Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Uh oh ...
For some ranked teams, getting to the FCS playoffs suddenly feels like
navigating the federal healthcare website. Saturday's Week 12 results saw to
that as we head toward the intrigue of the final full weekend of play.
The most surprising team to be sweating out an at-large bid is No. 8 Montana
State. After Saturday's loss at home to Southern Utah, the Bobcats (7-4) surely
must beat rival Montana next Saturday to get into the 24-team field. Otherwise,
their regular season will end with three straight losses, and they already have
an ugly loss at Stephen F. Austin on their ledger.
No. 15 Youngstown State also is facing a possible three-game losing streak
following back-to-back losses to Northern Iowa and North Dakota State. The
Penguins (8-3) will host Zach Zenner and South Dakota State (7-4) next Saturday
in what could amount to be a play-in game for the postseason.
How about No. 5 Fordham? The Rams (10-1) were an unbeaten darling until
Saturday, when they lost to Lafayette without injured quarterback Michael
Nebrich. Now they have to go to Colgate probably needing a win to avoid
possible ouster from the field. Remember, Lehigh went 10-1 in the Patriot
League and didn't make the field a year ago.
Charleston Southern, whose No. 13 national ranking this past week was its
highest ever, also is facing a season-ending collapse that could derail their
playoff bid. The Buccaneers (10-2) lost at Gardner-Webb on Saturday and have
another tough Big South game at home against Liberty next Saturday. With a win,
coach Jamey Chadwell's squad would earn the automatic bid out of the Big South.
A loss and, well ....
Gulp, when Chattanooga falls to Alabama next Saturday, could the No. 17 Mocs
(8-3) be in trouble? Incredibly, they could be if Furman wins the Southern
Conference's automatic bid and there are wins by Samford (likely versus Elon)
and UT Martin from the Ohio Valley Conference (unlikely versus Eastern
Illinois). Both teams beat the Mocs this season and the SoCon might not field
William & Mary has surrendered the fewest points in the FCS, but the No. 16
Tribe (7-4) are going to have to win at Richmond next Saturday to get into the
playoffs. And Richmond, on a three-win CAA Football winning streak, features a
quarterback (Michael Strauss) who just threw for a school-record 543 yards as
well as five touchdowns against Delaware.
It wasn't just that No. 22 Jacksonville State lost to OVC champion Eastern
Illinois on Saturday, the Gamecocks (8-3) fell behind 35-0 in the first quarter
and got drilled, 52-14. They still have a winnable home game against Southeast
Missouri State, but even that might not be enough if other results don't fall
right for them.
Finally, Sam Houston State - yes, the same program that has played in the last
two national championship games - doesn't want two season-ending losses on
their resume. Having already lost to McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana
in the Southland Conference this season, the No. 4 Bearkats (8-3) have to go to
Central Arkansas next Saturday. They lost there a year ago.
A team never wants to back in toward the playoffs and leave the selection
committee reason to leave it out of the field.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
A roundup of games in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at
IN THE FIELD
North Dakota State (Missouri Valley Football Conference), Maine (CAA Football),
Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley Conference), Southeastern Louisiana (Southland
Conference) and Sacred Heart (Northeast Conference) can breathe a sigh of
relief as the first five automatic qualifiers to the FCS playoffs.
The 24-team field will consist of 11 automatic qualifying bids for conference
champions and 13 at-large selections. It will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 24
at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPNU.
STOCK RISING, STOCK FALLING
Rising: Furman didn't let a loss to Elon and a 1-2 start in the Southern
Conference slow it down. The Paladins (6-5, 5-2) have won four straight
conference games and can earn a share of the title with a win over Wofford and
also earn the automatic playoff bid by adding a Samford triumph over Elon next
Saturday. That would be an unlikely end to a weird season in the SoCon.
Falling: With only champion Maine and Towson assured of playoff bids, CAA
Football had a rough day Saturday with Delaware and James Madison losing games
to likely be knocked from contention because of their strength of schedule.
William & Mary's loss means it has to win at Richmond to get an at-large bid.
New Hampshire is still shaky for a 10th straight bid, although a season-ending
win over Maine just might be enough because the Wildcats would improve to 6-2
in conference play.
