May 312013

Despite the glaring differences in roster depth and talent, since 1978, schools from the FBS (I-A) have on 199 occasions  faced off against schools from college football’s lower levels (NCAA Division II/III & NAIA).

Listed below are the records FBS schools have against non-Division I schools.

Important notes on the classification of FBS and non-Div. 1 schools:

In 1978, the NCAA split Division I football into two levels. All of the records listed below only go back to that split in 1978. Note, the NCAA Division I/II/III classifications go back to 1973.

The only games counted were the ones where a then FBS school played a then non-Division I NCAA school.

For the history of FBS (I-A) vs. FCS (I-AA) click here.

Schools that were probationary FBS/I-A members were counted as full FBS members.

Click here to see a list of schools that are or have been members of the FBS (I-A).


FBS (I-A) Schools vs. Div II/III & NAIA Schools (Since 1978)

Remember: The only games counted were the ones where a then FBS school played a then non-Division I school (i.e. Akron’s victory over Kent St. in 1979, was counted because although Akron is now a member of the FBS, at the time of that victory they were a member of the NCAA’s Division II).

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

WLTW Pct.Last LossLower Level OpponentDivScore
Air Force (CO)MWC1001.000----
Arkansas St.Sun Belt4100.8001992Troy (AL)D27-41
Ball St. (IN)MAC1001.000----
Boston College (MA)ACC1001.000----
Bowling Green (OH)MAC1001.000----
Central MichiganMAC2001.000----
Cincinnati (OH)AAC1001.000----
Clemson (SC)ACC1001.000----
Colorado St.MWC2001.000----
Eastern MichiganMAC2200.5001979Akron (OH)D212-24
Florida AtlanticConf. USA1001.000----
Fresno St. (CA)MWC5200.7141979Cal Poly-San Luis ObispoD20-26
Kansas St.Big 123001.000----
Kent St. (OH)MAC0100.0001979Akron (OH)D213-15
Louisiana TechConf. USA1001.000----
Louisiana-LafayetteSun Belt1100.5001997North AlabamaD242-48
Louisiana-MonroeSun Belt2300.4001979Southeastern LouisianaD20-13
Louisville (KY)AAC2001.000----
Miami (OH)MAC0010.500----
Nevada-Las VegasMWC2001.000----
New Mexico St.Ind.2200.5001987Angelo St. (TX)D217-21
Northern IllinoisMAC1001.000----
Oregon St.Pac-121001.000----
San Jose St. (CA)MWC5001.000----
Southern MississippiConf. USA2001.000----
Temple (PA)AAC4001.000----
Texas-El PasoConf. USA3100.7501981Texas A&M-KingsvilleD215-37
Texas-San AntonioConf. USA2001.000----
Western KentuckySun Belt1001.000----
Western MichiganMAC1001.000----
Appalachian St. (NC)z Former FBS4001.000----
Cal St.-Fullertonz Former FBS11200.8461992Cal St.-SacramentoD23-29
Cal St.-Long Beachz Former FBS3100.7501983Eastern WashingtonD217-20
Citadel (SC)z Former FBS10100.9091979Presbyterian (SC)NAIA13-21
Colgate (NY)z Former FBS0200.0001979DelawareD216-24
Drake (IA)z Former FBS4100.8001979Northern MichiganD226-30
East Tennessee St.z Former FBS4200.6671980Wofford (SC)NAIA9-16
Furman (SC)z Former FBS4210.6431979Wofford (SC)NAIA17-27
Illinois St.z Former FBS2700.2221980Western IllinoisD20-27
Indiana St.z Former FBS4001.000----
Lamar (TX)z Former FBS3200.6001981Stephen F. Austin (TX)D210-13
McNeese St. (LA)z Former FBS2001.000----
Pacific (CA)z Former FBS8500.6151991Cal St.-SacramentoD240-43
Southern Illinoisz Former FBS1100.5001979Eastern IllinoisD214-22
Tennessee St.z Former FBS10001.000----
Chattanooga (TN)z Former FBS3001.000----
Villanova (PA)z Former FBS1300.2501979DelawareD220-21
West Texas A&Mz Former FBS1001.000----
Western Carolina (NC)z Former FBS6001.000----
Wichita St. (KS)z Former FBS4100.8001981Northern MichiganD230-32
William & Mary (VA)z Former FBS2100.6671979DelawareD20-40


