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CAA powers likely to sit out the playoffs

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's not a set-in-stone policy, just a consideration the NCAA selection committee has always followed for the FCS playoffs.

The committee has never given an at-large berth to a team that has fewer than seven wins against Division I competition.

A team like Coastal Carolina's 2010 squad got in with a 6-5 record, but with the automatic bid which went to the Big South Conference champion for the first time.

If, and really when, the FCS playoffs are expanded from 20 to 24 teams, then the selection committee can start to deviate from the seven-win thought process for at-large teams.

William & Mary, despite a big senior season from running back Jonathan Grimes, is a disappointing 4-4.
But unless many of the bubble teams fall apart in November, especially in the lower-ranked FCS conferences - something not out of the question - the NCAA likely won't allow, say, a 7-4 team with only six D-I wins to get into the playoffs.

Montana learned the hard way last year when its record 17 straight appearances in the playoffs ended after a 7-4 season (one win was against a D-II school).

This year's stunning list of playoff victims figures to include Delaware and William & Mary, two teams in basically everyone's Top 10 at the start of the season. Delaware played in the FCS title game this past January and William & Mary was the prohibitive preseason favorite in CAA Football.

Both teams made the mistake of scheduling both a Bowl Subdivision and Division II opponent in the same season, meaning they would have to win seven of their other nine games unless they upset their FBS opponent. Neither did as Delaware lost to Navy and William & Mary fell to Virginia.

In the turned-upside-down CAA, 38 was the lonely number on Saturday. Delaware fell to Rhode Island, 38-34, and William & Mary lost to Towson, 38-27, dropping both perennial powers to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in conference action.

Three-game winning streaks would get both teams to 7-4, but with only six D- I wins.

First, they need to get to the finish line in that shape. Then they need a change in "policy" by the selection committee come Nov. 20 - Selection Sunday.

NOT GOING QUIETLY

Unlike Delaware and William & Mary, Eastern Washington can still get to seven Division I wins despite its brutal 0-4 start.

The defending FCS champion Eagles (4-4, 4-2 Big Sky), who seem to endure a key injury each week (the latest: defensive tackle Renard Williams was injured early in the game and didn't return), staged a courageous, fourth-quarter rally from 28-13 down against Sacramento State to force overtime at 35 and then win it there, 42-35, on Jordan Talley's 1-yard run.

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and wide receiver Nicholas Edwards connected for four touchdowns in regulation. Sac State played without injured QB Jeff Fleming.

"We just responded," Mitchell said. "It's one of those things we had to do last year - we just had to dig down deep. It's everything we work for and it's our playoff game, so go win it. Thankfully, we came out and did that."

If the Eagles get past Portland State next Saturday, which is no small task these days, they get a bye before their final two games at Cal Poly (Nov. 12) and Idaho State (Nov. 19).

TOUGHER SCHEDULE

As expected, No. 1-ranked Georgia Southern cruised past Presbyterian, 48-14, in non-conference action on Saturday. The schedule, though, is about to get much tougher for the Eagles.

Three of their four remaining games are on the road against 2010 Southern Conference co-champions Appalachian State and Wofford, and the University of Alabama. Their only home game is against The Citadel (3-4), which has beaten Jacksonville and Chattanooga, and played close games with Appalachian State and Elon.

PRESLEY SWITCHES TO CORNERBACK

When Georgia Southern heads to Appalachian State next Saturday, the Eagles will have to contend with Mountaineers standout DeAndre Presley ... as in DeAndre Presley the cornerback.

After redshirt sophomore Jamal Jackson wrestled away the starting quarterback job, Presley switched to the other side of the ball on Saturday in a 35-17 Southern Conference win over Samford. He made his presence felt by forcing a fumble on just the seventh play of the game and finishing with six solo tackles.

Stunning news with impressive results.

SAN DIEGO GOES EAST, BUT REALLY SOUTH

The coast-to-coast flight home must have seemed endless to San Diego after the Toreros went all the way to North Carolina and got trounced by Campbell, 48-24 - their worst loss to a Pioneer Football League opponent since 1999 - to fall from first place.

Campbell forced six turnovers and quarterback Braden Smith rushed for three touchdowns and threw for one.

Jacksonville (6-2, 5-0) took sole possession of first place with a 56-13 win over Davidson, the Dolphins' record 16th straight in the league. They still have to go to the two second-place squads, Drake (6-2, 4-1) and San Diego (6-2, 4-1), in what should be a superb end to the league title race.

The PFL champion won't be headed to the playoffs, though. It's the only eligible conference without an automatic bid.

CONFERENCE UNBEATENS

San Diego might have lost for the first time in conference play Saturday, but there remains 19 teams without a conference loss.

Included are six conferences with a pair of unbeatens: Big South (Liberty and Stony Brook); CAA Football (Maine and Towson); Great West (Cal Poly and South Dakota); Ivy League (Harvard and Penn); Missouri Valley Football Conference (Northern Iowa and North Dakota State); and Patriot League (Lehigh and Holy Cross).

