As college football fans, we constantly have a debate about Power 5 teams playing FCS teams. Many will argue that the contests are rarely competitive and largely a waste of time. Then you have some reasonable people that will tell you that these games can help fund FCS programs. Occasionally, an upset for the ages can occur. Who can forget then-FCS power Appalachian State going to “The Big House” and taking down Michigan? So, let’s take a trickle-down approach, and explore this venture. There is a division of college athletics called the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which is an alternative to the NCAA. Sometimes, the two clash on the field. In 2022, by our count, we had 26 matchups between NAIA and NCAA programs. In the same logic as above, some of these are money games for NAIA programs. Plus, NAIA players want to play on the biggest stage possible. Here’s a look at those matchups and the outcomes below. I may be missing some games, feel free to let me know in the comments. Finding every matchup from this year was a tedious project. Lets check out the NAIA vs. NCAA this season.
NAIA vs. NCAA FCS
(24 Full Athletic Scholarships vs. 63 Full Athletic Scholarships)
- Indiana Wesleyan 17 vs. Valparaiso 20
- St. Thomas 26 vs. Butler 31
- Concordia (MI) 14 vs. Stetson 24
- Thomas More 14 vs. Duquesne 34
- Keiser 3 vs. Lindenwood 37
- Louisiana College 14 vs. Stetson 45
- St. Andrews 6 vs. Davidson 56
- Florida Memorial 0 vs. Southern 86
- Warner 0 vs. Stephen F. Austin 98
Fun Fact: In 2021, Indiana Wesleyan defeated Valparaiso, and if you used the transitive property, Indiana Wesleyan is better than Alabama. The majority of these matchups involved FCS teams from the Pioneer League. The Pioneer League has a lot of great talent even though they do not supply athletic scholarships. That does not mean they don’t have FCS D1-type talent. The NAIA did not grab a win versus an FCS team this season, but most did get paid. Some teams probably need to hold off before scheduling an opponent at this level again, while others are very close. NCAA FCS Advantage 9-0.
NAIA vs. NCAA Division II
(24 Full Athletic Scholarships vs. 36 Full Athletic Scholarships)
- Florida Memorial 39 vs. Edward Waters 34
- Arizona Christian 52 vs. Fort Lewis College 12
- Southeastern 34 vs. Savannah State 14
- Dickinson State 2 vs. Black Hills State 17
- Keiser 21 vs. Valdosta State 36
- Keiser 8 vs. Mississippi College 26
- Trinity International 14 vs. Quincy 53
- Warner 3 vs. West Florida 52
- Waldorf 3 vs. Ferris State 69
As you can see the NAIA drifts a lot closer against the DII competition than they did the FCS competition. The Scholarship advantage is still +12 here. If you were an NAIA team that was competitive against other NAIA teams then you did well here. NCAA DII Advantage 6-3.
NAIA vs NCAA Division III
(24 Full Athletic Scholarships vs. 0 Full Athletic Scholarships)
- Presentation 29 vs. Luther 6
- Presentation 13 vs. Concordia College-Moorhead 42
- Valley City State 12 vs. Concordia College-Moorhead 14
- Mayville State 31 vs. UW-Stevens Point 24
- Mayville State 55 vs. Nebraska Wesleyan 48
- Eastern Oregon 7 vs. Whitworth 33
- Iowa Wesleyan 41 vs. Westminster 6
- Iowa Wesleyan 55 vs. Finlandia 0
- Point 14 vs. Birmingham Southern 34
While Division III doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, institutions make up for it with academic money. NAIA held the advantage here 5-4.
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