Additional Notes

  • Since 1978, FBS schools are 153-44-2 (.771) vs. non-Division I schools.
  • Clemson is the only school since 1978, to have ever won a major national championship (1981) and to have played a non-Division I school (1981: Wofford 45-10). Note: Clemson was unranked when they played Wofford.
  • Only six current FBS schools (as I-A/FBS members) have ever lost to a non-Division I school. They are Eastern Michigan, Fresno St., Kent St., Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, and  Texas-El Paso.
  • Illinois St. – as a I-A (FBS) school – lost seven games to non-Division I schools from 1978-1980.  In three of those seven losses they were shutout.
  • The last FBS school to play a non-Division I school was Texas-San Antonio in 2012. The Roadrunners defeated NCAA Div. 2’s Northwestern Oklahoma St. (56-3) and Texas A&M-Commerce (27-16). 
  • In 2007, Western Kentucky defeated West Virginia Tech (NAIA) 87-0. Going back to 1978, that is the greatest margin of victory a FBS school has over a non-Division I school.
  • An AP-ranked team has never played a non-Division 1 school.
  • Nobody from the FBS has ever lost to a Division III school. However, then Div. III Dayton tied Miami (OH) 10-10 in 1978.
  • East Tennessee St. is the last I-A (FBS) school to have lost to a NAIA school. They lost to Wofford 16-9 in 1980.
  • Delaware – as a Div. II school from 1978-1979 – collected five wins against I-A (FBS) opponents. The most ever by a non-Division I school against FBS (I-A) opponents… Delaware also owns the greatest margin of victory by a non-Division I school over a I-A (FBS) opponent. In 1979, they defeated William & Mary 40-0.


The list below shows the games where a then non-Division I school defeated or tied a FBS opponent.

Non-Division I Schools Defeating FBS (I-A) Opponents (Since 1978)

YearLower Level SchoolDivFBS OpponentConferenceScore
1978Cal Poly-San Luis ObispoD2atFresno St. (CA)Big WestW 24-12
1978Cal Poly-San Luis ObispoD2vsCal St.-FullertonBig WestW 41-27
1978California-DavisD2atPacific (CA)Big WestW 31-14
1978Dayton (OH)D3vsMiami (OH)MACT 10-10
1978DelawareD2vsColgate (NY)Ind.W 38-29
1978DelawareD2vsVillanova (PA)Ind.W 23-22
1978Eastern IllinoisD2vsIllinois St.Ind.W 42-7
1978Mississippi CollegeD2atEast Tennessee St.OVCW 17-3
1978Northern MichiganD2vsEastern MichiganMACW 30-3
1978Southeastern LouisianaD2atLouisiana-MonroeInd.W 25-21
1978Western IllinoisD2vsIllinois St.Ind.W 26-20
1979Akron (OH)D2atEastern MichiganMACW 24-12
1979Akron (OH)D2vsKent St. (OH)MACW 15-13
1979Cal Poly-San Luis ObispoD2vsFresno St. (CA)Big WestW 26-0
1979DelawareD2atColgate (NY)Ind.W 24-16
1979DelawareD2atVillanova (PA)Ind.W 21-20
1979DelawareD2vsWilliam & Mary (VA)Ind.W 40-0
1979Eastern IllinoisD2atIllinois St.Ind.W 24-0
1979Eastern IllinoisD2atSouthern IllinoisMVCW 22-14
1979Nicholls St. (LA)D2atLouisiana-MonroeInd.W 23-16
1979North DakotaD2vsIllinois St.Ind.W 20-0
1979Northern MichiganD2atDrake (IA)MVCW 30-26
1979Presbyterian (SC)NAIAatFurman (SC)SouthernW 17-10
1979Presbyterian (SC)NAIAvsCitadel (SC)SouthernW 21-13
1979Southeastern LouisianaD2vsLouisiana-MonroeInd.W 13-0
1979Wofford (SC)NAIAvsFurman (SC)SouthernW 27-17
1979Youngstown St. (OH)D2atVillanova (PA)Ind.W 27-22
1979Youngstown St. (OH)D2atIllinois St.Ind.W 33-27
1980Eastern IllinoisD2vsIllinois St.Ind.W 31-14
1980Western IllinoisD2vsIllinois St.Ind.W 27-0
1980Wofford (SC)NAIAatEast Tennessee St.SouthernW 16-9
1980Wofford (SC)NAIAatFurman (SC)SouthernT 14-14
1981Northern MichiganD2atWichita St. (KS)MVCW 32-30
1981Stephen F. Austin (TX)D2atLamar (TX)SouthlandW 13-10
1981Texas A&M-KingsvilleD2atTexas-El PasoWACW 37-15
1981Texas St.D2atLamar (TX)SouthlandW 24-7
1982California-DavisD2atPacific (CA)Big WestW 23-22
1983Eastern WashingtonD2atCal St.-Long BeachBig WestW 20-17
1986Angelo St. (TX)D2atNew Mexico St.Big WestW 20-14
1986California-DavisD2atPacific (CA)Big WestW 45-41
1987Angelo St. (TX)D2atNew Mexico St.Big WestW 21-17
1988Cal St.-SacramentoD2atPacific (CA)Big WestW 30-21
1991Cal St.-SacramentoD2atPacific (CA)Big WestW 43-40
1992Cal St.-SacramentoD2atCal St.-FullertonBig WestW 29-3
1992Troy (AL)D2atArkansas St.Ind.W 41-7
1997North AlabamaD2atLouisiana-LafayetteInd.W 48-42


