2014 NCAA Football - FCS Playoffs

Tag Archives | FCS

Week 3

Alright, now that the majority of us are done with our annual beat downs of the FBS its time for the real season to start. Montana vs. NDSU EWU vs Montana State UNI vs NoCo JMU vs Nova UNH vs Richmond Wofford GWU going to learn a lot about several teams around FCS this weekend.

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The doldrums/silly season/man I hate baseball

Alright football fans well basketball season is over so fortunetly that means one thing SPRING. Which only applies to those living in the south or on the coasts because Winter has decided to go straight to summer(no joke here in iowa its supposed to be 40 degrees today and seventy five on saturday) anywho what to write about, I think the biggest thing is the new “playoff” system in FBS and moving up to FBS. Because I feel more for the latter topic I will start there, whats with all the movment up, do you really think you are going to make more money at that level then you are now? okay, you are going to get more for FBS games, but playing in half-empty stadiums for all of your other games while at the end of the season your hope is to play in abowl game that no one cares about. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around that. Tying into that FBS you guys have successful marginalized your “playoff” system you didn’t want to get rid of the bowls your cash cows, but by having the lamest name ever you have reduced it even further escpecaillyw ith your archaic lock-out requesrments denying equal access to the “other conferences” Whatever. When is football season here, I’d rather complain about how this happened, or rankings as opposed to this stuff.

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Tony Moss discusses his Lindy’s FCS preview

From Tony Moss – Senior Editor/NFL Editor (The Sports Network)

First of all, thanks to my friend Chris Lynn for hooking this up. I’ve had a few email inquiries about the FCS preview I did for Lindy’s, which was recently published, and am anticipating a few more so I thought it might be efficient to address those questions here. I’ll try to encapsulate the questions people had of me.

Readers: Why is there no No. 9 listed on your national rankings?

Me: Well, there was. It was Colgate – who I have winning the Patriot League – but the No. 9 line must have gotten accidentally wiped when the magazine was laid out. It’s a shame, but typos happen unfortunately. Overall it’s a pretty impressive book in my opinion.

Readers: Why did you even write this preview? Don’t you cover the NFL?

Me: Yes, I do. My friend Otto Fad, who normally writes the Lindy’s FCS preview, had a conflict this year and contacted me looking for a potential replacement. We were between FCS Coordinators at The Sports Network, and so I volunteered my services. Though I haven’t covered FCS full-time since 2004, the thought at Lindy’s was apparently that I was a professional, with a body of work on the subject, and that I would take the assignment seriously and do a credible job. I definitely did the former, whether I achieved the latter is not up to me to decide, though I think Lindy’s liked what I turned in.

Readers: How did you select your Top 25/conference standings?

Me: I used the same method as when I made predictions while covering the FCS beat. I drew up all of the conference predictions first, then contacted every conference SID in FCS (except the SWAC, who didn’t have one at that moment) to get their feedback before I finalized them. I always involved the conference SIDs in the process when I covered the beat because I felt they would give me an objective portrayal of where their teams stood. I made a few changes to my conference predicted order of finish based on their thoughts. I also enlisted their help in coming up with a group of top players.

From there, I devised the Top 25, which seems to have elicited some discussion questioning my sanity. That’s a bit surprising to me, since 13 of my Top 17 were 2009 playoff teams, three others in that group (9-2 Colgate, 7-4 Montana State, and 7-4 Texas State) were close, and the other was Prairie View, which won the SWAC and whose only loss was to a FBS team. The ’09 playoff teams I didn’t have in “the playoff zone” in my Top 25 were No. 22 New Hampshire (lost seven of eight all-conference picks in a league we all know is really competitive), No. 24 Holy Cross (lost the QB and 80 percent of their o-line) and unranked Weber State (who I simply felt might have lost some ground after losing eight first- or second-team All-Big Sky choices from a 7-5 team that had a bad first-round playoff loss).