North Dakota State redshirt senior Brock Jensen, who tied former Appalachian
State signal caller Armanti Edwards with his FCS-record 43rd career win on
Saturday, may be a future coach. He has all the cliches down.
"It's taking it week by week and not putting all of your eggs in one basket
with one week (and) not looking forward way down the road," he told In the FCS
Huddle. "It's just focusing on that next game and, shoot, even that next
practice, taking it day by day, then week by week. You can't overlook any
opponent from the Missouri Valley. That's how we stay on course."
Top-ranked North Dakota State (10-0) will try to complete an unbeaten regular
season when it hosts South Dakota next Saturday.
Idaho State's 59-13 loss at BYU dropped FCS teams to 15-87 against FBS
opponents this season.
There are four more games next Saturday.
AROUND THE NATION
The Citadel topped VMI, 31-10, in the "Military Classic of the South" on
Saturday. The Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points in the second half,
including two of quarterback Ben Dupree's three touchdowns runs. ... South
Dakota State has never led in its series with South Dakota, but the series
became tied 50-50-6 after the Jackrabbits' 27-12 win. ... Northern Iowa junior
David Johnson didn't just return from an ankle injury, he was a workhorse in
the Panthers' 17-10 win over Missouri, gaining 167 yards and two touchdowns on
37 carries. ... Sacramento State quarterback Garrett Safron passed for 554
yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another 42 yards and two touchdowns in
a 43-42 win over Portland State. His 4-yard scoring pass to Cole Hikutini with
30 seconds left erased a 42-37 Hornets' deficit. Sac State overcame D.J. Adams'
249 rushing yards and five touchdowns for Portland State. ... After the
University of San Diego forfeited the chance to win the first playoff bid in
Pioneer Football League history because of improper financial aid to players,
the Toreros (8-3, 7-1) went out and beat Drake, 23-13, behind Mason Mills'
three touchdown passes. The auto bid still must be decided on by the league for
either Butler (9-3, 7-1) or Marist (8-3, 7-1), the two co-champions. ... UT
Martin pulled off a 16-7 victory at Eastern Kentucky after being winless in its
first 11 trips there. ... Saint Francis' Kyle Harbridge broke his school
single-season records for rushing yards (1,509) and rushing touchdowns (15)
while becoming the first Red Flash player to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark for a
career. ... After defeating Campbell, 42-14, Old Dominion improved to 14-0
all-time in November. The Monarchs will put that to the test in next Saturday's
season finale when they travel to North Carolina. ... Lamar's Reggie Begelton
set the FCS season high with 18 receptions against Stephen F. Austin. He had
167 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in Lamar's 46-45 win. ...
After Bob Ford coached in his final home game at Albany on Saturday, he will
wrap up his 45th season, and career, next Saturday at Stony Brook. ... The SWAC
team with the most wins? Alcorn State at 9-3 after handing East Division
champion Jackson State its first conference loss, 48-33. ... Alabama State
defensive tackle Derrick Billups posted 6.5 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks) for
negative-28 yards in the Hornets' 19-7 win over Mississippi Valley State. ...
Adrian Kollock maximized his 12 touches Thursday night as he rushed for three
touchdowns and threw for another in South Carolina State's 38-3 win over Morgan
State. The Bulldogs (8-3) hope another win will be worth an at-large playoff
A LOOK AHEAD
Next weekend's final Saturday of the regular season is littered with important
games, some deciding conference championships, others playoff bids, others just
plain old rivalries.
The biggest game in each conference:
Big Sky: Montana-Montana State with a nod to Northern Arizona-Southern Utah;
Big South: Liberty-Charleston Southern; CAA, Maine-New Hampshire; Ivy, Harvard-
Yale; MEAC, Florida A&M/Bethune-Cookman; Missouri Valley, South Dakota State-
Youngstown State; Northeast, Robert Morris-Saint Francis (final game for RMU
coach Joe Walton); OVC, Eastern Illinois/UT Martin; Patriot, Lafayette-Lehigh;
Pioneer, Stetson-Mercer; Southern, Wofford-Furman; Southland, Sam Houston
State-Central Arkansas; and SWAC, OK, bring on the conference championship game
on Dec. 7.
The Sports Network