Elimination Week for BCU/Other MEAC Playoff Hopefuls

meacfbA 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).

BCU vs UCF-400The 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:

1) Points

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)

 

MEAC, Ohio Valley trust change is in the air

Credits: TSU Athletics

Credits: TSU Athletics

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Is this finally the year? That’s what teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Ohio Valley Conference have been asking themselves for too long.

They’re hoping the first half of the season suggests the FCS playoffs will be different – for whomever comes out of their respective conference.

But they might have an idea already the way OVC front-runners Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State and MEAC leaders Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State are playing this season. All four could be postseason-bound.

Both conferences are steeped in tradition, but, incredibly, a MEAC team has not won an FCS playoff game since 1999 and the OVC has been shut out since 2000.

UT Martin coach Jason Simpson said at OVC media day that the lack of playoff success is the “thorn in our (the conference’s) side right now.” South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough says success in the playoffs “is at a real, real high level. Until as a (MEAC) league we all get there, I don’t know if any individual can rise above it enough to hang in the league with the CAA and with the Southern Conference and those kinds of leagues.”

Coaches in both conferences point to difficult first-round matchups as the main reason for the playoff failure. When the playoffs were 16 teams deep, the MEAC sometimes ran into a regional road block against the CAA or SoCon, and the OVC champ sometimes ran into a Missouri Valley Football Conference team, and, in three different years from 2001-10, the eventual national champion, in an early round game.

This year’s results can’t be denied, however. The playoffs will expand from 20 to 24 teams, and both conferences could have two playoff qualifiers each.

In the OVC, No. 5-ranked Eastern Illinois (5-1) has basically had the best results of any team in the FCS, starting with a three-touchdown win at San Diego State and victories over Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Eastern Kentucky, losing only to Northern Illinois. The Jimmy Garoppolo express is on another level this season and the Panthers could be headed toward being a seeded team.

Tennessee State (6-1) might have the type of stingy defense to stop EIU, and the road-tested the Tigers hope to win the OVC’s automatic bid. The Tigers have only lost by a field goal to Bethune-Cookman

Speaking of whom, Bethune-Cookman (5-1) could enter the picture as the MEAC’s best hope to the playoff drought. Like Eastern Illinois, the Wildcats have a win over an FBS team (FIU) and their only loss was to another FBS opponent (Florida State).

They hosted playoff games in 2010 and last year, and have no intention of coughing up another home game if they have one this season.

But Bethune-Cookman may not even be the MEAC’s top club. South Carolina State (5-2) has reeled off five straight wins, including a sweep of North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central in a five-day span, to make a statement after having a rare subpar season under coach Buddy Pough. Their losses are only to Clemson and unbeaten Coastal Carolina.

South Carolina State hosts Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 26, which is also the date of the Eastern Illinois at Tennessee State showdown.

Veterans at quarterback and playmakers on defenses link the four teams. Victories in the playoffs may link them by season’s end.

Read on: http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/news/news.aspx?id=4631160

Missed Opportunities cost BCU chance to secure 1st playoff victory

You can use two words to sum up Bethune-Cookman’s 24-14 first round playoff defeat to Coastal Carolina: MISSED OPPORTUNITIES. 

On BCU’s first two (2) possessions of Saturday’s matchup against the Chanticleers, quarterback Quentin Williams overshot passes to Jhomo Gordon, KJ Stroud, and Eddie Poole that would have been surefire touchdowns.  

Daytona Beach native DJ Howard had an opportunity to return a pick six from inside the CCU 15 yard line on the Chants opening offensive possession, however, the Spruce Creek product was unable to hold on to the interception.  So instead of the Wildcats leading by 2 or 3 scores early in the contest, they found themselves trailing 17-0 heading into halftime.

“In the playoffs you’ve got to seize opportunities.  If you don’t, the opportunity will go right pass you” quarterback Quentin Williams stated.  He went on to state “in the playoffs it’s not about who’s better or who’s worse, it is about who takes advantage of the opportunities”.