The point for me with the Top 25 exercise has always been to vaguely predict what the poll will look like heading into the playoffs (before regional bracketing knocks some really good teams out early and skews the final rankings a bit), not to mirror The Sports Network preseason poll or any others. I think the way I did it is more useful than a traditional “power ranking,” since the race to the playoffs is such a meaningful goal for much of the sub-division. Am I saying that Colgate will be better than William & Mary? Not necessarily, but I am willing to wager based on experience that the champion of the Patriot League is going to be ranked higher, entering the playoffs, than the third-place team in the CAA. Maybe that will turn out to be incorrect, but it’s the nature of predictions.

The only predicted conf. champ with an automatic NCAA bid in the expanded bracket that I didn’t include in my preseason Top 25 was my NEC pick, Robert Morris, although RMU finished ’09 on a five-game win streak in the NEC and outscored opponents 110-36 in those games.

Readers: Why did you pick Villanova’s Matt Szczur as your national player of the year when he’s uncertain to return?

Me: I weighed it, discussed with Coach Talley and Villanova Assistant AD Dean Kenefick as well as my editor at Lindy’s, and determined that it was worth the risk to include a guy that played so well when it mattered last season. If Szczur decides to sign a MLB contract, which would seem to be about 50-50, I think reasonable people will understand why his name appears in the book. I detailed the situation in the feature I wrote as part of the preview. I really hope he comes back, he’s fun to watch.

Readers: Why did you pick Aaron Corp as your newcomer of the year when he is uncertain to start at Richmond?

Me: Please note that my deadline came before Richmond’s spring practice, so I was flying blind a little bit there. My judgment was that Corp didn’t transfer from USC to be a No. 2 at Richmond, but of course we’ll have to see how it shakes out. For the record, my second choice was Bo Levi Mitchell from Eastern Washington, and had he been confirmed as the starter before my deadline, there’s a good chance I would have picked him over Corp.

Readers: What do you make of the criticism of your Lindy’s work on various Internet forums?

Me: It takes me back to when I covered the beat :-) The reality is that the four-page spread of 2010 FCS predictions amounts to no more than someone’s take, and forums like this one exist to debate the same topics that are in Lindy’s or any other magazine.

The goal is to be objective and reasonable given the data you have in front of you, and if people want to say I’m off base, then that’s fine. It comes with the territory. I would add that some of the most ardent criticism of me (not on the CS board) comes with an agenda that is pretty easy to size up if you look hard enough. Overall though, it’s clear that there are many more FCS fans who are educated about the sub-division from a national standpoint than there were six years ago, and that’s great to see.

If you have any more questions about my Lindy’s preview, our FCS or NFL coverage, or just want to say hey, please feel free to drop me a line at tmoss@sportsnetwork.com.

Tony Moss
Senior Editor/NFL Editor
The Sports Network

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1st Round Playoff Breakdown

Rob Weiss, FCS Update

South Dakota State at (1) Montana

This is a match-up of two teams I’m pretty familiar with. Both teams have played up and down this year.

For Montana the key is going to be QB play. They have switched QBs on and off and need to have the right chemistry on Saturday. I had the opportunity to watch the Griz against UC-Davis, Northern Arizona, Weber State, and Northern Colorado. The offense and defense were both all over the place. The UC-Davis game was a low scoring game that was tied in the 4th quarter, but the NAU game was an OT shootout. The team clicked on both sides of the ball against Weber State.

South Dakota State could’ve helped themselves with a win over Minnesota. The Jacks had the ball in a tie game with 5 minutes left but fumbled it on their own 20 yd line to give the game away.

I’ve seen the Jacks twice this year. Their games against Northern Iowa and Cal Poly were fairly similar with the exception of the result. SDSU should not have lost the Cal Poly game, but injury to a QB can really change your chemistry.

I see this game as a toss-up with the edge to the home team, but if the Griz are clicking, this could be a blow out.

Montana Grizzlies 31  South Dakota State Jackrabbits 27

 

Eastern Washington @ Stephen F. Austin

I have not had the opportunity to watch either of these teams this year.

Stephen F. Austin saw their offensive success through a huge passing game, while Eastern Washington has been a little more balanced than in the past.

