Photo courtesy of Eastern Kentucky Athletics
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
(Sports Network) - The eye doctor gave some advice about the blurry vision.
He said to stop looking at the entire 2012 FCS schedule for hours upon end.
Sorry, just a habit. But with 122 teams anxiously waiting to kick off their season, somebody has to bring the national schedule into focus.
If you don't mind paying for the bifocals, here's the top games to look forward to this season:
Bethune-Cookman at South Carolina State (Sept. 8) - At least on paper, the biggest game of the MEAC season is its first one.
Jacksonville State at Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 22) - Washaun Ealey versus Matt Denham. Not a bad matchup of running backs.
Montana at Eastern Washington (Sept. 29) - Roll out the red carpet for the Griz running game against Eastern's passing attack.
Grambling State at Alabama A&M (Sept. 29) - It's a rematch of the 2011 SWAC Championship Game. Will Doug Williams and the Grambling assistant coaches have their bonuses by then?
North Dakota State at Northern Iowa (Sept. 29) - UNI has a brutally tough schedule in September, but oh will the Missouri Valley get fun if the Panthers beat the defending FCS champion Bison.
Youngstown State at North Dakota State (Oct. 6) - A week later, North Dakota State takes on the only team to beat it last season.
Towson at James Madison (Oct. 6) - After the two CAA teams did not face each other last year, Towson running back Terrance West gets his first look at James Madison's powerful defense.
San Diego at Drake (Oct. 6) - Collecting frequent flyer miles must be a hobby in the Pioneer Football League. These two teams shared the league title last year.
Appalachian State at Georgia Southern (Nov. 3) - The FCS' No. 1-ranked team has lost on the road in each of the last two meetings (ASU in 2010 and GSU last year).
Stony Brook at Liberty (Nov. 10) - The last five Big South titles have included at least one of these conference powers.
Bonus Matchups (hey, they're basically just as good)
Delaware at New Hampshire (Sept. 29) - This game will go a long way in showing if coach K.C. Keeler has the visiting Blue Hens back in the national title picture this season.
Southern Utah at Montana (Oct. 13) - If a team is going to come out of Missoula with a win, it needs a quarterback like Southern Utah's Brad Sorensen.
Albany at Duquesne (Nov. 10) - Albany's win over Duquesne last year was decisive, although the two teams went on to share the Northeast Conference title.
Old Dominion at James Madison (Nov. 17) - No doubt this season-ending game will factor into the CAA Football title. Will it be ODU's final CAA game?
RIVALRY (Beyond Conference!)
UC Davis at Cal Poly (Sept. 22) - How is this for weird? The former Great West powers play their first Big Sky game against each other.
Sam Houston State-Stephen F. Austin (Oct. 6) - The Battle of the Piney Woods will feature offensive fireworks.
Norfolk State at Hampton (Oct. 13) - Maybe the losing team can be forced to walk home across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Alabama A&M-Alabama State (Oct. 27) - The Magic City Classic will draw the biggest FCS crowd of the season ... again.
South Dakota State at North Dakota State (Nov. 10) - The Dakota Marker trophy is so cool - a model replica of the quartzite monuments that were used to delineate the border between North and South Dakota.
Montana State at Montana (Nov. 17) - Think these sides will exchange Christmas cards?
Lafayette-Lehigh (Nov. 17) - Lafayette leads the series but has dropped four straight meetings in college football's most played series (which turns 148).
Harvard-Yale (Nov. 17) - Speaking of recent dominance, Harvard has won five straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings in "The Game."
Bethune-Cookman at Florida A&M (Nov. 17) - This annual meeting at the neutral Citrus Bowl feels like a bowl game but with playoff implications. Take that, FBS.
Grambling State at Southern (Nov. 24) - So much pageantry at the Louisiana Superdome, but Grambling State has won each of the last four meetings by at least two touchdowns.
Bethune-Cookman at Alabama State (Sept. 2) - B-C returns to the MEAC-SWAC Challenge off a 63-14 pounding of Prairie View A&M last year.
Montana at Appalachian State (Sept. 8) - This is better than Montana going to the University of Tennessee last September.
Montana State at Drake (Sept. 8) - Montana State sixth-year coach Rob Ash is the winningest coach in Drake history (125 wins from 1989-2006).
Central Arkansas at Murray State (Sept. 8) - UCA won a game in the playoffs last year. That's where Murray State and QB Casey Brockman want to get to this season.
Stephen F. Austin at Montana State (Sept. 15) - SFA's last trip to the state of Montana ended with a 51-0 loss to Montana. The Bobcats don't plan to be any more accommodating.
McNeese State at Weber State (Sept. 15) - John L. Smith will coach as many wins at Weber State as he will at McNeese State.
San Diego at Harvard (Sept. 15) - With the Patriot League going to athletic scholarships in 2013, matchups between the Pioneer and Ivy leagues will become more frequent. This one matches defending champions.
Eastern Kentucky at Coastal Carolina (Sept. 15) - Both teams play tough September schedules, so this is one neither wants to let get away.
Lehigh at Liberty (Sept. 22) - This was a better matchup last season.
The Citadel at VMI (Nov. 10) - Don't overlook the 68th renewal of the Military Classic of the South.
Southern Utah at Utah State (Aug. 30) - Will this one jump-start the FCS season on opening night?
Jacksonville State at Arkansas (Sept. 1) - Gamecocks coach Jack Crowe used to be the Arkansas coach.
Appalachian State at East Carolina (Sept. 1) - Future Conference USA opponents?
North Dakota State at Colorado State (Sept. 8) - Reigning FCS champions have a way of hanging with, or beating, FBS opposition.
New Hampshire at Minnesota (Sept. 8) - Well, we know how New Hampshire beats FBS teams and Minnesota loses to FCS teams.
Bethune-Cookman at Miami, Fla. (Sept. 15) - The visiting Wildcats have their share of FBS transfers.
Sam Houston State at Baylor (Sept. 15) - No RG3 here, but the visiting Bearkats feature star players.
Stony Brook at Army (Sept. 29) - Here's hoping they combine for 1,000 rushing yards.
Towson at LSU (Sept. 29) - It's just cool to say you're playing in Death Valley.
Georgia Southern at Georgia (Nov. 17) - Alabama's defending FBS national championship squad will vouch for GSU's triple option.