While BCU missed on its chances, CCU took full advantage of the Wildcats’ miscues and scored 10 points off of 2 BCU turnovers in the second quarter.

Coastal Carolina opened the game’s scoring on a 6 play 75 yard drive with 13:50 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter.  The drive was capped by a 14 yard option run by Marcus Whitener.  The Wildcats initially defended the play well but senior quarterback Aramis Hillary pitched the ball late allowing Whitener to run untouched for the opening score.

The Chants doubled their lead when All Big South 1st team receiver Matt Hazel outleaped Tim Burke in the left corner of the endzone to cap a 9 play 58 yard drive with 7:23 left in the 2nd quarter.

“I told coach to call that play” Hazel stated.  (They were) “in man coverage across the board.  Aramis threw a great ball and I saw it at the last minute and just went and got it”.

Controversy struck on BCU’s next possession.  Trailing 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Williams hit tight end Jordan Murphy for a short gain.  Murphy was originally ruled down on the play but a booth review overturned the call. 

Coach Brian Jenkins went ballistic when the game’s head official announced the decision to overturn the call. 

“(Jordan) did fumble.  We had a couple of players in the area but (when the official blew the play dead) they stopped.  Their player recovered the ball but if you blow the play dead, I don’t understand how you go back and review it.  My argument was you blew the play dead so it negates anything else” Jenkins stated.

Quentin Williams echoed his coach’s sentiments: “when Murph (Jordan Murphy) caught the ball, I heard the official blow the whistle.  That’s why I stopped.”

Coastal took over possession at the BCU 43 yard line as a result of the play.  5 plays later, Apopka High School product, Alex Catron, pushed CCU’s lead to 17-0 on a 35 yard FG conversion.  The score remained unchanged heading into intermission.

Early in the 3rd quarter, redshirt freshmen Nick Addison picked off an Aramis Hillary pass in the endzone to help breathe life into the Wildcats.  But the Chanticleer defense kept BCU off the scoreboard on the ensuing possession.

Brodrick Waters entered the contest for an ineffective Quentin Williams on the Wildcats second possession in the 3rd quarter.  Waters broke on a 57 yard run on his first drive under center.  BCU got the ball as deep as the CCU 4 yard line on the drive but a false start penalty pushed the ball back to the CCU 11 yard line. 

Coach Jenkins suffered his second visible meltdown of the game and had to be physically restrained by BCU administrators and coaches after the false start penalty was called against his squad.

“We had our guys go from a 2 point stand to a 3 point stand and they called us for a false start.  None of our guys jumped.  Two officials called offsides and one called illegal shift.  When I asked for an explanation I got three different answers”. 

Jenkins’ was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his reaction to the call and cost his team an opportunity for a chip shot field goal.  The result of the play put the ball on the 26 yard line but instead of attempting a 43 yard FG, Jenkins decided to go for it on 4th and 26.

Waters found KJ Stroud in the back of the endzone on the 4th and 26 play and BCU seemed to be back in business. But it wasn’t meant to be.  The television replay showed Stroud’s hand landed out of bounds before his foot landed in the endzone.  The overturned touchdown call embodied BCU’s afternoon of missed opportunities.

Coastal Carolina safety, Johnnie Houston put the game out of reach when he returned a Brodrick Waters’ interception 68 yards to put Coastal ahead 24-0.  Houston’s return was the 2nd longest interception return in school history.

A 74 yard touchdown pass from Quentin Williams to David Blackwell with 6:44 left in the game gave Bethune its first points of the afternoon.   Williams connected with KJ Stroud in the back of the endzone on the 2 point conversion attempt to cut the lead into a two possession contest (24-8).

Isidore Jackson’s 10 yard touchdown run capped off the game’s scoring.  Jackson, who needed just 8 yards rushing to reach 1,000 on the season, finished the contest with 77 yards on the ground and 1,069 on the year.  Jackson’s 1,069 yards represents the 3rd best rushing season in BCU history.

