McNeese, @ Colorado State (FBS).
  • A pretty typical schedule for the Bears. They’ll get a lower Division opponent that they should be able to beat at home and still play at FBS Colorado State to make some money. UNC seems to be a school who’ll play other FCS teams and this year will be no different, going to McNeese.
Portland State: @ Arizona (FBS), @ Oregon State (FBS), vs. North Dakota.
  • The Vikings’ athletic department did the football team no favors booking them on the road for three non-conference games. Two games against Pacific Twelve teams will bring in some very helpful cash, but likely two losses. The game against North Dakota in Portland will be a little later in the season and part of the MVC/Big Sky Challenge.
Sacramento State: @ San Diego State (FBS), @ Washington (FBS), vs. Dixie State.
  • One of four Big Sky schools who gets a home date with FCS newcomer, Dixie State. They’re also one of six Big Skyers who plays two FBS road games - ouch! And with San Diego State and Washington, there’s no “easy” game, even by FBS standards.
Southern Utah: vs. Dixie State, @ Utah State (FBS), @ Abilene Christian.
  • The Thunderbirds get the honors of welcoming in-state Dixie State to the FCS level of football, Weber State plays them later. Another in-state game with FBS Utah State comes next. Strange timing with their last non-conference game as they’ll finish the regular season at Abilene Christian from the Southland Conference. But considering that each conference has an odd number of teams, this is a good way to stay active and avoid a late season bye.
UC-Davis: @ Nevada (FBS), vs. San Diego, @ San Jose State (FBS).
  • With only three non-conference games, playing two FBS programs is a handful. Yes, it can be profitable, but can also be taxing on one’s win total. The home game in between is a return game from last year’s trip to San Diego, which should be a little easier as the Aggies will be facing this Pioneer team that’s replacing its starting quarterback.
Weber State: @ Wyoming (FBS), @ Northern Iowa, vs. Dixie State.
  • A good mix for the Wildcats here. Road game to FBS Wyoming will be tougher, but will come with a good check. The return game to Northern Iowa will be a great FCS test before starting their Big Sky action a week later. A few weeks into conference play they get a break and host FCS newbie and in-state brother, Dixie State.


Big Sky Numbers
2 vs. Big Sky, which means there’s one bonus head-to-head meeting
6 vs. MVFC
1 vs. Northeast
3 vs. Pioneer
2 vs. Southland
4 vs. FCS Independent
18 vs. FBS
3 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)