Pioneer Football 2020 Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Pioneer League
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
The Pioneer League gets a pass when it comes to playing lower division opponents, considering they don’t give out athletic scholarships. These games are needed to garner wins and boost morale. But that doesn’t mean they should load up and play three or more. The conference does get an automatic bid, but at-large berths are usually off the table. Most of the games these teams get against other FCS programs are on the road. Almost every angle you look at is a disadvantage on the field. They do pull upsets though and they’ve done it in the playoffs even. There was a significant change during this offseason - Jacksonville discontinued their program. And change comes next year, as Presbyterian will make a full transition from the Big South to the Pioneer.
Butler: @ South Dakota State, @ DePauw (lower), vs. Taylor (lower).
  • Butler gets North Dakota State off the schedule and replaces them with…South Dakota State! Not sure what kind of tradeoff that is, incredibly tough. A road game at a lower division opponent is bad for any FCS program.
Davidson: @ Campbell, vs. Barton (lower), vs. Middle Georgia State (lower).
  • The in-state game at Campbell is very important. It gives them an FCS opponent and it keeps them fresh in the minds of the state’s media and as an alternative for players. The two non-FCS games are typical winnable games.
Dayton: @ Southeast Missouri State, @ Georgetown, vs. Robert Morris.
  • Dayton is challenging themselves here, as they will take on three teams from AQ conferences. The first game, SEMO, in particular, will be difficult. The other two have decent to good potential for victories. A good schedule that will have them well prepared for conference action.
Drake: vs. Hastings College (lower), @ North Dakota State, @ Dixie State.
  • Last year, Drake had a scheduled home game with South Dakota State, which they sold back to SDSU and went on the road instead. After hosting a lower division foe, Hastings, to open this year, they’ll travel to North Dakota State instead. After a week off, they’ll travel to newcomers to FCS, Dixie State, before getting into Pioneer play.
Marist: vs. Georgetown, @ Cornell, @ Dartmouth.
  • Marist is slated to play the exact three teams they did in 2019, swapping home and away venues with each. Georgetown is a mainstay on their schedule, as both are considered like the ninth and tenth Ivy League schools. Of course, the other two are Ivy League non-conference opponents. A good, traditional schedule here.
Morehead State: vs. Presbyterian, @ Montana, vs. St. Andrew’s (lower).
  • Morehead State has dropped down to one lower division game this year, that’s good. They get a home game with future Pioneer League member, Presbyterian, to start the season. They’ll also travel to Montana, which will probably serve as one of the biggest road venue they’ve played in FCS.
San Diego: @ UC-Davis, @ Cal Poly, vs. Georgetown.
  • Definitely the Pioneer League’s toughest non-conference schedule again. They start the season off with road games to the Big Sky’s UC-Davis and Cal Poly. They do have a bye week in between, which will help. They’ll finish the regular season with a home game against Georgetown. Three AQ conference games, two on the road.
Stetson: vs. Ave Maria (lower), vs. Louisiana College (lower), @ Presbyterian.
  • For the second straight year, Stetson should probably be the FCS recipient of the non-conference Charmin Award, for having the softest schedule. Two lower division opponents and a roadie at Presbyterian, who’s transitioning from scholarship to non-scholarship football. This is a weak schedule designed only for victories.
Valparaiso: @ North Dakota, @ Central Connecticut State.
  • Valparaiso is going the direct opposite route as Stetson above. Right now, the Crusaders only have two non-conference games, so they have the opportunity to add another game. If it happens to be a major FCS conference team, this might be the toughest within the Pioneer.
Pioneer Numbers
3 vs. Big Sky
1 vs. Big South
2 vs. Ivy
3 vs. MVFC
2 vs. NEC
1 vs. OVC
3 vs. Patriot
3 vs. FCS Independent
0 vs. FBS
8 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)