If Eastern Washington can pull off the defensive gameplan that Texas State used against SFA, it could be a long day for the Lumberjacks.

Eastern Washington Eagles 35  Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 28

 

Elon @ (4) Richmond

Both of these teams have lacked some consistency this year. Richmond struggled in some games they should have won easily and blew their game against Villanova. Elon didn’t show up for their big games against Wake Forest and Appalachian State.

I had the opportunity to watch Richmond a few times this year. They had issues in their game against a poor VMI team.  The team struggled to get any rhythm going. In their game against Villanova they let the Wildcats score with about a minute left, then drove down for a chip shot FG that was wide left from the right hash. Now the team has a path that could run them through Missoula instead of a home path to Chatty. (A semifinal match-up against Montana would make for an interesting game). 

Elon has had a great passing game this year. Their SoS was very poor and their performance against Appalachian State has a lot of people wondering.

Richmond Spiders 24  Elon Phoenix 21

 

South Carolina State @ (4) Appalachian State

A rematch of last years first round leaves many of us wondering if we’ll see a similar game. The MEAC champ went into Boone last year and really hung around.

I don’t think that will be the case this year. Last year the Mountaineers had an unhealthy Armanti Edwards and were not clicking. This App State team is scary to me. They seem to be clicking at the right time and have great chemistry.

South Carolina State’s only loss is to South Carolina. They won’t be a pushover, but I’m just not sure they have enough.

Appalachian State Mountaineers 38  South Carolina State Bulldogs  28

 

Eastern Illinois @ (3) Southern Illinois

This will be one of those lopsided first round match-ups.

The Panthers limped their way into the field, needing an EKU loss to get the autobid.

The Salukis have beat every team put in front of them after a near loss to FBS Marshall.

Look for EIU QB Jake Christensen to have a long day. SIU will pound the ball on the EIU offense and waltz into the second round.

Southern Illinois Salukis 38  Eastern Illinois 17

 

Weber State at William and Mary

This also has the makings of a lopsided match-up. Weber State struggled against tough competition and William and Mary was a FG away from being seeded in this years field.

After seeing William and Mary blow the Villanova game, they have been clicking ever since.

William and Mary Tribe 24   Weber State Wildcats 14

 

Holy Cross at (2) Villanova

This game is basically over before it begins. As long as the ‘Nova pass defense shows up, this one will be over quickly.

Holy Cross relies on it’s passing attack and struggled against a couple opponents. Villanova played one of the hardest schedules in the country and came through with only one loss.

Villanova Wildcats 31   Holy Cross Crusaders 14

 

New Hampshire at McNeese State

If New Hampshire had any kind of facilities and home crowd they would be at home. Their team deserves to be at home almost every year but gets stuck taking flights across the country. New Hampshire is the clear favorite in this road match-up.

As one of two upsets I picked, this is the only game I feel will be a clear cut winner. New Hampshire beat some tough opponents and also went on the road to get a FBS win. McNeese has a good team and a great enviroment, but that won’t stop the Wildcats.

New Hampshire Wildcats 24  McNeese State Cowboys 14

 

With expected 2nd round matchups, my current pick for national champion is Appalachian State. Armanti Edwards is the only QB in FCS football that can single handedly win games. If he is truly healthy, and stays healthy, he’ll get his 3rd national championship.

 

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Top 25 Summary 10/17

Rob Weiss, FCS Update

1. Richmond Spiders at Maine Black Bears

My Prediction: Richmond 38   Maine 17

Reality: Richmond 38   Maine 21

Pretty close on this prediction. Richmond didn’t show up for the first half but put the Black Bears away in the second half. No one has had an easy time in Orono this season.

 
2. Northern Iowa Panthers vs. 5. Southern Illinois Salukis

My Prediction: Northern Iowa 38  Southern Illinois 35

Reality:   Southern Illinois 27  Northern Iowa 20

Not the offensive shootout I was predicting. This was a typical game in this series, other than the fact that the visiting team won for the first time in 13 games. The Southern Illinois offense was clicking for most of the game and had great special teams. The Panther defense held their own (1 TD was an INT return, and another was after a special teams fumble on the UNI 7). I look for both of these teams to make the quarterfinals this year.