AROUND THE NATION

Sam Houston State throttled slumping McNeese State, 38-14, Saturday night to remain the Southland Conference leader. Tim Flanders led the way by rushing for 162 yards and two touchdowns ... Two-time defending Southland champion Stephen F. Austin (2-5) ended a five-game losing streak emphatically, beating Nicholls State, 57-21. Sophomore Brady Attaway completed 30-of-49 passes for 364 yards and seven touchdowns, including three to Cordell Roberson. For Nicholls, Chika Madu returned two kickoffs for touchdowns (91 and 94 yards) ... Southeastern Louisiana (2-5) stopped Texas State's five-game winning streak, 38-28, although Bobcats freshman Terrance Franks rushed for 234 yards ... Maybe the Southern Conference isn't so top-heavy after all. Furman derailed No. 5 Wofford, 26-21, as Jerodis Williams rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns. The Paladins, who have a first-year head coach in Bruce Fowler, have won nine of the last 11 meetings with Wofford ... Missouri State (1-7) earned its first win, 31-17 over Western Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference. Jermaine Saffold caught four passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, moving within two yards of becoming the Bears' all-time receiving yards leader ... In Towson's win at William & Mary, freshman running back Terrance West had 144 rushing yards and scored three first-half touchdowns ... Senior wide receiver Tre Gray became Richmond's all-time leader in receptions (208) and receiving yards (2,725) with a 12-catch, 128-yard game in the Spiders' 23-22 loss to No. 9 Maine ... A Gillette Stadium crowd of 24,022 watched New Hampshire top Massachusetts, 27-21, in the Colonial Clash. Dontra Peters rushed for a pair of touchdowns and amassed 208 all-purpose yards ... With 10 receptions against BYU, Idaho State junior Rodrick Rumble reached double figures for the seventh time in eight games. The Bengals lost, 56-3 ... Tough- to-tackle Cody Kirk rumbled for a career-high 202 yards and one touchdown in No. 4 Montana State's 31-21 win over Northern Colorado ... South Dakota senior linebacker Adam Broders had 14 tackles and two interceptions, including a touchdown return, in a 27-24 win over UC Davis. The Coyotes and Cal Poly lead the Great West with 2-0 conference records and meet at Cal Poly next Saturday ... Austin Minefee totaled 286 all-purpose yards with three touchdowns as Southern Utah won at Weber State, 35-28, in a meeting of future Big Sky opponents ... Chattanooga's Terrell Robinson had his third straight strong outing in place of injured B.J. Coleman in a 42-18 win over Elon. Robinson completed 11-of-13 passes for 140 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 115 yards on 14 carries ... In the Ohio Valley Conference, up-and- down Eastern Kentucky topped Tennessee State, 33-22, as junior running back Matt Denham rushed for a career-high 226 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries ... Jacksonville State (5-2) was no match for Kentucky in falling, 38-14. Gabriel Chambers returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the loss ... Georgetown (6-2, 2-1 Patriot League) clinched its first winning season since 1999 with a 40-17 win over Colgate. Junior linebacker Robert McCabe collected 15 tackles and scored on an interception return ... How's this for depth I: A week after Colton Chapple threw for five touchdowns, Harvard quarterback Collier Winters played for the first time in over a month and completed 34-of-42 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-39 win over Princeton ... How's this for depth II: In a 38-16 win over Charleston Southern, Liberty's Pat Kelly went over 1,000 career receiving yards (1,201) to give the Flames four active players over that milestone. He joined Chris Summers, B.J. Hayes and Mike Brown (now the quarterback) ... Trever Austin's 31-yard field goal as time expired lifted Gardner-Webb to a 26-24 win at Coastal Carolina. The freshman kicked four field goals ... Go figure: Monmouth (4-3) is 0-3 at home and 4-0 on the road. Bad news: the Hawks host Duquense next Saturday ... Senior Taylor Harris became Dayton's first 200-yard rusher since 2000 when he gained 216 yards on 28 carries in a 30-28 PFL win at Morehead State ... Quarterback Frank Rivera started the game, but Grambling State coach Doug Williams' freshman son D.J. finished it by throwing a 7-yard TD pass to Mario Louis in overtime of a 30-24 win over hard-luck Mississippi Valley State ... Both unbeaten MEAC teams, Norfolk State and North Carolina A&T, lost in Week 8, leaving five teams within one game of Norfolk State's lead ... The two longest touchdown runs of the FCS season have been surrendered by St. Francis (Pa.). Youngstown State's Jordan Thompson had a 95- yarder in a 49-23, North Dakota State's Sam Ojuri with a 95-yarder in Week 2.

A LOOK AHEAD

There are a number of premier conference games on the schedule next Saturday.

There are two top six match-ups: No. 1 Georgia Southern at No. 6 Appalachian State in the Southern Conference and No. 2 Northern Iowa at No. 3 North Dakota State in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Top conference teams also will be meeting with Tennessee Tech at Jacksonville State in the Ohio Valley Conference, South Dakota at Cal Poly in the Great West, North Carolina A&T at Norfolk State in the MEAC, and Alabama State versus Alabama A&M at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., in the SWAC.

Other big conference games include: Big Sky - Weber State at Montana and Portland State at Eastern Washington; CAA Football - James Madison at Old Dominion and Delaware at Towson; Ivy League - Penn at Brown; Missouri Valley Football Conference - Illinois State at Southern Illinois; Northeast Conference - Duquesne at Monmouth and Albany at Wagner; OVC - Eastern Kentucky at Murray State; Patriot League - Lehigh at Colgate and Georgetown at Holy Cross; Southern Conference - Elon at Wofford and Furman at Chattanooga; Southland Conference - Lamar at Sam Houston State; and SWAC - Jackson State versus Prairie View A&M at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.

Northwestern State visits Texas State in an attractive non-conference game.

Sacks or scores, contact Craig Haley at
chaley@sportsnetwork.com.


Follow Craig Haley on Twitter and Facebook.

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