The Southeastern Conference and Division I-AA football in November is as American as coaches in windbreakers.
There are 106 games between teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Subdivision this season, and seven FCS teams face the SEC this weekend. Where would the SEC be without the wonderment of Wofford-South Carolina, the majesty that is Western Carolina-Alabama and the knockdown, drag-out first quarter between Florida and Jacksonville State?
Fans might not love these, but FCS games offer a few things for the power conferences: an easy home game before a rivalry week, playing time for second- and third-stringers, extra television inventory, another step toward a bowl game and a willing participant.
It's not easy to schedule a nonconference FBS team late in the year without a home-and-home promise in return. FCS teams, meanwhile, will visit for a reasonable fee (usually around a half a million).
If the SEC transitions into a nine-game schedule and schools look to beef up scheduling for the looming playoff, perhaps teams will dump the cupcakes eventually. But Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity says a nine-game conference slate might make FCS games more tempting -- at least for the SEC.
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"To add two tough nonconference games plus a nine-game schedule, that would be one tremendous grind," said McGarity, whose Bulldogs are locked into FCS games until 2016. "If at least 10 out of your 12 games are against BCS teams, I think you'll definitely see programs value it more. You'll have already strengthened your schedule so much with another conference game."
McGarity also sees the value of bolstering revenue for an in-state school such as Georgia Southern, Georgia's FCS opponent this week and in 2016. As for the nine-game schedule, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Monday the league would evaluate the possibilities.
"We need to be aware of what's going on around us," Slive said.
Slive wants what's best for his schools, which, at least in Georgia's case, appears to be playing one FCS team a year.
Here are a few numbers on the SEC's love of frosting. All numbers include new additions Missouri and Texas A&M.
441: Margin of victory (625-184) between the SEC and FCS in 13 games last season. The average score was 48-14. The only league team not to play an FCS opponent last season was Texas A&M, which plays two this year.
314: Margin of victory (433-119) between SEC/FCS in eight games so far this season. The average score is 54-15.
699: Margin of victory (1,058-303) in 21 SEC/FCS games since last year, for an average score of 50-14.
$483,000: Average price for Florida, Alabama and Georgia's FCS games this season. Florida paid $500,000, Georgia and Alabama $475,000 apiece.
4: Number of SEC losses to Division I-AA (FCS) out of 187 games since the NCAA made the separation in 1978. That's good for a 97.9 winning percentage.
26: Number of months since Jacksonville State stunned Ole Miss 49-48 in double overtime on Sept. 4, 2010. Then-Rebels coach Houston Nutt called it the worst loss of his career.
1: Number of SEC programs with more than one Division I-AA loss (South Carolina is 19-2).
3: Number of SEC teams that have played fewer than 10 Division I-AA games since 1978 (LSU 9-0, Alabama 8-0, Tennessee 4-0).
57: Number of bowl-eligible teams entering the final two weeks of the regular season. This year's bowl setup requires 70, but 13 teams are one win away (h/t to @ralphDrussoAP).
5: Number of top-25 scoring defenses Notre Dame has faced this year -- No. 7 BYU, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 12 Stanford, No. 17 Michigan, No. 24 Oklahoma (h/t to @PMac21).
17: Difference between Geno Smith's touchdown total through his first five games (24) compared to his last four (seven).
3: Number of BCS computer rankings that have No. 10 Florida State ranked 16th or lower. That's three out of six BCS computers saying the Seminoles are no better than the country's 16th-best team.
5: Number of multi-touchdown games for Wisconsin running back Montee Ball in his past six contests.