Week 9: JMU in Game of the Week and Updated Playoff Predictions

The beauty of college football is that one week can make or break a season.  That especially holds true for I-AA where one bad game could cost you a shot at the national title because of the limited amount of spots available in the playoff.  This means that even a #1 ranked team in the nation is not immune to falling victim if they are not careful.

Griff Yancey helped JMU rout Villanova, 35-7 in Harrisonburg last year.  The going won't be as easy this year.

Griff Yancey helped JMU rout Villanova, 35-7 in Harrisonburg last year. The going won't be as easy this year.

James Madison has so far played the best football since its national championship year in 2004 and they are going to need to be on the top of their game this Saturday as they face a very game Villanova team that should be ranked higher than 7.  The Wildcats have absolutely manhandled every team they have played including Richmond at least according to Coach Matthews who stated that ‘Nova should have beaten them by more than they did.

It should be noted that JMU is about to face its fourth top 10 team this year.  This is incredible and will go down as the one of the toughest schedules in the history of I-AA.  What will be more incredible is if the Dukes get past Villanova because that would make them 4-0 against top 10 teams.  Hopefully JMU will be prepared to go against arguably their toughest test yet.  GO DUKES!

Onto the new playoff predictions!

We first start with notable updates from the Big Eight conferences.  Southern Illinois routed Youngstown State, 33-0 to help keep its inside track in the Mizzou Valley.  In the Ohio Valley, Tennessee State eeked out a win over Austin Peay, 37-34 to stay undefeated and atop the conference.  While we won’t know much about the Patriot league for awhile, we’ll keep Lafayette atop after their convincing win over Liberty last weekend.  There’s no change for now in the Southern conference but crucial games await this weekend when #4 Wofford travels to Elon to take on the 3rd ranked Phoenix while #2 App State hosts 18th ranked Furman.  By the end of Saturday, we will know who the power teams are there.  Finally, the MEAC title may be on the line this weekend as the Hampton Pirates travel to South Carolina State in a battle of the only two undefeated teams.  Hampton stays for now.

Liberty is now gone thanks to their lackluster performance.  We can also eliminate UMass after the Minutemen were routed at home by Richmond.  Those two eliminations open the door for Northern Iowa and New Hampshire to slide in.   Here’s how the new matchups could look:

1 JAMES MADISON v. Hampton

NORTHERN IOWA v. Central Arkansas

VILLANOVA v. Lafayette

4 WOFFORD v. Richmond

3 ELON v. Northern Arizona

MONTANA v. Cal Poly

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS v. New Hampshire

2 APPALACHIAN STATE v. Tennessee State

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Week 8 Means One Thing: First Playoff Predicitions

Well that and JMU is off this week so there isn’t much to talk about.  Just to update those of you who have been living in a sealed room for the last seven weeks, JMU’s football team is having the best season in its history up to this point.  The Dukes have disposed of three teams who were in the top five when they played them and have a potential top five matchup looming again should Villanova move up between now and next Saturday.

Scotty McGee celebrates his Game-winning punt return TD against Richmond, 10/09/08

Scotty McGee celebrates his game-winning punt return TD against Richmond as James Madison remained undefeated in conference play.

Meanwhile, we are well into the heart of the football season.  It is hard to believe that it is more than halfway done but that only makes the excitement build as the playoff picture starts to take shape.  That being said, it is time to start looking where teams stand and what their chances are of getting into the FCS dance.

Once again the CAA has shown that it is, top to bottom, the best conference in the country.  As proof I offer just some results from last weekend: William & Mary, considered on the lower end of the conference, upsets #4 New Hampshire in Durham; Delaware, a finalist in the championship just last year, gets beaten at home by once lowly Maine who has shown they can hang with anyone.  How about Northeastern who is lighting up scoreboards on any foe they face?  They could easily knock out UNH this weekend.  Towson has a fantastic offense behind QB Sean Schaefer. Even though they don’t have the wins to prove it, I’d bet on them against most teams from the other conferences.

These are all arguments in what has become an annual rant for me saying that no less than five teams from the CAA should be in the 16 team bracket.  Sure I’ll give credit to the Southern or Missouri Valley Conferences when their teams start playing some decent competition and they prove they should be in the talk.

Now, let’s first understand a few things about the playoffs.  The Ivy League and the Southwestern Athletic Conference abstain from postseason play for their own reasons but that does not really affect anything as no team for either of those conferences are in the top 25.

