College Football’s 2016 Sacrificial Lambs

By Amy Daughters -

While some non-Power programs have a realistic shot of upsetting a big-time school (think Boise State and UCF), others don’t have a fighting chance.

It’s a statistical fact that makes big-school vs. small-school match-ups a win-win only in the sense that the big dog gets awarded an almost automatic victory, while the little dog gets to cash a huge paycheck.

It is the nature of big-time college football.

The following list highlights 11 little (or littler) guys that won’t just roll into town to get slaughtered in front of a hungry crowd once this season, they’ll do it at least twice.

Appalachian State

2016 Non-Conference Schedule: at Tennessee, Old Dominion, Miami (Fla.), at Akron

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Sept. 1, 2007 at Michigan (34-32)

App State draws both an SEC and ACC foe in 2016, the first time it’s played two Power foes since it moved up into the FBS in 2014.

The Mountaineers are 1-13 all-time vs. the current SEC, the only win coming via a 39-34 triumph at South Carolina in 1975. They are 7-30-1 vs. the current ACC, all seven wins over Wake Forest, the most recent a 20-16 victory in 2000.

East Carolina

2016 Non-Conference Schedule: Western Carolina, NC State, at South Carolina, at Virginia Tech

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Sept. 26, 2015 vs. Virginia Tech (35-28)

One of only three schools on our list to have three Power opponents in 2016, East Carolina is set to face two ACC members and a SEC team.

Though the Pirates have scored back-to-back wins vs. Virginia Tech, it lost 10 of the previous 11 meetings with the Hokies and is 43-81-1 (33.9%) all-time vs. the current ACC. They are 6-27 (18.1%) vs. the current SEC, five of those wins coming against South Carolina from 1991-99.

ECU hasn’t beaten a SEC team since Sept. 18, 1999 when it sunk the Gamecocks 21-3 in Columbia.

Florida Atlantic

2016 Non-Conference Schedule: Southern Illinois, at Miami (Fla.), at Kansas State, Ball State

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Sept. 15, 2007 vs. Minnesota (42-39)

FAU’s win over Minnesota in 2007 also marks the only time in program-history it has ever beaten a Power program. The Owls are 0-4 all-time vs. the current ACC, 0-7 vs. the Big 12, 1-7 vs. the Big Ten, and 0-11 vs. the SEC. They have never played a Pac-12 school.

Keep in mind that FAU didn’t field a football team until 2001.

Georgia Southern

2016 Non-Conference Schedule: Savannah State, at Western Michigan, at Georgia Tech, at Ole Miss

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Nov. 23, 2013 at Florida (26-20)

Another relative newcomer, Georgia Southern didn’t move up to the FBS ranks until 2014 when it joined the Sun Belt. Like FAU, the Eagles’ last win over a Power team (the 2013 upset at Florida) was also their only-ever victory over a Power opponent.

All-time, Georgia Southern is 0-10 vs. the current ACC, 0-1 vs. the Big 12, 0-1 vs. the Pac-12 and 1-10 vs. the SEC. It has never squared off with a Big Ten program.


2016 Non-Conference Schedule: Cal (at Sydney, Australia), at Michigan, UT Martin, at Arizona, UMass

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Sept. 3, 2011 vs. Colorado (34-17)

The second of the three teams with a trio of Power opponents in 2016, Hawaii is a combined 1-5 all-time vs. Cal, Michigan, and Arizona. The only win came in 1994, a 21-7 triumph over the Golden Bears in Berkeley.

The Warriors are 30-58 (34%) all-time vs. the current Pac-12 and 9-23 vs. the Big Ten (28%).

Kent State

2016 Non-Conference Schedule: at Penn State, North Carolina AT&T, Monmouth, at Alabama

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Aug. 30, 2007 at Iowa State (23-14)

Kent State is 1-16 all-time vs. the current Big Ten. The only win came in 2012 at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights were still Big East members at the time. That means it has never beaten a Big Ten school that was a conference member at the time the game was played.

The Golden Flashes are 0-12 all-time vs. the current SEC, the bulk of that a 0-7 mark vs. Kentucky.


2016 Non-Conference Schedule: Southern, at Oklahoma, at Auburn, at New Mexico

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: August 28, 2014 vs. Wake Forest (17-10)

ULM was equally as ambitious in 2015, playing at Georgia and at Alabama during the first three weeks of a season that ended with a 2-11 mark.

The Warhawks have never beaten a current Big 12 member (0-12) and are 4-45-1 vs. the current SEC. The most recent victory over an SEC squad came in 2012, a 34-31 shocker over No. 8 Arkansas in Little Rock.


2016 Non-Conference Schedule: at Army, Baylor, Prairie View A&M, at Stanford

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Sept. 14, 2013 vs. Kansas (23-14)

Though it’s no surprise that Rice has its 81st all-time meeting scheduled with Baylor (an old Southwest Conference chum) it hasn’t faced Stanford since 1964.

The Owls are 112-203-8 (35.9%) vs. the current Big 12 and 12-11-2 (52%) vs. the Pac-12. They played UCLA as recently as 2005-06 & 2012 (all losses) and Utah in 1996-97 (1-1), but before that hadn’t squared off with a Pac-12 team since beating Cal in 1970.


2016 Non-Conference Schedule: at North Texas, at Baylor, Liberty, TCU

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Jan. 7, 2012 vs. Pitt (28-6, BBVA Compass Bowl)

Doubling-up on what Rice has in 2016, SMU is set to play two old Southwest Conference foes. The Mustangs have dropped 12 straight to Baylor, last winning in 1986 and has won only twice in their last 16 tries vs. TCU.

