2023 FCS Versus FBS Matchups in Review: FCS Conference Comparison

Welcome to part two of the 2023 FCS Versus FBS Matchups in review. While the first part looked at all 118 games broken down by each statistical category, this review will look at each FCS conference using the same categories. The review only includes conferences that had at least one FCS-FBS matchup in 2023. The charts presented below will have the same color scheme with FCS teams in orange and FBS teams in blue. Different categories can be selected at the top of the chart and are sorted based on the conference name in alphabetical order with the season average for all 118 games at the bottom of the list.

Weekly Records

Below is a table that shows how each FCS conference performed against FBS foes. The total number of matchups, conference records, and weekly records are provided.

ConferenceGames2023 RecordWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 10Week 11Week 12
Big Sky132-110-31-51-30-00-00-00-00-00-0
Big South-OVC100-100-60-30-00-10-00-00-00-00-0
Ivy League00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-0
Patriot League61-50-21-20-00-00-00-00-00-10-0
United Athletic120-120-40-30-10-00-20-00-00-00-2


Below is a chart for each statistical category: points, total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, completion percentage, yards per carry, turnovers, first downs, penalty yards, and third down conversion percentage. The graphic below will show only one category at a time and is sorted by each FCS conference alphabetically (the number of FCS-FBS games played in 2023 is shown in parentheses). In addition, you can choose to select only the FBS values, FCS values, or both with FBS in blue and FCS in orange. Hovering over a bar will give more info, which can be useful if the FBS or FCS data series is selected by itself. Two conferences – the Ivy League and Pioneer Football League – did not have any FCS-FBS matchups in 2023.

Which FCS Conference Performed the Best?

While giving that data might be interesting, you are probably wondering: which FCS conference, on average, was the best against the FBS in 2023 so let’s crown a mythical FCS Versus FBS Conference Champion for 2023. Drumroll please…

The United Athletic Conference is crowned the inaugural FCS Versus FBS Conference Champion presented by Fear The FCS. It’s about to get really nerdy because we dive into the two methodologies that were tested and ultimately led to the UAC winning this “championship”.

The simplest way to determine the “best” FCS conference against FBS opponents is to average all the games played by a conference and then subtract the FBS average from the FCS average for each statistical category. The next step is to rank each conference from best performance to worst performance in each category followed by assigning a numerical value based on the rankings (i.e. the best conference gets 1 point, the 2nd best gets 2 points, etc. all the way down to 12 for the worst performing conference ). Finally, all the values are added up and the conference with the fewest points is crowned the mythical champion. Under this scenario, the UAC won by a single point over the CAA, 36 to 37.

The other method used was taking the average of all games of each category for the FBS and FCS individually using the same ranking structure. For example, we ranked the FBS points scored from least to most, and the conference that gave up the fewest points to the FBS (FCS independents in 2023) received one point down to the FCS conference that allowed the most points (the SWAC, which received 12 points). We then took the FCS numbers and did the opposite: the conference that had the highest average was given 1 point and the conference with the lowest average was given 12. Once again, the team with the fewest points is the “champion”.

In the second method, the UAC won again (78 to 87) but the Patriot League was the runner-up while the CAA dropped to fourth. It should be pointed out that the total yards metric was dropped from both methods because it would have been counted twice with passing yards and rushing yards already measured as separate categories. There is a valid reason for using the second method and that would be if someone wanted to weigh a specific category higher than others (no weighting was applied for this basic ranking – all categories were treated equally).

Congrats to the United Athletic Conference for being the 2023 FCS Versus FBS Conference Champion presented by Fear The FCS. Never mind the glaring flaw of a small sample size for each conference or the fact that the sample wasn’t representative of each conference’s membership (some conferences’ best teams played against the FBS while other conferences’ best teams did not) among the other issues with these rankings. Nor do the rankings give additional credit to teams/conferences that won an FCS-FBS matchup. The final rankings for each method and composite rankings are provided in the tables below.

Conference (Games)Method 1: DifferencesConference (Games)Method 2: Separate Categories
United Athletic (12)36United Athletic (12)78
CAA (15)37Patriot League (6)87
Big Sky (13)45FCS Independents (1)93
Patriot League (6)45CAA (15)95
Southland Conference (11)49Southland Conference (11)96
MEAC (9)55Big Sky (13)99
FCS Independents (1)60MEAC (9)108
NEC (10)66MVFC (11)135
MVFC (11)69NEC (10)143
Big South-OVC (10)75Big South-OVC (10)150
Southern Conference (9)78SWAC (11)152
SWAC (11)87Southern Conference (9)168
Conference (Games)Method 1 RankingMethod 2 RankingsRanking Average
Big Sky (13)364.5
Big South-OVC (10)101010
CAA (15)243
FCS Independents (1)735
MEAC (9)676.5
MVFC (11)988.5
NEC (10)898.5
Patriot League (6)423
Southern Conference (9)111211.5
Southland Conference (11)555
SWAC (11)121111.5
United Athletic (12)111

Photo Credit to Austin Peay State University Athletics

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