Next we look at the conferences that get automatic berths for winning the overall title.  The following are the eight conferences with the teams that right now look like they are in the best position to win the overall title:

Big Sky – Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

Colonial – James Madison Dukes

Missouri Valley (formerly Gateway) – Southern Illinois Salukis

Mid-Eastern Athletic – Hampton Pirates

Ohio Valley – Tennessee State Tigers

Patriot – Lafayette Leopards

Southern – Appalachian State Mountaineers

Southland – Central Arkansas Bears

That leaves us with eight spots to fill with each of the previous conferences eligible for at-large births along with four other conferences: Great West, Big South, Northeast, and Pioneer.  This does not mean that a team from any of those four conferences will get in.  It all depends on how they measure up against the teams from the Big Eight.

In fact, there are really only two teams who look like they could come out from the other four: Cal Poly and Liberty.  So if we take those two, that leaves six spots from the Big Eight which means that there will be some very good teams missing out.

So let’s say we look first at the CAA:  Richmond and Villanova have to get in.  UMass and New Hampshire are on the bubble but have very strong resumes.  But let’s go ahead and give two spots to the CAA here.

Southern is next:  Elon and Wofford look good to get in. Other than that, it’s tough to make arguments. So give them two as well.

That leaves two more spots up for grabs.  Montana will grab one if they stay on course due to their preceding reputation and the committee will have to decide on the last one.  I think there is no argument that we give it to either UMass or New Hampshire.  Four CAA teams is a must and right now let’s just say UMass gets it based on being ranked higher and looking like the more consistent team.

So here are the 16 playoff teams:  Northern Arizona, James Madison, Southern Illinois, Hampton, Tennessee State, Lafayette, Appalachian State, Central Arkansas, Richmond, Villanova, UMass, Elon, Wofford, Montana, Cal Poly, Liberty.

Now for the matchups, the committee tries to pair teams in terms of location so that first round trips aren’t too burdensome on the away team.  There are positives and negatives to this but generally there hasn’t been much opposition to it.  Based on rankings, relative location and making sure to have inter-conference matchups, here are possible matchups (home team in caps):

1 JAMES MADISON vs. Liberty

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS vs. Central Arkansas

UMASS vs. Lafayette

4 WOFFORD vs. Richmond

3 ELON vs. Hampton

MONTANA vs. Cal Poly

VILLANOVA vs. Northern Arizona

2 APPALACHIAN STATE vs. Tennessee State

The only problem location-wise seems to be N. Arizona having to come across the country to play Villanova but those are the breaks sometimes (just ask Wofford who had to go to Montana in the first round last year).  This will definitely change as the weeks progress but its nice that we’re back in this part of the year.

FCS Final Four – No Drama!

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While our friends in I-A spend another postseason having the same argument that a playoff system needs to be implemented, we lucky I-AA’ers get to enjoy that luxury. I’m sure all of you have friends that went to I-A schools who are extremely jealous of us at this point of the season. Being from the DC area, I know a ton of people from Virginia Tech who are so upset that they don’t get a shot at the national title. Hey guys, what can I say? Blame the system and hope that the “Plus 1” system(courtesy NY Post) comes sooner than later or you’ll be having this conversation at this time every year. 

Meanwhile, I-AA has had quite an exciting postseason so far. I got a chance to watch both the Eastern Washington/App State and Delaware/N. Iowa games and they were both thrillers.  I give a lot of credit to the Mountaineers for silencing critics (including me) who thought they wouldn’t be able to handle the high powered Eagle offense as they jumped out to a big lead and held on for a 38-35 victory.  Also, what an impressive performance by the best offensive tandem in the country of QB Joe Flacco and RB Omar Cuff as they quieted the UNI dome and sent the #1 ranked Panthers packing 39-27.

Meanwhile, in the more conventional games, Southern Illinois methodically took care of business at home once again by taking down last year’s runner up UMass 34-27. Nick Hill was once again on his game and I cannot wait to watch two juggernaut offenses square off this Saturday in Carbondale when Hill’s Salukis meet Delaware.  Also, Richmond kept CAA hopes for a national title alive as well by throttling Wofford in Spartanburg 21-10. While I’m sure a lot of people were hoping for a Southern conference rematch between the Terriers and App State, I’m very intrigued as to how this Richmond Spider team will fare in Boone with the crowd noise and facing its toughest test of the season.  Armanti Edwards and Kevin Richardson vs. Eric Ward and Tim Hightower should be a very entertaining chess match.  They run a similar offense and it will be up to the opposing defenses to decide this.

