40 Yards Scouting

CFB Vs NFL: The 3 Division System

in College Football 101

As you are no doubt familiar, the National Football League is organised into two conferences (AFC/NFC) with each consisting with three divisions.

However, at the college level, schools are divided up into three distinct athletic levels based upon size of the institution, athletic program size, student population and budget as follows:

Better known as the FBS, consists of the ‘Power 5’ (PAC-12, ACC, SEC, BIG-TEN and BIG-12) and ‘Group of 5’ (AAC, MAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA and Mountain West) along with four independent schools (Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Army and Massachusetts).


Referred to as the FCS – split into 13 divisions and an independent in Coastal Carolina (transferring to FBS in 2017), dominated by North Dakota State in recent years.

Northwest Missouri St, Grand Valley State & Shepherd the big names.

Mount Union are the storied, dominant power at the third level.

Each level competes wholly within itself, but each week you will notice a number of FCS teams scheduled in to play FBS teams, of which have produced many storied upsets over the years, one of our most compelling storylines every year.


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