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The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats are MEAC Champions for the second time in three years.  But unlike 2010 when the Wildcats joined South Carolina State and Florida A&M as league co-champions, the 2012 crown will not be shared.  This year’s Championship is the Cats’ first outright title since 2002.

BCU now owns 5 MEAC crowns and 11 conference championships all-time. (The Wildcats won 6 SIAC titles before joining the MEAC in 1979.) 

Possible 1st round matchups

Here is what we know: the Wildcats are headed to the 2012 FCS playoffs; and Bethune-Cookman has submitted a bid to host a first round game.  Who BCU faces and whether or not the Cats will be awarded a home game are still anyone’s guess.  The mystery will be revealed next Sunday morning when the field of 20 is announced.  We should probably refrain from speculating on who the Wildcats will face and just allow things the sort themselves out but that would be no fun. 

So let’s take a look at the most probable first round matchups based on what we know today.

Keep in mind that 12 playoff bound teams receive a first round bye; the FCS playoff committee ranks the top 5 seeds; and  teams are matched based on things such as geographic proximity.  With that in mind, the Cats are not expected to receive a first round bye and will very likely face one of the following teams in the opening round.

Wofford (Spartanburg, SC) is looking like a very probable matchup for BCU.  The Terriers, along with Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, are co-champions of the Southern Conference.  All three teams appear to be locks to make the field of 20.  In fact, Appalachian State (Boone, NC) could also be a potential first round foe.  The Wildcats will certainly have to hit the road if matched against App State as the Mountaineers almost always host their first game of the playoffs.

Coastal Carolina (Conway, SC) will likely end the season tied for first place in the Big South with Liberty and Stony Brook.  The Chanticleers will receive the conference’s automatic bid if the three teams finish the season tied for first.  Interestingly, Coastal and Bethune played one common opponent this year (North Carolina A&T) and the margin of victory was the same for both (+16 points).

Stony Brook entered the weekend ranked 6th in the Sports Network FCS poll but suffered a defeat to conference foe Liberty.  If (and that’s a big if) Stony Brook receives an at-large berth, they could very well be matched against BCU in the first round.

This week’s Tennessee State/UT-Martin (Ohio Valley) matchup is an unofficial playoff game for both teams.  The loser is definitely out of the mix.   The winner, however, could secure one of the final at-large slots and may be pitted against the Wildcats on Thanksgiving weekend.

Colonial Athletic teams James Madison, Towson, Villanova, and Richmond are all sitting on the proverbial playoff bubble and either of whom could be matched against Brian Jenkins’ squad in the opening round. 

Thank goodness we will not have to speculate much longer.  Post season play begins in less than two weeks but first things first.

The Wildcats tangle with arch-rival FAMU in Saturday’s Florida Blue Florida Classic in Orlando.  BCU will look to complete their first ever undefeated MEAC season in the regular season finale.  Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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