Predictions:

Southern Illinois vs. Delaware, Dec 8, 4 pm ESPN/ESPNHD –  This is where it gets so tough to predict with how even the teams have become.  I picked Delaware in the upset last week and there’s no reason to change that now. I think Flacco and Cuff are just on another planet right now and there is nothing that can stand in their way.  It will be a closer one than last week though.   Fightin’ Blue Hens 31, Salukis 27

Appalachian State vs. Richmond, Dec 8, 8 pm, ESPN2/ESPN2HD – I love Richmond and think they are playing at an extremely high level right now. That being said, Appalachian State isn’t the two time defending champs for nothing plus they shut me up last week by getting past EWU. The Mountaineers haven’t lost a playoff game in over two years now and that’s a streak that I can’t bet against.  Mountaineers 27, Spiders 23

FCS Round 2 – Showdowns Galore!

Before I get to the preview, I came across this video that App State put together for the playoffs. Very well done using Jeremy Piven from his NBA Playoffs bits. If anything, it’s good for getting the FCS exposure on the internet and to show the world how you’re supposed to decide a national champion.  Thanks to ASU Video for this.

I’m getting over JMU’s heartbreaking loss in Boone last weekend and I’ve decided I’m good enough to write this preview so here it goes.

VS.     

It’s a battle tested #1 against a team that was dozing off by the fourth quarter of its game as Northern Iowa hosts Delaware. The Hens are coming off a 44-7 shellacking of in-state rival(can we call them that now?) Delaware State. UD looked superior in all facets of the game and had the game won by the half. The same cannot be said for the Panthers. Facing elimination with 1:10 left, their superstar QB Eric Sanders led them down the field 71 yards and threw a 15 yard strike to knock off the upstart New Hampshire Wildcats.  The question now becomes what team benefitted more? The one that got a challenge or the one that looked like it was playing a Pee Wee team? Knowing the Hens, they’re coming into this game believing they’ll win it and why doubt them? They have the best RB in the nation in Omar Cuff and I swear Joe Flacco looked like Brett Favre out there the way he was zinging passes to his receivers.  But the Panthers are once again at home and Sanders is no slouch. They too are a high powered offense and can score points with the best of them.  These two teams are so similar that its hard to find an X factor. I think however this is the upset special of the week. UNH almost beat N. Iowa and they relied on Ricky Santos. Delaware has a terrific QB but they have an even better RB and that multi-dimensional offense is what puts the Hens over the top.  You heard it here first (I think).  2 pm on ESPN Gameplan and ESPN360.com Delaware 42, Northern Iowa 39

VS.    

Similar matchup to the one above in that one team (S. Illinois) walked all over its last opponent and the other (UMass) had a tougher game than they thought. I like this matchup a lot because it pits two of the best QBs in the nation against each other in the Salukis’ Nick Hill and the Minutemen’s Liam Coen. Coen had his best statistical day of the year with 419 yards passing and 4 TDs in UMass’ closer than it looks victory over Fordham 49-35. Hill wasn’t bad either: 234 yards and 2 TDs in the win over E. Illinois.  The key to the game is Coen beating that tough Saluki defense.  If he can manage it, I think the Minutemen have a chance. But to me, Hill and Co. are playing too well to be beaten at home and their stifling defense is what will make the difference on this day.  3:15 pm on ESPN Gameplan and ESPN360.com Southern Illinois 27, UMass 20

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Yet another showdown that pits one team lucky to still be here (ASU) and one that looked like it should’ve been seeded (EWU). We’ll see two different offenses clash as the more traditional Eagles with their pocket passing go against the spread option of Appalachian.  The key here is the Mountaineers keeping the EWU offense grounded which will probably mean off the field. Matt Nicholls and Dale Morris absolutely carved up McNeese State’s defense (434 yards passing and 130 yards rushing respectively) as the Eagles had 600+ offensive yards were on the field on offense for almost 2/3 of the time. ASU’s defense looked porous last week against JMU giving up 436 yards. If that doesn’t change, it will be a long day for the Boone faithful. Armanti Edwards has to take charge by scoring early and often especially if Kevin Richardson isn’t healthy.  Though it will be close and App will be helped by the home crowd, I see Eastern Washington continuing their impressive run as they move on the semifinals.  Noon on ESPN Gameplan and ESPN360.com  Eastern Washington 34, Appalachian State 25

 VS.      

