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'Hot' teams benefit some FCS coaches

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - "Coaches on the Hot Seat" stories always make for stimulating talk even though it's an awkward topic because it deals so bluntly with a person's livelihood.

Few of us would want our job status bandied about in a public forum. Still, it's a fact of life among coaches because the buck usually stops with their won-loss record.

Half of the six head coaches listed in an In the FCS Huddle column on the eve of the season have faired pretty well as the season moves into November and the final three weeks of the regular season.

Considering most coaches are terrific people who care about developing their players both on and off the field, we should all generally wish for those on the hot seat to work their way off it through successful seasons.

Montana will return to the FCS playoffs under head coach Robin Pflugrad.
It was probably surprising to some to see Robin Pflugrad's name on the hot seat before the season. But the possibility of Montana's dominant program missing the FCS playoffs for the second straight season would have created a stir in Missoula. Prior to Pflugrad taking over last season and then missing the playoffs, the Grizzlies had made a record 17 straight FCS playoff appearances from 1993-2009.

But with Saturday's 45-10 romp over Weber State, Montana (7-2) became eligible for the playoffs. Even better, after cruising through Division II Western Oregon next Saturday, the Grizzlies will go to Montana State on Nov. 19 with a chance to earn at least a share of the conference title and its automatic playoff bid.

Also in the Big Sky, Marshall Sperbeck has been charged with getting Sacramento State's program to a higher level after years of mediocrity, but the Hornets are just 3-5, with wins against Montana and Pac-12 member Oregon State. Go figure how that's happened.

Sacred Heart's Paul Gorham had only one winning record in the Northeast Conference in his first seven seasons, but the Pioneers (5-3, 3-2) have their best win total since 2008. They were picked eighth in the nine-school conference's preseason poll.

Tennessee Tech's Watson Brown has lifted his Ohio Valley Conference squad (5-2, 3-1) into the Top 25 and a share of first place after Saturday's rousing, 21-14 win at Jacksonville State.

Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown has his team tied for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Also in the OVC, Rick Christophel probably isn't out of the woods at Austin Peay. The Governors are 2-6, trying to reverse going backward as a program. They are 17-35 in Christophel's five seasons.

Southeastern Louisiana has lost its first four Southland Conference games to drop coach Mike Lucas' record in conference games to 12-32. His 2-6 squad gives up way too many points and plays high-scoring Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin in its next two games.

OH, YES, THE BOBCATS PLAYED, TOO

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the games involving No. 1 Georgia Southern at No. 5 Appalachian State and No. 2 Northern Iowa at No. 3 North Dakota State, No. 4 Montana State continued its roll through the Big Sky Conference.

The Bobcats (8-1, 6-0) routed Idaho State, 54-13, as Cody Kirk rushed for 184 yards and Tray Robinson added 154 in a 415-yard ground assault. They could move up to No. 2 in Monday's new poll.

BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN

Jerry Rice didn't just get to celebrate his son Jerry Jr. seeing the first action of his UCLA career on Saturday.

The namesake of the new award for FCS freshman of the year could cheer his alma mater, Mississippi Valley State, ending a 19-game losing streak with a 12-9 win over 2010 SWAC champion Texas Southern.

Garrick Jones connected with J.J. Thurman for a 12-yard touchdown reception and the Delta Devils laid down a stout defense in improving to 1-8.