 

3. New Hampshire Wildcats at 20. Massachusetts Minutemen

My Prediction: New Hampshire 27  Massachusetts 21

Reality:   Massachusetts23 New Hampshire 17

What a crazy game?! New Hampshire drove in the last minute to the UMass 13, but couldn’t score. I expected this game to be close, but not come down to the last play. UMass is fighting their way back into playoff contention. 5 CAA teams looks like a lock at this point. 6 might be a possibility.

 
4. Montana Grizzlies vs. 21. Eastern Washington Eagles

My Prediction: Montana 35  Eastern Washington 28

Reality: Montana 41 Eastern Washington 34

Not too far off on this one. Montana pulls off the 7 pt win. Montana faces Weber State on Halloween. Should be a shootout.

 

5. Southern Illinois Salukis at 2. Northern Iowa Panthers

see 2. Northern Iowa Panthers
6. Villanova Wildcats at 19. James Madison Dukes

My Prediction: James Madison 24 Villanova 20

Reality:  Villanova 27 James Madison 0

Way off on this one. Apparently James Madison forgot they had a game today. Very suprising with the way they’ve played everyone else this season. Good bounce back for Villanova.

 

7. William & Mary Tribe    BYE

 
8. Elon Phoenix  BYE

  

9. Central Arkansas Bears  vs. 16. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

My Prediction: Central Arkansas 34   Stephen F. Austin 31

Reality: Stephen F. Austin 33 Central Arkansas 30

Close game as predicted, different winner. Stephen F Austin puts themselves in the driver’s seat for the SLC autobid.

 

 

10. Appalachian State Mountaineers at Wofford Terriers

My Prediction: Appalachian State 35  Wofford 10

Reality: Appalachian State 44 Wofford 34

Much closer game than predicted. App St stays undefeated in SoCon play.

 
11. South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. North Dakota State Bison

My Prediction: South Dakota State 35  North Dakota State 17

Reality: South Dakota State 28  North Dakota State 13

North Dakota State continues their slide. Jackrabbits face Northern Iowa in a game that could end the playoff hopes of the loser.

 
12. Jacksonville State Gamecocks  BYE

 

 
13. South Carolina State Bulldogs vs. 22. Florida A&M Rattlers

My Prediction: South Carolina State 24   Florida A&M 14

Reality: South Carolina State 35   Florida A&M 20

Bulldogs are on their way to the playoffs. No one else should stand in their way.

 
14. Weber State Wildcats vs Sacremento State Hornets

My Prediction: Weber State 24  Sacremento State 14

Reality: Weber State 49  Sacremento State 10

The Wildcats win by a much larger margin that I predicted. Montana game is looming large in two weeks. Loss to Montana State could haunt them.

 
15. McNeese State Cowboys vs. Northwestern State Demons

My Prediction: McNeese 38 Northwestern State 7

Reality: McNeese 51 Northwestern State 23

Much higher scoring than I figured. McNeese stays in the playoff hunt.

 
16. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at 9. Central Arkansas Bears

 see 9. Central Arkansas Bears

 
17. Cal Poly Mustangs

My Prediction: Southern Utah 24 Cal Poly 21

Reality:  Cal Poly 24 Southern Utah 23

Great game, came down to the wire. Cal Poly stays on top of the Great West.
18. Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens at Towson Tigers

My Prediction: Delaware 35  Towson 13

Reality: Delaware 49 Towson 21

Delaware is really clicking now. Fighting for the 5th CAA bid.
19. James Madison Dukes vs. 6. Villanova Wildcats

See 6. Villanova Wildcats

 
20. Massachusetts Minutemen vs. 3. New Hampshire Wildcats

 See 3. New Hampshire Wildcats
21. Eastern Washington Eagles at 4. Montana Grizzlies

See 4. Montana Grizzlies
22. Florida A&M Rattlers at 13. South Carolina State Bulldogs

See 13. South Carolina State Bulldogs
23. Colgate Raiders vs. Georgetown

My Prediction: Colgate 28  Georgetown 3

Reality: Colgate 31  Georgetown 14

A little bit closer than I thought. Same result.