SMU is 125-178-21 (41.8%) all-time against the current Big 12, but hasn’t beaten a member of the conference since 2000 when it beat Kansas 31-17 in Dallas.

South Alabama

2016 Non-Conference Schedule: at Mississippi State, Nicholls State, San Diego State, at LSU

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Never.

Another start-up program, South Alabama didn’t begin competing in football until 2009. That explains why it has only played a grand total of seven all-time games vs. Power programs.

The Jaguars are 0-3 vs. the current ACC, 0-1 vs. the Big Ten and 0-4 vs. the SEC. They have never squared off with a Big 12 or Pac-12 member.


2016 Non-Conference Schedule: Maine, Virginia, Syracuse, at Boston College

Most Recent Win over a Power Opponent: Sept. 15, 2012 at Maryland (24-21)

The third of the three teams with a trio of Power opponents outside of league play, UConn is hardly a patsy. That said, the Huskies are 19-37-2 (34.5%) vs. the current ACC, the home of all three of its 2016 version of Murder’s Row.

UConn is 1-1 all-time vs. Virginia, splitting games in 2007 and 2008. The Huskies played Syracuse nine times from 2004-12 (both schools were Big East members at the time) and hold a 6-3 advantage. They are 0-4 vs. Boston College, the four losses occurring consecutively from 2000 to 2004 (only the 2004 game was played with both schools were Big East members).

Comments (19)

I understand the record that E.Carolina holds but not sure if they should be under the slaughtered window, they are pretty good team that lost some close games last year & I could see them beating two out of three P5 they play this year. Not sure if Uconn will be getting slaughtered by Virginia, Cuse or BC either, Huskies might as well join the ACC if there going to play three teams OOC.

I wouldn’t be surprised if UConn swept its non-American slate because all of them fall into the winnable category. As long as the Huskies do that, they won’t have to do much in American play to snag a bowl bid.

Did you mean USF or are you referring to the 2013 UCF squad? Because let’s not forget they went 0-12 last year.

UCONN plays BC,syracuse, and uva….they could be the favorite in any of those. And calling east carolina a sacrificial lamb is just silly….and dont think it really applies to App.St. or ga.southern either.

I enjoy this website quite a bit, but I have to question the logic behind this article. Was there any research done at all?

ECU’s last five games vs. The ACC: the Pirates have a 5-0 record. They’ve beaten NC State, UNC (twice), and Va. Tech (twice) over the last three seasons. Also, Last season, a mediocre Pirate team only lost by 7 at the Swamp to a much-improved Florida team. I’d hardly call that a slaughter, and Florida was far better than South Carokina last year.

No one should expect the Pirates to be an easy W, and to say they “don’t have a fighting chance” in those games is….. absolutely incorrect! Wow. I can’t believe how annoyed this article makes me.

Also, you do realize UCF is coming off an 0-12 year, right? Seriously.

If I want to see this kind of nonsense, I’ll go to Bleacher Report. FBSchedules, you’re better than this.

I’ll disagree a little, I think the article is looking at the over all record of these teams & what chances do they have to beat P5 on their schedules. I to noticed the E.Carolina & Uconn schools on here & said wait a minute but that the cool thing about the article, you can pick & choose the teams you think should not be on the list, may be UCF does not have a losing record & did not make the list for other reasons. They do play Michigan & Maryland…..well, Michigan anyway, might be a toss up with Maryland.

This is a quote from the story: “The following list highlights 11 little (or littler) guys that won’t just roll into town to get slaughtered in front of a hungry crowd once this season, they’ll do it at least twice.”

It’s not supposed to be about historical records, and use of the word “slaughter” refers to a blowout.

Here’s another gem: “While some non-Power programs have a realistic shot of upsetting a big-time school (think Boise State and UCF), others don’t have a fighting chance.”

UCF, coming off an 0-12 year somehow has a fighting chance, but ECU and UConn do not? I didn’t even talk about UConn, but they’re quite possibly better than ALL FOUR of their non-conference opponents. Sorry, but this article lacks true research and is obviously written with a ridiculous P5 bias.

Georgia Southern returns the majority their offense and defense from a team that finished 9-4 and absolutely manhandled the 2015 MAC Champions (Bowling Green) in the GoDaddy Bowl. The Eagles are only going to be better in 2016 with added depth all around and a talented (albeit young) secondary that should contribute early. I’ll admit Ole Miss will be a tall order but Georgia Tech isn’t even our third toughest game this season. The first ever match-up between Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech occurred just two seasons ago (2014) where GS held a 3 point lead going into the last 30 seconds of the game…the ACC refs made sure GS didn’t leave with a deserved victory against the eventual Orange Bowl Champions. Fast forward a year later and Georgia Tech finishes 3-9…but wait, they’re Power 5! In summary, it appears the writer scanned the non-Power 5 landscape and circled each one that plays multiple Power 5 teams and slapped a blurb together. Not a lot of research done here.

I concur. That was most likely the strategy for determining who to put on this list. Georgia Southern and App State are not chumps, and there are a number of Sun Belt, MAC, and CUSA teams that are far more deserving to be on this list.

Don’t forget Georgia Southern against NC State in their first game at the FBS level. The Eagles led the entire game until the last drive. Also they took Georgia to overtime in Athens. They are far from sacrificial lambs. More like the little kid who blacked the bully’s eye on the playground.

Calling UConn and ECU “sacrificial lambs” against teams they should, and have recently, beat is misguided at best. And those aren’t even paycheck games, given that they’re part of home-and-home agreements.

And might want to check the math on “SMU is 125-178-21 (48.5%)”

I love this site, but this article is really lazy. And don’t give into the power five bias — leave that for