AROUND THE NATION

Besides likely new No. 1 North Dakota State, Sam Houston State (8-0) is the only other unbeaten team in the FCS. Sophomore Richard Sincere rushed for 102 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Bearkats devoured Lamar, 66-0, in the Southland Conference on Saturday ... Cal Poly's 27-24 win over South Dakota clinched at least a share of the final Great West Conference title ... For the first time since its 2009 season opener, Southern Utah had more rushing yards (251) than passing yards (238) in Saturday's 34-3 win over UC Davis ... Senior wide receiver Patrick Walker did everything he could to try to get Northern Colorado (0-9) its first win. He caught 10 passes for 315 yards, breaking both the school and Big Sky Conference records for receiving yards in a game, but the Bears fell to North Dakota, 27-25. Zeb Miller's 54-yard field goal with less than two minutes to play provided the winning margin ... Jordan Johnson (six touchdown passes) and Jabin Sambrano (four touchdown receptions) tied Montana single-game records in its 45-10 win over Weber State ... Brown snapped Penn's 18-game Ivy League winning streak with a 6-0 victory. Sophomore kicker Alex Norocea provided all of the scoring with 39- and 42-yards field goals. The Quakers' loss left No. 24 Harvard alone in first place, one game ahead of Brown, Penn and Yale. The Crimson (6-1, 4-0) beat Dartmouth, 41-10, with their first-ever trio of 100-yard rushers - Treavor Scales, Collier Winters and Zach Boden, who also ran for two touchdowns each ... Campbell (5-3, 4-2 Pioneer Football League) made it four straight wins with a 26-20 triple-overtime triumph at Davidson. Braden Smith completed a 12-yard pass to Chad McMichael with just 13 seconds remaining in the game to force overtime, then scored a diving touchdown in the third OT ... Dayton won the 1,000th game in program history, routing Valparaiso, 49-10 ... Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstien ran for 217 yards and four touchdowns as No. 9 Wofford topped Elon, 48-28, in the Southern Conference ... Carl Robinson and Domonic Jones and John Synovec all blocked field goals as The Citadel pounded VMI, 41-14. The Bulldogs have blocked nine field goals this season, including five by Jones ... St. Francis's Kyle Harbridge rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries as the Red Flash beat Central Connecticut State, 27-13, for their first Northeast Conference win. Harbridge, a junior, is 102 yards and two rushing touchdowns short of St. Francis single-season records ... Tyler Smith's 42 carries passed Harbridge's game as the FCS season high and he turned them into 212 yards in Bucknell's 39-13 win at Lafayette ... Morgan State (5-3, 4-1) remained on the heels of Norfolk State (7-2, 5-1) in the MEAC race. In just his fourth college game, Tracy Martin ran for a game- high 154 yards and scored the only points in a 12-0 victory over Delaware State ... Stony Brook (5-3, 3-0) knew just how to combat the nor'easter blasting the East Coast on Saturday. Senior Brock Jackolski rushed for a career-high 193 yards and a touchdown, and Miguel Maysonet totaled 191 yards and three touchdowns ... A crowd of 66,473 watched as Alabama A&M held off Alabama State, 20-19, in the Magic City Classic at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Kaderius Lacy rushed for 189 yards and one touchdown, and Chartavious Keith blocked the extra point attempt after the Hornets pulled within 20-19 with 10:08 remaining in the game.

A LOOK AHEAD

Two of the upstarts in CAA Football will collide on Saturday when first-place Maine (7-1, 5-0) hosts Towson (6-2, 4-1), which is tied for second with New Hampshire.

There's no FCS playoff bid in the Pioneer Football League, but Saturday's action will be terrific with first-place Jacksonville (6-2, 5-0) going to Drake (7-2, 5-1) and San Diego (6-2, 4-1) going to Dayton (6-3, 4-2).

Other big conference games include: CAA - James Madison at New Hampshire and Richmond at Old Dominion; Big Sky - Montana State at Weber State; Great West - Cal Poly at UC Davis; Ivy League - Brown at Yale; MEAC - Morgan State at Bethune-Cookman; Missouri Valley - North Dakota State at Indiana State and Youngstown State at Northern Iowa; Northeast Conference - Bryant at Albany; Ohio Valley Conference - Eastern Kentucky at Jacksonville State and Murray State at Tennessee Tech; Patriot League - Holy Cross at Lehigh; Southern Conference - Appalachian State at Furman and The Citadel at Georgia Southern; Southland Conference - Central Arkansas at Northwestern State; and SWAC - Alabama A&M at Alcorn State, Alabama State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Grambling State at Jackson State

UT Martin will step up in class with a visit to Mississippi State.

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


Follow Craig Haley on Twitter and Facebook.

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