 
24. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Portland State Vikings

My Prediction: Northern Arizona 38  Portland State 14

Reality: Northern Arizona 44  Portland State 23

The Lumberjacks are in the hunt for a playoff bid. 2nd place in the Big Sky should get them there.

 

25. Furman Paladins vs. Samford Bulldogs

My Prediction: Samford 24  Furman 17

Reality: Furman 26 Samford 24

Furman keeps their playoff hopes alive.

 

My record this week: 10-6

On the season: 23-10

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Spotlight shines on Orangeburg

Rob Weiss, FCS Update

All eyes in the MEAC will focus on Orangeburg, SC this weekend as the Florida A&M Rattlers face the South Carolina State Bulldogs

Both teams take the field Saturday with an overall record of 4-1, and a MEAC record of 2-0. Florida A&M’s lone loss came to in-state FBS rival Miami, and SC State also fell to an in-state rival when the faced South Carolina.

Florida A&M comes in with national sensation, LeRoy Vann, who has been featured on ESPN because of his explosiveness in the Rattlers return game. When asked about Vann and the problems he presented, S.C. State head coach, Buddy Pough said that they would not kick the ball out of bounds to avoid Vann touching the ball. The special teams battle could easily win this game.

The Bulldogs of South Carolina State are coming off of a 2008 playoff appearance in which they came close to upsetting FCS powerhouse, Appalachian State. They are lead by Senior RB Will Ford, who leads the team with 383 yards rushing. Ford is on the Payton Award watch list after rushing for 1,499 yards last year. Their marquee win at this point in the season came against Grambling State in week one. The game ended with a final score of 34-31, but the game was never really that close. The Bulldogs struggled at times, had conditioning issues, and just were not playing to their potential. If this game were played again I would expect the Bulldogs to win by 10+.

This game could very well decide the MEAC championship which would guarantee a spot in the 2009 FCS playoffs. While the loser could still learn an at-large bid, no one wants to leave it to chance.

Coach Pough feels like both teams have a strong resume for the playoffs. While the winner clearly has the better path, Pough feels both teams belong in at this point in the season. When asked about their non-conference schedule, Couch Pough said that he felt like they played on of the toughest non-conference slates in FCS football. This schedule included a neutral site game against Grambling State, FBS South Carolina, and Winston Salem State.

I contacted Florida A&M or this article, but was unable to get a response. Current issues in their athletic department may have caused communication issues. If we can get a comment from Coach Taylor, then the story will be updated.

Prediction:

South Carolina State 24   Florida A&M 14

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Coming up this week 10/12

Rob Weiss, FCS Update

The big story for this week will be a preview of the marquee match-up in the MEAC: South Carolina State vs. Florida A&M. I will be posting a breakdown of the game, as well as comments from both head coaches.

Also look for the beginning of our former FCS player profile series that will feature former FCS players on the ChampionshipSubdivision.com forums.

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The Battle In The Trenches, Part 1: Meet Pat Paschall

Rob Weiss, FCS Update

This weekend, those of us in the Fargodome are in for what should amount to be an epic battle. North Dakota State’s running back, Pat Paschall, is currently the number one running back in all of FCS football. Paschall, coming into the game averaging 150.8 yards per game, is going to be up against the defense from the University of Northern Iowa. The Panther defense comes into Saturday’s game ranked in the top 10 in 3 major statistical categories.

 Paschall, The Bison’s fifth year senior from St. Louis, Mo., was originally recruited to Georgia Southern University, where in his redshirt season he was named scout team player of the year. Unhappy with the situation in Statesboro, Paschall headed to Dodge City Community College, where he would eventually be recruited by North Dakota State.

In his sophmore season, his first with the Bison, Paschall would run the ball 84 times for a total of 530 yards and five TDs. He also had one reception for 16 yards and a touchdown.

