College football starts off the same way every season: Most big NCAA football programs play smaller schools and cruise to a commanding victory. Oregon State and the University of Colorado are no exceptions to this rule. During the past decade, the two teams have hosted schools with smaller football programs like Eastern Washington University, Portland State and Montana State.
But what happens if it all backfires? What if the small school wins?
Big schools schedule and actually pay these smaller Football Championship Subdivision programs to play on their home field in order to get their seasons started.
But Sacramento State, which has been a part of the FCS since 1996, showed that no team should be taken for granted as the Hornets defeated both Oregon State and Colorado two seasons in a row.
Although the win will not count towards making the playoffs, their players can stand in the limelight and now tell their friends they were on one of the top plays shown on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Big schools have more to lose, so they should take into consideration the skills these smaller schools have to offer and think twice about who they schedule.
Oregon State never recovered from its loss last season. In 2011, the Beavers lost their next two games and only finished with three wins all year.
It’s unclear whether Colorado is traveling down the same path. The Buffaloes have already lost their first two games.
Losing a game to a smaller school would hurt even more if that team is nationally ranked.
This past weekend, No. 8 Arkansas also suffered a loss to Louisiana Monroe. Even if they remain undefeated for the rest of the season, that loss will affect their shot at the national championship.
However, risks can lead to rewards. Programs that schedule these FCS teams help to create team chemistry for bigger games later on during the season and give the university opportunities to make more money.
Although Colorado paid $460,000 for Sac State to travel to Boulder, the university most certainly made a profit from ticket sales, concessions and souvenirs from the 46,843 fans that attended the game.
The Hornets are not an FCS power by any means, nor are they picked to finish in the top eight teams in the Big Sky Conference, but they did gain some experience and confidence to start the season.
To most college students, their memories might consist of joining a fraternity or pulling all night study sessions, but to the football players on the 2011 and 2012 football teams, their memories will be of knocking off a Pac-12 school.
Ryan Kuhn can be reached at @rskuhn