FCS Opponents Place Premium on 7 Wins

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina’s 2015 football schedule includes two FCS opponents, which could potentially bring recently updated NCAA bowl eligibility requirements into play if the Tar Heels finish the regular season with a 6-6 record for the third consecutive season.

UNC hosts MEAC member North Carolina A&T on Sept. 12 and CAA member Delaware on Sept. 26.

UNC last played two FCS opponents during the same year in 2009. The Tar Heels defeated The Citadel (40-6) and Georgia Southern (42-12) en route to an 8-4 regular season record.

Prior to 2012, only one win over a FCS opponent could count toward bowl eligibility. The NCAA changed its bowl selection process in August 2012 to allow for some minor exceptions.

A bowl-eligible team is defined “as one that has won a number of games against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents that is equal to or greater than the number of its overall losses,” according to the 2014-15 NCAA Postseason Bowl Handbook.

One primary exception that is used by a majority of FBS football programs is the ability to count one victory against a FCS opponent that has averaged granting 90 percent of its maximum number of scholarships over a rolling two-year period.

The NCAA’s 2012 selection process changes allow for five additional exceptions – structured as a tiebreaking procedure for teams in consideration - if there are an insufficient number of institutions available to fill out the bowl slots. Teams can benefit from this provision once over a four-year period.

The first condition removes the aforementioned scholarship requirement for a FCS opponent to count as a victory. The second condition is of note to UNC as it allows for an institution to count two FCS victories toward bowl eligibility (.500 or better).

Here’s why that new provision may not matter: In 2014, there were 81 teams eligible for 76 bowl slots. There were also more eligible teams than bowl slots available in both 2012 and 2013, meaning the 2012 tiebreaker measure has yet to be utilized.

In other words, UNC likely needs seven wins in 2015 to earn a postseason bowl bid, if two of those wins come against N.C. A&T and Delaware.

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