A quick glance at the top of the MEAC standings reveals a pile-up of five (5) teams currently tied for 1st place in the league. The race for the crown and the conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs will become a bit clearer after this weekend’s contests featuring 4 of the 5 teams tied for first place in head-to-head matchups against the other.
Elimination week begins when 18th ranked Bethune-Cookman (4-1, 7-2) travel to Norfolk, Virginia to take on Norfolk State (4-1, 4-5) for a 7:30, Thursday night ESPNU contest. The Wildcats will look to avenge last year’s 24-27 loss to the Spartans and keep pace atop the league standings.
On Saturday, North Carolina A&T hosts Morgan State (both 4-1 in conference) in Greensboro in a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.
Finally, Florida A&M is out of championship contention but will look to play spoiler against front-running South Carolina State in Tallahassee. The Bulldogs have the inside track to the league’s automatic bid as they currently own the head-to-head tiebreaker over co-leaders North Carolina A&T and Bethune-Cookman and will get their shot at Morgan State and Norfolk State to end the season. If South Carolina State drops a contest and BCU wins out, the Wildcats will be awarded the conference’s automatic bid based upon the MEAC’s tiebreaker system (detailed below).
The Sports Network is also projecting BCU will make the field of 24 as an at-large selectee if they can win out. Another loss by Bethune will all but spoil their bid to secure their 4th conference crown and/or playoff berth within the past 5 years.
Sports Network PLAYOFF FIELD projection as of November 2, 2014:
South Dakota State/Montana State winner at No. 1 seed North Dakota State
Eastern Kentucky/Illinois State winner at No. 8 seed Chattanooga
Cal Poly/McNeese State winner at No. 5 seed Eastern Washington
Jacksonville/South Carolina State winner at No. 4 seed Coastal Carolina
Bethune-Cookman/Liberty winner at No. 3 seed Jacksonville State
Bryant/Richmond winner at No. 6 seed Villanova
Sam Houston State/Montana winner at No. 7 seed Southeastern Louisiana
Fordham/Youngstown State winner at No. 2 seed New Hampshire
On the at-large bubble: Idaho State, Indiana State, James Madison, North Carolina A&T, Northern Arizona
MEAC tiebreaker criteria:
Two-Team or Multiple-Team Tie – If the tied teams played each other, head-to-head competition will be used to determine the representative. For multiple ties, head-to-head record vs. all teams tied. If a tie still exists then the following shall be used:
A) Count six (6) points for a win against a Division I-A team;
B) Count four (4) points for a non-conference Division I-AA win;
C) Count one (1) point for a win against a Division II team, OR, subtract a point for a loss against a Division II team;
The team with the highest point total shall be the Automatic Qualifier for the NCAA Playoffs or the specified Bowl game, whichever is applicable.
2) Coin Toss
Bethune-Cookman (4-1 , 7-2) * Sagarin 51.81 @ 11-8 at Norfolk State; 11-13 Thurs at Hampton; 11-22 FAMU (Orlando)… POINTS (11): Wins over FIU, Grambling and Florida Tech.
South Carolina State (4– 1, 6- 3) * Sagarin 50.64 @ 11-1 vs. Savannah State; 11-8 at FAMU; 11-15 at Morgan State; 11-22 vs. Norfolk State… POINTS: (5): Wins over Furman, Benedict.
North Carolina A&T (4 –1, 7 – 2) * Sagarin 47.68 @ 11-8 vs. Morgan State; 11-15 at Savannah State; 11-22 at NCCU…. POINTS (9): Wins over Alabama A&M, Elon and Chowan
Morgan State .(4 – 1, 5 – 4 ) * Sagarin 38.86 @ 11-8 at North Carolina A&T; 11-15 vs. SCSU; 11-22 vs Delaware State…. POINTS (1): Win over Bowie State
Norfolk State (4-1, 4– 5) * Sagarin 34.05 @ 11-6 vs. B-CU (Thurs.); 11-15 vs. NCCU; 11-22 at SCSU…. POINTS (0)