References: Game scores and non-Division I classification information were retrieved from College Football Data Warehouse.


  28 Responses to “History of FBS (I-A) vs. NCAA Division II/III & NAIA”

  1. Andrew…

    Awesome research and information.

    How about the following Consensus No.1s playing teams that were in 1AA during the season the game was played?

    1981 Clemson Wofford 45 10
    1990 Georgia Tech Tennessee-Chattanooga 44 9
    1996 Florida Georgia Southern 62 14
    2003 LSU Western Illinois 35 7
    2006 Florida Western Carolina 62 0
    2009 Alabama Tennessee-Chattanooga 45 0
    2010 Auburn Tennessee-Chattanooga 62 24

  2. Great list! Thanks for the addition Tex. Down the road I might add a list of FCS/I-AA NCs that played FBS/I-A opponents.

  3. Might want to add Washington losing to Hawaii (D-II at the time) in 1973. Hawaii won 10-7
    Hawai also had wins over UNLV (31-29) and Fresno State (13-10)that season
    Hawaii (D-II at the time) beat San Jose State in 1972, 28-7
    Also Stanford Cardinal lost to UC-Davis Aggies (D-II at the time) in 2005. Lost 20-17. UC Davis scored a TD in the last seconds of the game.

    Also Minnesota Gophers losing to North Dakota State Bisons (D-II at the time) in 2007, 21-17. ND State also beat Central Michigan Chippewas that season, 44-14. ND State nearly beat Minny the prio season as well, lost 10-9 (Minny blocked a last second FG at the end of the game).

    New Mexico State Aggies lost to the D-II Angelo State Rams in back to back seasons. 1986 NMSU lost 20-14 and 1987 NMSU lost
    I could have sworn Oregon was ranked (I could be wrong, though) in 1994 (Rose Bowl season) when they played Portland State (D-II at the time). It was a close game at the half, the Ducks coaches were steamed, lol. The Ducks went on to blow out the Vikings in the 2nd half.

    The SW Louisiana (La-Lafayette) loss to D-II powerhouse, North Alabama Lions (who have won several D-II championships during the the ’80s and ’90s) in 4OT in 1997 was interesting. The Ragin Cajuns had upset Texas A&M the season prior. NFLers Jake Delhomme(QB) and Brandon Stokely(WR) were on those teams. The 5-6 season (1996) were they beat Texas A&M was supposed to carry momentum into the next season. It didn’t, they finished 1-10 and loss to a D-II (UNA Lions) team at home. La-Lafayette won a couple of Big West conference titles in the early ’90s.
    UNA Lions has had a couple of losing seasons during the ’00s, so they aren’t as bug a powerhouse as they used to.

  4. Meant to say NMSU lost to Angelo State (TX) in 1987 as well, 21-17.

    This is an interesting set of data that you posted though.

  5. Those Hawaii games aren’t listed because I only included games played since 1978; the year the NCAA split Div. 1 into two divisions. In the future I’ll add lower division upsets pre-1978. FYI – The NCAA’s classifications pre-1978 are kind of messed up and/or even listed incorrectly in their own record book. So I’ll probably just classify such upsets as major vs. non-major. But that’s another project.

