Sep 032012

From a historical perspective, it was an interesting weekend for the four newest members of the FBS.

It wasn’t Texas St., but Houston who looked like they were transitioning to the FBS. In a shocker the Bobcats upset the Cougars 30-13. Going back to 1987, it’s the second greatest margin of victory by a FBS team making their debut. The greatest FBS debut occurred in 1989, when Louisiana Tech defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 40-14.

Texas-San Antonio defeated fellow newcomer South Alabama 33-31. The Roadrunners won the game on a 51-yard field goal by Sean Ianno with only :16 seconds left.

Noteworthy: Texas St. and Texas-San Antonio are the first teams since 1989 (Louisiana Tech), to win a FBS debut.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts won’t be celebrating their 37-0 loss to Connecticut or the dubious history it made. The Minuteman became the first team since Alabama-Birmingham in 1996, to be shutout in their FBS debut.

Check out the complete list of FBS debuts going back to 1987.

List of FBS Debuts Going Back to 1987

Note: The line between a FBS and FCS team is kind of skewed. Transitional FBS members were sometimes considered part of the FBS or FCS depending on the media source. In my eyes a team was first a member of the FBS when they played the majority of their games vs. FBS opponents and/or the majority of the mainstream media mentioned them as a FBS team.

Some of the teams listed below opened their inaugural seasons vs. FCS opponents. Only games vs. FBS opponents were considered FBS debut games.

Columns can be sorted by clicking on the titles in the header.

SeasonTeamRkOpponentResultMarginFinal W-L-TW Pct
1987Akron (OH)atWestern MichiganL 24-19-54-7-00.364
1989Louisiana TechatLouisiana-LafayetteW 40-14265-4-10.550
1992Arkansas St.atToledo (OH)L 49-0-492-9-00.182
1992NevadaatWyomingL 25-6-197-5-00.583
1994Louisiana-Monroeat8ColoradoL 48-13-353-8-00.273
1995North TexasatMissouriL 28-7-212-9-00.182
1996Alabama-Birminghamat16Auburn (AL)L 29-0-295-6-00.455
1996Boise St. (ID)vs.Central MichiganL 42-21-212-10-00.167
1996Central FloridaatSouth CarolinaL 33-14-195-6-00.455
1996IdahoatWyomingL 40-38-26-5-00.545
1997Marshall (WV)atWest VirginiaL 42-31-1110-3-00.769
1999Buffalo (NY)vs.Akron (OH)L 17-10-70-11-00.000
1999Middle Tennessee St.atMississippi St.L 40-7-333-8-00.273
2000ConnecticutatEastern MichiganL 32-25-73-8-00.273
2000South FloridaatKentuckyL 27-9-187-4-00.636
2001Troy (AL)at4NebraskaL 42-14-287-4-00.636
2005Florida AtlanticatKansasL 30-19-112-9-00.182
2005Florida InternationalatKansas St.L 35-21-145-6-00.455
2007Western Kentuckyat6FloridaL 49-3-467-5-00.583
2012MassachusettsatConnecticutL 37-0-37??
2012South Alabamavs.Texas-San AntonioL 33-31-2??
2012Texas St.atHoustonW 30-1317??
2012Texas-San AntonioatSouth AlabamaW 33-312??


Additional Info

  • Going back to 1987, teams making their FBS debut are 3-20 (.130 W Pct).
  • South Alabama’s two-point loss to Texas-San Antonio ties Idaho for the second smallest margin of defeat in a FBS debut. In 1996, Idaho loss their FBS debut to Wyoming 40-38.


Sources: Game scores retrieved from College Football Data Warehouse and College Football at

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