I figured I owed it to the Terriers to give them a scarier looking photo especially after beating the Grizzlies in Montana. That’s one reward and the other is getting a much deserved home game against a very strong Richmond team that absolutely dismantled Eastern Kentucky last week. If it weren’t for Delaware’s Omar Cuff, Tim Hightower would be the best RB in the country and they’ll need him to shine once more if they’re going to beat this Wofford team. While this Richmond team is one of the best in the nation, I just can’t go against a team that has beaten both Appalachian State and Montana in the same season. Let’s give some respect to these Terriers. 7 pm on ESPN Gameplan and ESPN360.com  Wofford 23, Richmond 21

FCS First Round Wrap Up

What a wild weekend of FCS playoff football! There were two undefeated teams that went down, two games that came down to the wire and some unexpected blowouts. Hopefully, the rest of the way will be just as exciting.

My two cents on the JMU game:

Before I go into all the games, let me just say that I have been a huge supporter of Mickey Matthews and all that he has done for my alma mater. That being said, the last five minutes of the game on Saturday were inexcusable. I don’t like saying “We should be there and not them” but that is definitely the case this time. The game was essentially over. Twice. Mickey should have known better than to go for it on 4th and 1 with the lead and 5 minutes to go in a hostile stadium. He also should’ve known to either down the ball or just kick a field goal at the end instead of running the ball constantly and risk fumbling it away. I won’t blame the JMU athletic department if they fire Matthews after this because it was unfathomable. I appreciate everything that he has done for us including the national championship in 2004 but I don’t see him surviving the costly mistakes from Saturday.

Delaware 44, Delaware State 7 – This was a bit anti-climatic. The Hens jumped all over the Hornets’ mistakes from the beginnning and the rout was on. Omar Cuff had a school record 288 rushing yards, most of which he picked up in the first half and scored four times to put his singles season TD total at 37. It was the first meeting between the two schools who are just 45 miles apart but unfortunately it did not live up to the hype. The win means the Hens (9-3) will now face top seeded Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on December 1 at 2 pm.

Appalachian State 28, James Madison 27 – Armanti Edwards’ TD run with 1:10 left put the Mountaineers ahead and Pierre Banks recovered a Jamal Sullivan fumble at the ASU 5 to seal the game. Despite being outgained in almost every offensive category, ASU took advantage of three costly JMU turnovers and putting points on the board after each one. Payton award finalist RB Kevin Richardson was injured in the third quarter and his status will be updated later in the week. The Mountaineers will be at home again this weekend to face the Eagles of Eastern Washington on December 1 at Noon.

UMass 49, Fordham 35  – This game was very dicey for the Minutemen as they had to withstand a very game Rams team that for awhile looked like the better squad out there. Liam Coen picked a great day to have his best single game performance with 419 yards passing and four TD passes. Fordham however played tough, tying the game twice including 35-35 a few minutes into the 4th quarter. But UMass’ running game became the difference as Matt Lawrence scampered for two scores to put the game away. UMass next travels to Carbondale for a date with Southern Illinois at 3:30 on December 1.

Wofford 23, Montana 22 – Anyone but a few diehard Terrier fans see this one coming? Michael Hobbs ran in for at TD from six yards out with 32 seconds remaining to beat the previously undefeated Grizzlies. The story was Wofford’s defense as they sacked Cole Bergquist five times and constantly kept Montana’s offense off balance. The Terriers also survived three turnovers and the 13 degree weather at kickoff. Their reward is a home game against Richmond on December 1 at 7 pm.

Southern Illinois 30, Eastern Illinois 11 –  The story going into the game was the efficient play of Saluki QB Nick Hill. He didn’t disappoint. Hill had 264 total yards and a TD to lead Southern Illinois to business-like win over what seemed to be an overmatched Panther team. Eastern Illinois doomed itself with two turnovers and neither Cody Reeder or Ademola Adeniji could get it going until it was too late. The Salukis now get a home game against the Minutemen of UMass at 3:30 as part of ESPN’s package.