    UC-Davis’ upset over Stanford is included in my FBS vs. FCS tally. UC-Davis was transitioning to Div. 1-AA at the time. NDST was also transitioning to Div. 1-AA when they upset Minnesota in 2007. I guess whether they were Div. 2 or I-AA is up for debate though. You can go either way with the transition periods and not be wrong. It’s a tricky thing to address for a researcher.

    I doubled checked, and I had Angelo State’s upsets over New Mexico St. listed. Oregon opened the ’94 season against Portland St. unranked. I remember that I was stunned by Oregon’s rise to the Rose Bowl that season.

    Thanks for the additional background on the ULL-North Alabama game in ’97. I didn’t know that the game went into 4 OTs.

  6. Jbezo…Good info that you posted–and well researched!

    FYI…North Alabama has only won 3 NCAA II National Champions:
    -1993 North Alabama
    -1994 North Alabama
    -1995 North Alabama

  7. Andrew…thanks for the update of your awesome work. I think it is awesome when a lower level team defeated a high ranked team (less they defeated my team. lol)!

    This will be outstanding info to have as a reference.

  8. Ah, gotcha!!

    Yes, Oregon football program kinda jumpstarted in ’94. That Rose Bowl year was kind of a shocker. Just like Wisconsin Rose Bowl year the prior season. Funny how both of them and VT and Kansas State started to become elite programs around those years. Amazing!

    As for the background of the ULL-UNA game that went 4 overtimes ’97. No problem. I live in south Texas (near San Antonio) and there are tons of Texas A&M Aggie fans/alumni in the area. I remember ULL lost it was mentioned briefly on SportsCenter and the College Football postgame show that ESPN has. Of coarse, it was was mentioned in the local papers around south Texas. Lot of TAMU Aggies fans/alumni around here were a lil embarrassed about losing to ULL the previous season. Then for ULL to lose to a D-II school the next season. LOL

  9. Temple Owls ended up hiring that coach from North Alabama, Bobby Wallace. Didn’t have much success at Temple, but his UNA team beat La-Lafayette (’97), but his Temple team (’98) in his first season upset a highly ranked Virginia Tech team (#9, 5-0) on the road. Temple was 0-6 at the time. He coached at Temple til 2005 and now is back at UNA after Tommy Bowden left for Akron job.

    Wallace has had some nice upsets over the years. LOL

  10. Thanks for the compliments. :)

    Also, thanks for the info on UNA’s D-II NCs, for some reason I thought they won some during the ’80s, just checked and saw that they were on the losing end at the time (’85).

  11. Can you tell me the last fbs football conference and the year that it ceased to exist before this past year? If not, where can I go to ask or find out?

  12. The Western Athletic Conference is no longer, but before them the Big West was the last conference to give up FBS (then the I-A) football, that was after the 2000 season.

  13. Grand View University (NAIA) defeated Drake University (FCS-D1AA) on August 29, 2013 by the score of 21-16. Grand View is a top notch NAIA football program in Des Moines, Iowa

  14. CSU-Pueblo (Div. 2) also defeated Northern Colorado (FCS) this past weekend.

    One day I would like to publish a list of every game in which a FCS (I-AA) program lost to a lower-level opponent.

  15. I remember one year where Texas Tech lost to Colorado who lost to Montana St who lost to Chadron. Might be 2006. During the Mike Leach, Dan Hawkins and Danny Woodhead eras.

  16. Also it seems that Abilene Christian has lost to Tarleton St and Pittsburg St this year.

  17. Also Mcmurry defeated UTSA in their 1st year. Maybe 2010. That’s a d3 over D1.

  18. I am waiting Andrew….when a 1AA/CSD team lost to a lower-level opponent. :)

  19. Thanks for bringing up these games, but they’re not listed because this post just focuses on Div. 1 FBS vs. NCAA II/III & NAIA. The games you mention include Div. 1 FCS teams. As Tex mentioned, I have to compile a list of games when FCS/1-AA teams lost to the lower-level teams. Believe it or not, such upsets aren’t uncommon.

  20. I guess my confusion was your inclusion of MVC and southland conferences as full dI conferences. The southland has never had that stature and I’m pretty sure the MVC hasn’t either.

