What does “FBS” Mean in College Football? Is “FCS” worse or better?

jacksonville state fcs what is fcs
FCS Jacksonville State upsets FBS Florida State

The college football landscape is confusing, certainly much more complicated than its professional counterpart, the NFL. So, when you hear terms like “FBS” and “FCS” thrown around while watching college football, it’s easy to get confused. Here’s a brief explanation of what exactly “FBS” and “FCS” mean in College Football.

FBS stands for “Football Bowl Subdivision”. The reason it’s called a subdivision is because both FBS and FCS are technically Division 1 football – but, “FBS” is the more competitive level. The primary difference between FBS and FCS Football is how the championship is played.

FBS Football has bowl games (hence, “Bowl Subdivision”). In the current version of this format, 2 of the New Years Six Bowls (rotating) are semifinal games between the top 4 college football teams, and then the two winners of those championship games go on to play the championship game, run by ESPN.

Appalachian State, at the time, a subdivision 1-AA team, upsets Michigan, a subdivision 1-A team
Appalachian State, at the time, a subdivision 1-AA team, upsets Michigan, a 1-A team

FCS stands for “Football Championship Subdivision”. In FCS Football, the top 24 FCS Subdivision teams play in a bracket style tournament for the NCAA Championship trophy.

Fun fact – this is the highest level college football championship awarded by the NCAA itself. The ESPN College Football Championship Game is what is almost always used to designate the NCAA champion, but there are technically other championship selectors that could make multiple different teams count as National Champions. For an example of this, see UCF in 2017, in which they were awarded National Champions by the Colley Matrix, even though Alabama won the National Championship game – most everyone refers to Alabama as the champions that year, but UCF technically has a rightful claim.

Another significant difference between the two subdivision is that FBS teams can award 85 football scholarships while FCS teams can only award 63. This contributes to FBS college football teams having an elevated standard of play, but the main driver between the increased competitive level of these schools is that the best conferences in the country form the Football Bowl Subdivision.

north dakota state what is fcs football
North Dakota State, perennial FCS Champions

The subdivision split traces its roots to 1978, when Division 1 football was split into two subdivisions, 1-A and 1-AA. The main driver of this split was that the smaller D1 schools couldn’t keep up with the largely developed football programs of the largest D1 schools. This is similar to “mid majors” vs Power Conference basketball teams in College Basketball. In 2006, these two subdivisions were given the FBS and FCS names they hold today.

Though FBS is technically the higher level of play, FCS football is spectacular to watch. The large tournament system for the championship is extremely exciting and may even reflect the future state of the FBS playoff. Here at CFB Select, we love college football of all kinds – bookmark our site and follow us at @CFBSelect on Twitter if you do too!

FCS Kickoff Game Preview: Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas

Austin Peay, Central Arkansas to play in 2020 FCS Kickoff

By @Sidelines_BYU

MATCHUP: Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas

WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL

FIELD SURFACE: UBU Speed S5 Synthetic Turf

WHEN: Saturday, August 29th

TIME: 9:00pm EST

TV: ESPN (Matt Barrie and Mike Golic, Jr in Bristol, CT, Lauren Sisler on site)

STREAMING: ESPN App

Austin Peay Radio: Governors Sports Network (Brian Rives and Van Stokes)

Central Arkansas Radio: UCA Radio Network (Justin Acri, Chris Kane, RJ Hawk)

WEATHER: Cloudy with a chance of a stray shower or thunderstorm. Low 76. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 miles per hour. Chance of rain 20%

ODDS

Central Arkansas: -4.5 -200 ML

Austin Peay: +4.5 +157 ML

Over/Under: 44.5

ALL TIME RECORD: 2-0 (both meetings were won by Central Arkansas)

LAST MEETING: 9/17/19 (Central Arkansas won 24-16)

WHAT TO KNOW:

Austin Peay: History will be on the line, as a victory will give the Gov’s their 300th win in program history. They enter the game ranked 13th (STATS FCS). In addition, this will be the first game for interim head coach Marquase Lovings Howard, who was named interim coach on July 7th. He was the DL coach for team last season. Austin Peay returns 14 starters from last year. In addition, this will be the first neutral site game for the Gov’s since 1952!

Central Arkansas: UCA is just 7-7 in season openers since moving up to D1, but 2-0 all time against Austin Peay.  The Bears are also ranked 11th in the STATS FCS rankings. UCA returns 17 starters from last season.

NICK’S FORECAST: Originally this game was going to be played in Conway, Arkansas, but the game was moved to Montgomery. With not every FCS conference planning on playing football in the spring, this is a great opportunity to see two top FCS teams in the lone Week 0 game that will hopefully draw some good ratings.

Austin Peay should be the stronger team on the field, and I do think this will be a close, low scoring game, but I feel Central Arkansas has enough to pull it off at the end. They are my pick to win the first college football game of the 2020 season!

NICK’S PICK: Central Arkansas

NICK’S BEST BET: Under 44

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