Richmond 31, Eastern Kentucky 14 – Another business-like win for a Spider team that looks like it could be a real contender for the title this year. Tim Hightower set a school record for postseason yards in a game with 180 and also scored a TD as Richmond dismantled a Colonel team that many were expecting more out of.  But EKU came out flat and promptly turned the ball over four times while not forcing any of their own to ensure they would not be a factor in this game.  The Spiders next travel to Wofford for a 7 pm game on December 1.

Northern Iowa 38, New Hampshire 35 – The Wildcats join JMU in the group of teams that probably should be practicing for their quarterfinal game this week but won’t. UNH led 35-31 with seven seconds remaining but Panther QB Eric Sanders hit Montari Leonard for the game winning 15 yard TD. It capped a drive that went 71 yards in just 1:11 and saved the day for UNI. The game did prove however that UNH belonged in the playoffs despite a 4-4 conference record. It was all that anyone could have hoped for in a game that matched two of the nation’s best QBs in Sanders and UNH QB Ricky Santos. The Panthers next host the Fightin Blue Hens of Delaware at 2 pm on December 1.

Eastern Washington 44, McNeese State 15 – So much for the Bayou effect on visiting teams. Matt Nicholls had 459 total yards and Dale Morris ran for 130 as the Eagles pounded the previously undefeated Cowboys into submission. Eastern Washington outgained McNeese 434 yards to 185 and also recovered three turnovers in the rout. Things however won’t get any easier as they next have to go cross country to face the Mountaineers of Appalachian State at noon on December 1.

FCS Playoffs – Intrigue and Solid Matchups

Well just when you think you have it all figured out, the FCS Selection Committee does something to shock the nation once again. This year I was actually pleased with the brackets for the most part but one game caught me off guard and I’ll talk about that later on.  But here it is, the 2007 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Postseason Bracket!

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The bracket show opened with the shocker of the day. The New Hampshire Wildcats, despite a 4-4 conference record, made it into the tourney and their prize is a date in Cedar Falls with the #1 overall seeded Panthers. While shocking, I can also see why the committee decided to use a CAA team since there were so many questionable teams this year in terms of postseason resumes. This also matches up two Payton Award Finalist QBs with UNI’s Eric Sanders and UNH’s Ricky Santos both trying to win their first championship rings. While this game could become a shootout, I think the difference will be Northern Iowa’s defense as they get the key stops and preserve victory for the home crowd.   Northern Iowa 38, New Hampshire 27

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Yes folks its actually going to happen. For the first time ever, Delaware and Delaware State will meet in what is being dubbed “The First Battle of the First State.” This game is long overdue and what better way than to have the first meeting come in a do or die situation. Expect Delaware Stadium to be rocking as it already is one of the louder stadiums in the country but add Delaware State’s fan base, people who have longed to get a shot at the Hens for decades, to the mix and you get a recipe for one of the best matchups of the playoffs. The best part is that its televised this Friday at 1:30 pm on ESPN. Both offenses rely on their passing game as Delaware’s Joe Flacco and DSU’s Vashon Winston both have the ability to beat you with their arms. That may mean the deciding factor in this is Delaware’s Payton Award finalist RB Omar Cuff. Cuff has had an incredible year with 29 rushing TD’s. If the Hornets can’t stop him, expect the Hens to take this one in Newark.  This is shaping up to be a dandy.  Delaware 34, Delaware State 31

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The Panthers are making the three hour trip from Charleston to Carbondale for this intra-state rivalry that sees the 2nd place finishers in the OVC and the Gateway conferences clash. For Eastern Illinois, senior RB Ademola Adeniji finished the regular season with just under 1200 rushing yards and 15 TD’s and is the key to their offense. He needs to have a big game against SIU to give his Panthers a chance and not put all the pressure on young QB Bodie Reeder.  For the Salukis, two words: Nick Hill. The Senior Payton Award finalist had an incredible year passing with 2619 yards and 23 TDs for a passer rating of 175.5. Aside from Northern Iowa, this will be his toughest test of the year to date as he has to contend with a Panther defense that is led by Buchanan finalist Donald Thomas but he has the experience and receiving corps to put up the points that are needed. The home crowd will be the difference as Southern Illinois wins a close one.  Southern Illinois 24, Eastern Illinois 16

