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I-AA/FCS Playoff Predictions

It's a little hard to read, but to your left is the brackets for the I-AA (oops, I mean D-I Football Championship Subdivision) playoffs for 2006. As promised, I'm weighing in on my thoughts on the selections.

Like the NCAA basketball tournament, the bracket is broken down in a series of "seeds". You could call each section of the bracket the equivalent of an NCAA "regional", though it's not necessarily geographic in nature. The four seeds: #1 Appalachian State, #2 Montana, #3 UMass and #4 Youngstown State are guaranteed a home game through their "regional".

Let's break down the bracket.

The Appalchian State Regional
Coastal Carolina at #1 Appalachian State. "Congratulations Coastal, you've just gotten the first-ever invite to the playoffs. What are you going to do?" "We're going to Boone, NC!" was probably not the first thing they had in mind, but there we are. Hard to see the Mountaineers lose this game, but keep in mind: They could be on cruise control, having coasted through November having wrapped up the SoCon weeks ago. Still, they manhandled Western Carolina, another pass-happy team, last week and would seem to be able to pass the test here. Yosefs 31, Beach Chickens 21.

Montana State at Furman. First of all, should Montana State be in the field? At 7-4 with a loss to D-II Chadron State, they were marginal at best, and 7-4 Portland State or 7-4 Northern Iowa were probably more deserving. Furman, who could plausibly have entertained playing a home game, also have to feel stiffed with good reason. But something funny always seems to happen with "the last team in the field" and "the team that gets stiffed". The last team in the field wins the game. Bobkitties 31, Purple-With-Rage Paladins 28.

The Montana Regional
McNeese State at #2 Montana. Could the playoff committee have made the path any easier for the Griz? Throwing the Southland champion fresh from the Bayou up to Jon Tester's home state - a McNeese State team who lost to Texas State this year? With the winner of the Southern Illinois/Tennessee-Martin game on tap for them next? I don't beleive these Griz are the best team in the playoffs this year, but I think the committee has given them such an easy path that they coast through this round. Griz 38, McNeese 14.

Tennessee-Martin at Southern Illinois. The battle of the best nicknames (the Salukis and the Skyhawks), this is the most perplexing game to pick. How good is Southern Illinois, the team that beat I-A Indiana but lost to Western Kentucky? How good is Martin, who mostly took care of business in a light OVC schedule, beating Eastern Illinois, but losing to Eastern Kentucky? I'll have to give this one to the Salukis, who seem to be peaking at the right time. Surging Salukis 34, Carrier Pigeons 10.

The UMass Regional
Lafayette at #3 UMass. Lafayette's reward for beating Lehigh is a trip to balmy Amherst, MA for a first-round game against the A-10 champions. A daunting task for "little Lafayette" to say the least, getting yardage against a big UMass front seven and an all-Atlantic 10 safety, and also facing a possible Payton award candidate in RB Steve Baylark. QB Liam Coen is no slouch either. It's just hard to see Lafayette beat this simply awesome team. ZooMass 45, Loopers 7.

New Hampshire at Hampton. It's hard to see that Hampton deserved to host a first-round game after this year's 10-1 season against subpar teams, but they do get to face arguably the best QB-to-WR combo in FCS. Santos-to-Ball should give Hampton fits, and New Hampshire should exploit this to devstting effect. Wild-Gasp 44, Pirates of Penzance 30.

The Youngstown State Bracket
James Madison at #4 Youngstown State. A matchup of national-championship-caliber teams, putting James Madison on the road just doesn't seem right for the first school that won the I-AA championship playing four road games, but welcome to the wacky world of the selection committee. Could history repeat itself? Maybe, just maybe, it can, and it starts after this thrilling conclusion to the playoff day this Saturday. Daisy Dukes 38, Icepants 35, OT.

Illinois State at Eastern Illinois. The playoff committee gives a home-and-home to Illinois State and Eastern Illinois after the Redbirds trounced the Panthers 44-30 in Week 3. You may hear that it's difficult to beat the same team twice. Don't beleive the hype. Redbirdies 38, Punt-thers 3.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone... See You Friday about the Patriot League Postseason Awards

Comments

Anonymous said…
Worst prediction ever.
No one gave Lafayette a chance vs. Delaware in 2004 and vs. App State in 2005 and guess what? They were right there to the end.
In 2004, leading going into the 4th quarter and heading in from the 9 to make the tying score before a fumble.
In 2005, leading at half and tied going into the 4th vs. the eventual National Champs.
The leadership on this Leopard team has been here before. I still don't think they will be able to pull it out, but it is going to be alot closer. 30-24.
Travis said…
I am rooting for Lafayette only so UNH has a shot at a home game in the second round, though revenge in Amherst would be sweet.
Anonymous said…
Why did you call Lafayette "Loopers"?
What are they; jocks, pro jocks? A caddie perhaps?
Explain!
Anonymous said…
Lafayette 37 UMASS 27
Anonymous said…
U Mass 42
Loserette 17

Not playing a team with no concept of defense this week. Even a semi-decent pass rush will expose the frauds from Easton.
Ngineer said…
I think the Leopards make this a lot closer than most think. UMass will be looking past Lafayette, just like they almost did with us in 1998--PL, 6-5 record, etc. But if Lafayette plays like last week they'll put a scare into the Minutemen. I pick UMass by 7, but close enough for a turnover to make a difference.
Anonymous said…
Minutemen 56 TARDS 6
Anonymous said…
Why, with identical league records, did Lafayette get the league's auto bid?
Anonymous said…
"Why, with identical league records, did Lafayette get the league's auto bid?"

You sir, are a moron.

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