Eight FCS teams to open 2019 season this week
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - A week or two later than most Division I teams, eight FCS programs will kick off their season this week.
None is playing an opponent with a win, but some still face difficult opening assignments.
Among those seeking to make a strong first impression is Long Island University, which will play its inaugural FCS game at third-ranked South Dakota State. The Sharks were 30-4 over their final three seasons in Division II, but they will swim in troubled water against a Jackrabbits squad (0-1) that led Big Ten member Minnesota midway through the fourth quarter last Thursday night.
"When we returned to the Northeast-10, we had some very fine teams that played against the FCS teams previously, and we've also been fortunate enough to make the NCAA playoffs and see some of the top Division II teams in the country," said Bryan Collins, who begins his 22nd season with a program that previously was LIU-Post. The Sharks have a 10-game schedule in their FCS debut.
"In terms of competition, I think we're pretty equal (in FCS)," Collins added, "but I think the consistency and the depth might be a little bit different. Division II, some of your starters go down, you have some issues, where as hopefully in the FCS you have some depth to work with."
LIU's fellow Northeast Conference member Duquesne will host Division II Walsh in its first game. Behind All-America running back A.J. Hines, the Dukes earned their first FCS playoff win last season, beating CAA member Towson.
One of the traditional CAA powers, New Hampshire, opens at Holy Cross (0-1). Interim coach Ricky Santos will lead the Wildcats into action after 21st-year coach Sean McDonnell recently took an indefinite leave of absence for medical reasons.
Big South member Presbyterian will open at Mercer (0-1) after the Blue Hose's scheduled game at Stetson last Saturday was canceled due to the approach of Hurricane Dorian.
Stetson also will get started by hosting Division III Louisiana College. Meanwhile, two of its fellow Pioneer Football League members will play for the first time - Dayton at Indiana State (0-1) and Marist at Georgetown (0-1).
Big Sky member Idaho State will kick off its season Thursday night against Division II Western Colorado. The Bengals are 21-1 against non-D-I teams since 1999.
After Saturday's action, all FCS teams will have started their season except for the eight in the Ivy League. They will play a 10-game season beginning Sept. 21.
Updated September 6, 2019