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It’s a battle in the Northeast as Fordham makes a return to the FCS Postseason and UMass returns to try and build on its runner up campaign last year. For the Rams to have any chance in this game, they need QB John Skelton to get going early and often. UMass has seemed to struggle if it gets down in games and Fordham has to get out of the gates early. But that will be a problem against a Minutemen defense that is led by Buchanan finalist LB Jason Hatchell. Over the last three regular season games, UMass gave up just 18 points while putting up big numbers through the air thanks to Payton finalist QB Liam Coen.  Coen has had an outstanding year with over 2200 passing yards and 23 TDs. Put all that together with the fact that the game is in Amherst and that tells me UMass will get it done in a very business like manner. You can catch the game on ESPNU this Saturday at Noon.  Massachusetts 41, Fordham 24

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You can impress a lot of people by saying you’re going to the Eagles/Cowboys game in Lake Charles, LA this weekend. Or you might just get weird looks but McNeese State and Eastern Washington fans know that this is the REAL matchup. It’s a high powered Eastern Washington offense vs. a shutdown McNeese State defense. The Cowboys are looking to put the clamps on QB Matt Nichols who passed for over 3000 yards and had 30 TDs while they will try to use their balanced attack to exploit the Eagles’ defense. Expect a mix of QB Derrick Fourroux passing and throwing in the option offense while also seeing a lot of RB Kris Bush. Fourroux’s favorite target is WR Carlese Franklin who caught almost 50 percent of Fourroux’s passes.  Meanwhile, Nichols and his big target WR Aaron Boyce are looking to continue their success through the air while RB Dale Morris will also look to get the ground game going against a stingy Cowboy defense led by their Buchanan finalist in DE Bryan Smith. It will be very close but I’m going to call the upset right now. I think Nichols has a career day and the Eagles escape the Bayou with a win.  Eastern Washington, 20  McNeese State 17

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What a matchup! The two teams who’ve combined to win the last three national championships are paired up in a contest in the North Carolina mountains. Both teams are familiar with each other as they played just 14 months earlier in Boone with the Mountaineers coming out on top 21-10. As much as I’d like to think my alma mater will pull this one off, the problem for me is that JMU has so many new faces and this is basically the same App State team from 2006 that won it all. Oh yeah and they also have that whole beating Michigan thing too. The BIG question mark for JMU will be Rodney Landers. He has looked very suspect passing the ball in recent weeks and if he can’t get that part of his game going, it will be a long afternoon for the Dukes. They need to establish the run early and mix in some throws to keep the Mountaineer defense off balance. For App State, they too have the spread option offense but Armanti Edwards and Kevin Richardson have demonstrated that they are the best at running it. Those are the two guys JMU needs to focus on if they want to have any chance in this game.  In the end, I see a close battle that may come down to the 4th quarter but in the end, experience wins out and the Mountaineers get the win and stay in Boone for another round.  Appalachian State 34, James Madison 21

    AT      

Well someone was going to have to make the trip to Missoula and unfortunately for the Terriers, they were picked. It’s a tough break for Wofford being that they were co-champs of the Southern conference and having beaten Appalachian State should’ve had priority but that’s how the ball bounces sometime. I personally thought JMU would end up here but those are the breaks. Wofford is not going to be a pushover for Montana at all and I’m sure Grizz fans are a little surprised to see such a strong opponent in the opening round. Once again, Montana went undefeated and grabbed a seed and they did with another balanced offensive attack. QB Cole Bergquist had over 2700 total yards while RB Lex Hilliard rushed for over 1000 yards to lead the Grizz.  To go with that, they have two very capable receivers in Ryan Bagley and Mike Ferriter who had almost identical stats. Then there is the outstanding defense led by Buchanan finalist Kroy Biermann who has an eye popping 15 sacks this season. Put that together and you might have the most complete team in the field.  Wofford however won’t come in intimidated. They know that they can exploit anyone on the ground with the powerful attack of RB Kevious Johnson along with their QB Josh Collier who had pretty equal stats rushing and passing this year.  Anyone that can beat Appalachian State should also be recognized as a force in the country. In the end though, I think Montana is too complete of a team and that’s a hell of a trek up to Montana for Wofford which could affect them. I think its close in the beginning but the Grizzlies pull away in the second half. Montana 35, Wofford 17

