FCS Kickoff
Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff
Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff logo.png
StadiumCramton Bowl (2017–present)
LocationMontgomery, Alabama
Previous stadiumsCampus sites (2014–2016)
Operated2014–present
Sponsors
Guardian Credit Union (2017–present)
2020 matchup
Central Arkansas 24, Austin Peay 17

The FCS Kickoff is an annual college football game played on the Saturday before the opening weekend of the college football season. The game showcases teams from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). For the game's first three editions, it was played at campus sites; since 2017, the game has been played at a neutral site, the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The game is televised nationally by ESPN, and for sponsorship reasons is officially the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff.

History

In February 2013, ESPN announced that the 2014 college football season would begin at its earliest point in 11 years with the creation of the "FCS Kickoff", an annual game which would showcase two top-level teams from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. ESPN stated that during meetings with FCS conference commissioners there was an interest in creating a "tentpole type" event around FCS football[1] and to showcase the quality and depth of FCS football to a national audience.[2]

Under current NCAA rules, FCS teams are not allowed to play their first regular-season game until the Thursday preceding Labor Day. However, an exception to this rule has been carved out for nationally televised events (on either over-the-air or cable networks); teams may participate in such an event against an out-of-conference opponent on the Saturday or Sunday preceding the standard season start date. No more than one team from a conference can participate in such an event in a given season, and no team can appear in such a game in three consecutive seasons.[3]

The 2017 edition marked several changes for the event. First, ESPN took ownership of the event through its ESPN Events division. The event was moved to a neutral site (the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama); received a name sponsorship by Guardian Credit Union, a small Montgomery-based credit union; was co-branded as the Montgomery Kickoff Classic; and also took on Alabama FCS member Jacksonville State University as a partner for the 2017 and 2018 editions. As such, JSU participated in both editions of the event.[4][5] With Jacksonville State barred from a third consecutive FCS Kickoff appearance by NCAA rule, ESPN chose another Alabama program, Samford, as the de facto home team for the 2019 edition.[6]

The 2020 edition, which saw Central Arkansas defeat Austin Peay, was the first since ESPN took ownership of the event that did not feature an Alabama school.[7]

Game results

Season Date Winners Runners-ups Venue Attendance
2014 August 23 No. 1 Eastern Washington 56 No. 17 Sam Houston State 35 Roos Field (Cheney, WA) 10,310[8]
2015 August 29 No. 13 Montana 38 No. 1 North Dakota State 35 Washington–Grizzly Stadium (Missoula, MT) 26,472[9]
2016 August 27 No. 1 North Dakota State 24 No. 7 Charleston Southern 17 Fargodome (Fargo, ND) 18,881[10]
2017 August 26 No. 6 Jacksonville State 27 No. 12 Chattanooga 13 Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, AL) 12,952[11]
2018 August 25 No. 14 North Carolina A&T 20 No. 6 Jacksonville State 17 13,500[12]
2019 August 24 Youngstown State 45 Samford 22 12,560[13]
2020 August 29 No. 11 Central Arkansas 24 No. 13 Austin Peay 17 2,000[14]

Rankings are from the STATS FCS Poll.

Upcoming matchups

Season Date Team 1 Team 2 Venue
2022 September 1 Jacksonville State No. 10 Stephen F. Austin Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, AL)

Records

By team

Rank Team Apps Record Win % PF PA
1 Central Arkansas 1 1–0 1.000 24 17
Eastern Washington 1 1–0 1.000 56 35
Montana 1 1–0 1.000 38 35
North Carolina A&T 1 1–0 1.000 20 17
Youngstown State 1 1–0 1.000 45 22
6 Jacksonville State 2 1–1 .500 44 33
North Dakota State 2 1–1 .500 59 55
8 Austin Peay 1 0–1 .000 17 24
Charleston Southern 1 0–1 .000 17 24
Chattanooga 1 0–1 .000 13 27
Sam Houston State 1 0–1 .000 35 56
Samford 1 0–1 .000 22 45

By conference

Rank Conference Apps Record Win % PF PA
1 Big Sky 2 2–0 1.000 94 70
MEAC 1 1–0 1.000 20 17
3 MVFC 3 2–1 .667 104 77
4 Southland 2 1–1 .500 59 73
5 Ohio Valley 3 1–2 .333 61 57
6 Big South 1 0–1 .000 17 24
Southern 2 0–2 .000 35 72

References

  1. ^ "ESPN to give college football season an early start in 2014". usatoday.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "College football season to kick off with FCS battle between Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington on August 23". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  3. ^ "Bylaw 17.10.3.2: First Contest, Exception—Nationally Televised Contest—Championship Subdivision" (PDF). 2018–19 NCAA Division I Manual. NCAA. July 2018. p. 272. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Rankin, Duane; Stevens, Matthew (October 12, 2016). "ESPN announces Montgomery Kickoff Classic for 2017". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  5. ^ "Guardian Credit Union Joins FCS Kickoff as Title Sponsor" (Press release). ESPN. March 21, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Haley, Craig (September 25, 2018). "Samford, Youngstown State to meet in 2019 FCS Kickoff". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  7. ^ "Austin Peay Football to Open 2020 at Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff" (Press release). Ohio Valley Conference. January 29, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  8. ^ "Sam Houston State Bearkats vs. Eastern Washington Eagles Box Score". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  9. ^ "North Dakota State Bison vs. Montana Grizzlies Box Score". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  10. ^ "Charleston Southern Buccaneers vs. North Dakota State Bison Box Score". ESPN.com. August 27, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  11. ^ "Chattanooga Mocs vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks Box Score". ESPN.com. August 26, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks Box Score". ESPN.com. August 25, 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  13. ^ "Youngstown State Penguins vs. Samford Bulldogs Box Score". ESPN.com. August 24, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  14. ^ "Austin Peay vs. Central Arkansas - Game Summary - August 29, 2020 - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 30, 2020.