His junior year was very similar to his sophmore campaign. He would run the ball 108 times for 601 yards and two TDs, so more carries, a little more yardage, but less TDs. He would also catch nine passes for 51 yards.

The 2009 season has already been great to Pat. Through 5 games he has rushed the ball 100 times for 765 yards (7.65 yards per carry) and 5 TDs. Career highs less than halfway through the season in both yards and TDs. He also has 6 receptions for 120 yards.

This week the Bison’s running game faces a highly ranked Panther defense.

We’ll turn to the Panther defense on Thursday and will finish next week with a post game commentary on what should be a great battle.

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Top 25 Update

Rob Weiss, FCS Update:

In early Top 25 games:

Looks like I’m going to be under on No. 22 Holy Cross. I predicted a 35-7 win, but going into halftime they already have a 35-7 lead.

 

So far I’m WAY off on No. 10 Appalachian State against The Citadel, who is unranked. I picked the Mountaineers to win 42-24, but at the half they are down 13-7.

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The Rumor Mill is turning: Pioneer League applying for autobid

Rob Weiss, FCS Update:

The end of November is always an exciting time in FCS football.  For 16 teams it means the beginning of a shot at the national championship.  Starting in 2010 that number will jump to 20 with the addition of automatic bids for the Big South and NEC, and 2 more at-large bids.

 

When the playoffs started in 1978 there was only 4 teams involved.  In 1981 the format changed to 8 teams.  One year later the playoffs were expanded to 12 teams, with 4 teams getting a first round bye.  The first 16 team playoff bracket was formed in 1986.

 

With the first change in over 20 years only a season away, another change is already brewing.

 

A little more than a month ago the rumors began spreading that the Pioneer Football League, a non-scholarship football only conference, was applying for an automatic bid.  The league is in its 17th year of operation and it currently ranges from coast to coast.  The ten team conference is composed of Butler, Campbell, Davidson, Dayton, Drake, Jacksonville, Marist, Morehead State, San Diego, and Valparaiso.  Although the Pioneer League has not officially announced it’s intentions, the rumor was confirmed by Morehead State Athletic Director Brian Hutchinson.  ( http://www.wkyt.com/wymtsports/headlines/61520037.html )

 

This announcement has stirred up a lot of arguments in the FCS community.  Here are the two sides to that argument:

 

“The Pioneer League meets all requirements”- This is the positive side of the discussion, and it’s true.  The Pioneer meets all of the requirements set forth by the NCAA for teams who want to apply for an automatic bid.  They are one of three conferences who are eligible to apply for an autobid, but most likely the only one that will apply.

 

I agree with this side of the argument.  There is no reason to keep a league from applying for an automatic bid if they meet all of the requirements put forth by the NCAA.  If the NCAA plans to exclude them, they would have to change the language in the by-laws.  If they Pioneer League is denied, they will be the only qualified applicant who has been denied.  The SWAC and Ivy show no interest in participating at this juncture.

 

“The Pioneer League is not competitive”- The other side of the argument is that the teams in the Pioneer League do not schedule properly and are not competitive when playing against teams from the other auto bid conferences.  Statistically, since 2002 the Pioneer League is 7-25 against teams from auto bid conferences.  They were outscored in these games by a total of 1132-486.  In the 7 games that they won, their opponents combined for a record of 18-54, although one of those wins was against a 2007 Fordham team that won the Patriot League and lost in the first round to Massachusetts.  There are two teams, Butler and Campbell, that did not play teams from automatic bid conferences during this period.  The other issue that makes the Pioneer League appear to be weak is the losses to sub D-I opponents.  The 10 teams in the league have combined for 53 losses to sub D-I opponents since 2002.

 

It’s hard to disagree with this side.  If the Pioneer League intends to participate in the playoffs, some changes need to be made in order for them to be competitive. The changes need to start with the schedules.  The teams in the Pioneer League need to schedule less sub D-I teams and more teams from auto-bid conferences.  Hopefully with some changes the Pioneer League will find itself competitive and their playoff match-ups won’t end up like a 1 seed playing a 16 seed in March Madness.

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