Skip to main content

Playoff Speculation, T-6 Days

Last week I engaged in some I-AA playoff speculation, and it was so popular I figured I'd revisit this today, 6 days before the selections will be announced on ESPN News.

The full rules for playoff selection were explained in this post, but the basics are: eight conferences (including the Patriot League) have an autobid into the I-AA playoffs, and eight teams will be selected as at-large qualifiers. For Lehigh fans, it's really simple: win, and we win the Patriot League title outright and will be playing the weekend after Thanksgiving. Lose, and the season will be over. The chance of Lehigh getting an at-large bid is super-remote.

Let's run down what we know. First, the autobid qualifiers.

Atlantic 10: With James Madison losing and UMass winning last weekend, the Minutemen wrapped up the autobid, no matter what happens next weekend vs. Hofstra.

Gateway: Youngstown State wrapped this up by beating Western Kentucky in their final regular-season game.

SoCon: Appalachian State clinched this last week, and also made a pretty damn good case for home field throughout the playoffs after thrashing Western Carolina last weekend.

Big Sky: This comes down to the "Brawl of the Wild" as to whether Montana or Montana State takes the autobid. This is a game which will get attention, as a Montana State win would take a precious at-large bid away from another team. For now, I'm still picking Montana.

Ohio Valley: With Tennessee-Martin losing to Eastern Kentucky last week, the race has been thrown into a mess that could come down to a number of combinations of Tennessee-Martin, Eastern Illinois or Tennessee State winning the title. The whole thing has the potential to come down to a random drawing or coin flip.

MEAC: Message read loud and clear: Hampton made it in with an emphatic 59-7 win over Florida A&M.

Patriot: Lehigh, or Lafayette. The winner of the 142nd meeting wins it.

Southland: If 6-4 McNeese State wins over 4-6 Nicholls State, they get the autobid. If they falter, 6-4 Sam Houston State is in with a win over 4-6 Texas State. If somehow both fall, McNeese would take it by virtues of head-to-head tiebreakers with Sam Houston State and 4-7 Stephen F. Austin.

Here's who's defintely in the race for the at-large bid in my estimation:

#1: Illinois State. Even if they lose to Northern Iowa in their Gateway finale., they are a lock to be in the field with an 8-3 record.

#2: Furman. They have finished the year at 8-3 and have wrapped up an at-large bid from the SoCon.

#3: James Madison. Though a loss in the final week to Towson wouldn't look great, I see them as a lock from the A-10 with a 9-2 or 8-3 record in any case.

That leaves five spots up for grabs. Two teams last week killed their chances: Charleston Southern (out of the Big South) and Holy Cross (out of the Patriot) by losing last weekend. That leaves the odds for the final spots as follows:

#4: Southern Illinois (1-4). The third team of the Gateway gets in with a win over 3-7 Southern Utah. At home, they've got to be favored to get this done.

#5: A Second Placed OVC team (1-4). If the dust settles and Tennessee-Martin wins the OVC autobid, I still think Eastern Illinois gets a bid. If Tennessee State or EIU gets the autobid, Tennessee-Martin will absolutely get a bid as long as they beat lowly 1-9 Murray State. I continue to like these odds.

#6: A Third Placed Atlantic 10 team (1-2). This requires either New Hampshire beating Maine OR Towson beating James Madison. Although nothing seems to ever be settled in the wacky world of the A-10, this would seem to have a pretty decent shot at happening.

#7: Montana (3-1). If Montana State beats Montana in the "Brawl of the Wild, Montana then will take up a precious at-large bid from another school.

#8: Coastal Carolina (3-1). All they need to do is win their last game against Charleston Southern, win the Big South, and do a lot of scoreboard watching. If the Chanticleers win, they'll be rooting for Montana, Maine and James Madison - if all three win along with Coastal, you've got to love their chances. If New Hampshire, Towson, and Montana State all win, it will be one nervous Sunday.

#9: Delaware State (4-1). Beating 4-6 Howard needs to be accomplished in their final MEAC game, but if they succeed, they'll be doing some scoreboard watching to see how many spots will be open. A loss by Coastal would help immensely, too.

#10: A Fourth Placed Atlantic 10 Team (6-1). This requires Towson beating James Madison AND New Hampshire beating Maine to happen, putting New Hampshire, James Madison and Towson all at 8-3. If this happens, I think all four make it.

#11: Portland State (8-1). With 7 D-I wins after scheduling 3 I-A teams to start the year, there are a lot of folks who have surprised me by saying that the Vikings have a real chance to qualify. If they do, I think it's due to a lot of things that are out of their control.

#12: Monmouth (12-1). The 10-1 NEC co-champion (who has completed their regular season) could be selected if a lot of things happen on Saturday, but it's just looking awful slim.

#13: San Diego (14-1). The 10-0 Pioneer League champions would only be selected if absolutely everything falls correctly... and even then might not make it. If they don't, they'll probably play UC-Davis during the first round of the playoffs and then play Monmouth or Albany in the inaugural Gridiron Classic.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Any chance for Northern Iowa (with a win over Ill St of course)?
Anonymous said…
Great analysis
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the analysis, Chuck. Great job.

Personally, I think San Diego's chances are better than you give them credit for. But if Montana State pulls the upset, Harbaugh's team is out of luck.

Funny - almost every team on the bubble is pulling for Montana to win to open up a wild card spot for them!

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

What To Look For On Sunday For the FCS Playoff Pairings

Lehigh are the Patriot League Football Champs, and will be playing in the 1st round of the FCS playoffs.

The FCS Playoff Bracket is going to be revealed on ESPNU at 11:00AM on Sunday on a selection show.  The team will be watching the selections live at the Goosey Gander to find out who they will play, and where.

The chance that Lehigh will host a home playoff game appears to be very slim.  Though record is technically not in consideration for whether a team will host a first-round game, other considerations (the lack of lights, no Noon playoff starts) make it difficult if not impossible to host a playoff game at Murray Goodman unless temporary lights are brought in.

Being that's the case, it seems very likely that Lehigh will be playing somewhere on the road in the 1st round.  Below the flip, I will give the bracket predictions of the experts and three things I think you should watch for during the selection show.