2004 I-AA Season

The 2004 season observed a little bit of everything: teams disbanding, teams entering I-AA, and the creation of a new conference.

2004 I-AA (FCS) Over I-A (FBS) Victories (6)

  1. Florida Atlantic @ Hawaii, 35-28
  2. Florida Atlantic @ North Texas, 20-13
  3. New Hampshire @ Rutgers, 35-24
  4. Florida Atlantic @ Middle Tennessee, 27-20
  5. Maine @ Mississippi State, 9-7
  6. Eastern Illinois @ Eastern Michigan, 31-28

Playoff Bracket, Notes, and National Champion

The I-AA playoff format remained the same for the fourth consecutive season with the seeding of only the top four teams and the use of campus sites through the semifinals. The National Championship was played on December 17 at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the eighth season in a row.

The home team is listed on the bottom of each matchup in the bracket below while an asterisk (*) denotes the number of overtime periods played if a game went to overtime. James Madison (13-2 Overall, 7-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) won their first I-AA/FCS title by defeating Montana (12-3 Overall, 6-1 Big Sky Conference) who made their fourth appearance. The Dukes won 31-21 over the Grizzlies.

Conference Changes

The Great West Conference was started as a football-only conference and helped thin out the number of I-AA independents as well as house some of the newcomers from Division II.

Team Changes

Three teams ended their program after the 2003 season: East Tennessee State from the Southern Conference, Saint Mary’s (CA) as an I-AA independent, and Siena out of the MAAC.

I-AA independents Cal Poly, Northern Colorado, Southern Utah, and UC Davis joined the newly created Great West Conference. They were joined by North Dakota State and South Dakota State who both left the Division II North Central Conference.

Towson left the Patriot League to go to the Atlantic 10 Conference. Florida A&M (MEAC), Florida Atlantic (I-AA independent), and Florida International (I-AA independent) all began a move up to the I-A level and were classified as I-AA independents for the season.

The NCAA does not list North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State, and UC Davis as fully eligible for the 2004 season. Thus, they were not counted as official teams by the NCAA but we do list them since they were all in their transition to I-AA.

Florida A&M actually attempted to move up from I-AA to I-A starting with the 2003 season, but they played a typical I-AA schedule. In 2004, they had a mixed schedule of I-A and I-AA teams as they were set on completing the move. Interestingly, the NCAA Handbook does not have them as leaving I-AA for the 2004 season. The Rattlers present a difficult case as to whether they should be included as I-A or I-AA for 2004 due to the circumstances and abrupt turnaround back to I-AA. We opted to include Florida A&M as I-AA for 2004 because they began the transition process.

Florida Atlantic is another curious case as the NCAA Handbook had its last I-AA season in 2004. However, the NCAA also has FAU listed as in transition from I-AA to I-A on their list of I-AA/FCS upsets. Complicating the issue further is that FAU’s schedule for 2004 had six I-A opponents (up to 8 if you count Florida A&M and Florida International as I-A opponents).

Florida International was in the same boat as FAU. They were in the process of moving up from I-AA to I-A and both were headed for the Sun Belt Conference. FIU played a 10-game schedule with only three I-A teams (5 if you count FAMU and FAU) though the Panthers are listed on the NCAA Handbook through the 2005 season. We chose to include FAU and FIU as I-AA teams along with FAMU.

TeamOld ConferenceNew Conference
Cal PolyI-AA IndependentGreat West (I-AA)
East Tennessee StateSouthern (I-AA)Dropped Football
Florida A&MMEAC (I-AA)I-AA Independent
North Dakota StateNorth Central (Division II)Great West (I-AA)
Northern ColoradoI-AA IndependentGreat West (I-AA)
Saint Mary’s (CA)I-AA IndependentDropped Football
SienaMAAC (I-AA)Dropped Football
South Dakota StateNorth Central (Division II)Great West (I-AA)
Southern UtahI-AA IndependentGreat West (I-AA)
TowsonPatriot League (I-AA)Atlantic 10 (I-AA)
UC DavisI-AA IndependentGreat West (I-AA)

2003 Season ———————————————————————————————————————————————————- 2005 Season