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A record five CAA teams made it in this year and Richmond was certainly deserving as they won the CAA South and narrowly missed the autobid thanks to losing on a coin flip to UMass in a very odd way of determining a conference champion. I saw this Spider team firsthand and they are very impressive both running the ball and on defense.  RB Tim Hightower once again had an impressive campaign finishing with 1500+ yards on the ground and 17 TDs. QB Eric Ward also was efficient with 1800 yards of passing and 12 TDs of his own. The Spiders will see a mirror image of themselves in the Ohio Valley champion Colonels.  They too are led by a senior RB in Bobby Washington who eclipsed the 1000 yard mark this year as well as QB Allan Holland who finished with just under 2000 passing yards and 14 TDs. This one I think will be one of those games that goes under the radar but will be a very closely contested battle as these teams look pretty evenly matched. It will most likely come down to who can make key defensive stops in the 4th quarter. I believe that will be the Spiders who will just be too good down the stretch and will pull this one out late in the game, possibly overtime.   Richmond 23, Eastern Kentucky 20

JMU Football v. Towson and other CAA Showdowns

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I can’t believe it is the end of the regular season already but time flies when you’re having fun.

For all you JMU’ers, here’s the link to JMU v. Towson (1:30 pm Saturday) via http://www.jmusports.com : http://www.jmusports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=71029&SPID=8113&DB_OEM_ID=14400&ATCLID=1310618

I can also sum it up: JMU (7-3, 5-2) needs to win this game and win it big to impress the selection committee. Although our losses to Richmond and Delaware were close and respectable, the committee has never really respected us (see last year at Youngstown St.). This means we can’t goof off against the Tigers (3-7, 1-6). They have a terrific QB in Sean Schaeffer who is very capable of beating any team deep so pressure needs to be put on him quickly. GO DUKES!

 

Maine at New Hampshire (12 pm, Cowell Stadium , Durham , NH ) – If the Wildcats (6-4, 3-4) are going to want any love from the selection committee, they will have to take out their frustrations on Maine (4-6, 3-4).  UNH benefits from having Ricky Santos whom everybody adores so they have an advantage there. Their problem is those glaring four conference losses. It will take a woodshed beating and a miracle for UNH to see the postseason.

 Brian Mandeville of Northeastern catches the winning TD vs. Hofstra on 11/10/2007

Northeastern at Rhode Island (12 pm, Meade Stadium, Kingston, RI) – A game with no playoff implications but one that is intriguing due to both teams playing much better in recent weeks. The Rams (2-8, 1-6) are still on a high after upsetting UMass two weeks ago but are also looking to rebound from a 35-0 pounding they took from Maine last week.  The Huskies (3-7, 2-5) meanwhile continue their late season surge as they look to finish 2007 on a three game winning streak having already spoiled the seasons of New Hampshire and Hofstra.

 

William & Mary at Richmond (12 pm, UR Stadium, Richmond, VA) – The Spiders (8-2, 6-1) control their own destiny as they’ve already won the CAA South and are looking now to get style points as they face the Tribe (4-6, 2-5). W&M is coming off a 55-34 defeat to JMU last week but continued to show that it can put up points with the best of them. While Richmond doesn’t need this game, it won’t want to look sluggish as it could affect their placement in the postseason. Look for All American candidate RB Tim Hightower to get most of the load this weekend.

 

Massachusetts at Hofstra (12 pm, Shuart Stadium , Hempstead , NY) – UMass (8-2, 6-1) has locked up the CAA North and now is fighting to get a top four seed in the playoffs. The Pride (7-3, 4-3) meanwhile are fighting for their playoff lives and their slim chance of football past this weekend rests on their two offensive weapons in QB Brian Savage and RB Kareem Huggins. Meanwhile, Liam Coen, the Minutemen’s newest all time leading passer will look to build upon his record setting day last week by closing out his junior year with a strong victory.

 

Delaware at Villanova (3:30 pm, Villanova Stadium, Villanova, PA) – With how well the Blue Hens (8-2, 5-2) have played this year, they may actually have to sweat it out if they don’t get a victory here on Saturday. Their tough loss at home to Richmond last week prevented them from a CAA South title and they know now that a win in Villanova is crucial. They’ll be facing a Wildcats (6-4, 4-3) team that knows if it could pull a victory out, it will throw a huge wrench into the playoff situation by becoming a 5-3 CAA squad and creating quite a problem for the selection committee.

SELECTION SHOW REMINDER: 

A quick note: For those of you that get ESPNU, make sure to tune in at 3:30 pm on Sunday November 18th for the FCS Selection Show. It doesn’t quite get the hype of the NCAA March Madness Selection Show but for all of us FCS followers, we know what the real selection show is! 

Good luck to all the teams. Next blog will probably happen right after the selection show.