  21. Although I may see the problem as MVC post Big 8 was mixed. Drake was D1 however.

  22. You’re right it is confusing. Some of the teams in those conferences were considered Div. 1-A programs, while others weren’t. I guess back then the NCAA only classified their conferences by division and not subdivision.

  23. The Missouri Valley Conference was a Major College Conference from its founding in 1928-1985. I attended West Texas State for the 1982-83 school year (1982 football season).

    Some of the schools were in 1A at this time; WTSU played as a 1AA team. It’s original name was the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

    In the early years, a number of its teams broke-away and become the Big Six Conference–front runner of the Big 7-8 Conferences.

    The Southland Conference was a NCAA 1-A league 1975-79; after that, they played in NCAA 1-AA (now CSD.)

  24. Like you’re site, I got interested in reviewing pass FBS (1A) upset losses to lower divisions after this past weekends Florida loss to Georgia Southern.

    Only One comment, in your additional notes you said:

    •Clemson is the only school since 1978, to have ever won a major national championship (1981) and to have played a non-Division I school (1981: Wofford 45-10).

    followed by:

    •No school ranked in the weekly AP Poll has ever played a non-Division I school.

    One of those statements appears to be wrong.

  25. Keith Davis…

    Here’s a list of Major College National Champions that played a lower division team; and includes games won or lost.

    #1 teams 1936-2012, the “official AP-era.”

    Some of the teams listed are on Andrew’s list; since he counted such games since 1978–the split from 1A to 1AA.

    My list includes non-major games vs Major College/1A/BSD National Champions.

    *1937 Pittsburgh Ohio Wesleyan (not MC) 59 0
    *1942 Ohio State Fort Knox (not MC) 59 0
    *1942 Ohio State Iowa Pre-Flight (non-MC) 41 12
    *1943 Notre Dame Great Lakes Navy (non MC) 14 19
    *1943 Notre Dame Iowa Pre-Flight (non MC) 14 13
    *1944 Army Coast Guard (not MC) 76 0
    *1945 Army Louisville Field (not MC) 32 0
    *1945 Army Melville PT Boats (not MC) 55 13
    *1951 Tennessee Tennessee Tech (not MC) 68 0
    *1951 Tennessee Tennessee-Chattanooga (not MC) 42 13
    *1954 UCLA San Diego Navy (not MC) 67 0
    *1957 Auburn Tennessee-Chattanooga (not MC) 40 7
    *1960 Mississippi Tennessee-Chattanooga (not MC) 45 0
    *1979 Alabama Tennessee-Chattanooga (non-IA) 45 0
    *1990 Georgia Tech Tennessee-Chattanooga (not MC) 44 9
    *1990 Georgia Tech Tennessee-Chattanooga (not MC) 44 9
    *1996 Florida Georgia Southern (not MC) 62 14
    *2006 Florida Western Carolina (not MC) 62 0
    *2009 Alabama Tennessee-Chattanooga (non-IA) 45 0
    *2010 Auburn Tennessee-Chattanooga (non-IA) 62 24
    *2011 Alabama Georgia Southern (non-IA) 45 21
    *2012 Alabama Western Carolina (non-IA) 49 0

  26. I’m glad you like the site Keith.

    Clemson was unranked when they played Wofford in 1981, but at the end of the season they were ranked No. 1 and captured the national championship.

    It’s kind of confusing, so I added an additional note in that section to clear the riddle.

  27. Great list Tex! It would be interesting to one day try to determine whether a team – before the split in 1978 – would’ve been in the FBS, FCS, or a lower-level division (D2, D3…)

    What pops out to me is how many times Chattanooga has played the eventual national champion – even dating back to the 1950s.

  28. Thank you Andrew. It would be interesting. I would say teams from 1979-2012 would be equivalent 1AA; with 1951-57 as Small College; 1960 as College Division. The others were Military Installations, so I would say non-college teams.

    In my listing of small colleges: 1948 (1st year for small college stats) through 1957, there was no actual name, I call this era Small College. In 1958 was the first year for a College Division National Champion was named…through the 1972 season (prior to the NCAA creating NCAA II and NCAA III). IMO, 1958-72 were College Division.

    The first NAIA Stats were released in 1952; with its first National Championship awarded in 1956…and their first playoff game was in 1957.

    Like anyone working with college football, this is how I see it.

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