Quentin Williams threw for 215 yards and 1 touchdown.  It was the first time he surpassed the 200 yard passing mark in his career.

Jarkevis Fields led the Wildcats defense with 15 tackles.  Nick Addison pitched in with 10 tackles, 1 fumble recovery and an interception.

The MEAC is now 0 for its last 17 as a conference in the FCS playoffs. 

Redshirt freshmen, Nick Addison and Quentin Williams, vowed to take this bad feeling and get better in the offseason.  Both players stated that Bethune-Cookman will win a playoff game before their eligibility expires in three years.

The Wildcats are now 0-4 in the FCS playoffs. 

The win secured Coastal Carolina’s first ever playoff victory.  The Chanticleers will travel to Norfolk, Virgina next week to take on #4 ranked Old Dominion.

Live Chat – BCU vs. CCU 1st Round FCS Playoffs

or   Click Here

The Live Chat will provide posters with a highly interactive platform in which they can discuss and follow the game as it is happening live. The Live Chat interfaces with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

@BCUAthletics, @BCUExaminer, and @HailWildcats Twitter feeds will interface with the Live Chat. This will allow the posters to interact with the men and women who are dedicated to bringing you the most in-depth coverage of Bethune-Cookman football.  The Chat will also allow users to access the most up to date gameday information from one centralized location.

You can participate in the Live Chat by posting your opinions/feedback/questions or by simply following along. All are encouraged to participate.

The Live Chat Link will become active at approximately 1:45 p.m. on gameday.

BCU/Coastal Carolina Game Preview

If Bethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins and Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia ever decided to talk football over a cup of coffee (or quality adult beverage), the two men are likely to share very similar coaching stories.    

Moglia, who is in his first season at CCU, guided the Chanticleers to a three-way share of the Big South conference title and earned the league’s FCS playoff automatic qualifier bid.  Jenkins led his Fighting Wildcats to a three-way share of the MEAC crown and the conference’s AQ in his first season at Bethune in 2010.

Jenkins and Moglia have both been named as 2012 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award finalist; both coaches are disciples of the spread offense; and they both preach the gospel of ‘developing young men’.

When the two faceoff on Saturday at 2:00 P.M. at Daytona Beach’s Municipal Stadium, both will look to secure the first ever FCS playoff victory for their respective programs.  (BCU is 0-3 in the FCS playoff play while Coastal is 0-2 in the postseason tournament.)

When Coastal has the ball

The Chants are led on offense by Big South All-Conference 1st team selectee, Aramis Hillary.  The University of South Carolina transfer ranked tops in the Big South and 23rd nationally in total offense (261.7 ypg).  Hillary is a dual threat player who can hurt you with his legs and his arm.  But coach Moglia cites a different primary reason for Hillary’s success:

“One of his biggest strengths is that he makes good decisions. We give him progressions on all of his reads, whether it be through the option run or through the pass and he’s been great at that. He’s been effective when he’s had to run and throw the ball and that’s primarily due to the fact that he’s been able to make good decisions.”

Hillary’s favorite target this season has been fellow Big South 1st team selectee Matt Hazel.  The 6-3, 190 pound junior receiver has caught 49 passes for 615 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Hazel was described by his coach as a precise route runner who understands coverages and has great hands. 

Offensive Center Pat Williams and slot receiver/punt returner Niccolo Mastromatteo are also Big South first team performers.  It was Williams and Mastromatteo that jumped off the film for coach Brian Jenkins.

“#20 (Mastromatteo) is very exciting.  I really like watching him on film.  I have this thing for little guys and I don’t know why”.  Coach Jenkins went on to state: “the Center (Williams) is a very physical, nasty player, and I mean nasty in a good way, not in a cheap shot way.  He plays the game like an old-school football player and I love that”.

Our take

The Chanticleers boost an explosive offense whose greatest strength lie in its balance.  On the season, CCU has rushed for 2200 yards while gaining 2569 through the air.  Quarterback Aramis Hillary has the ability to break contain and extend plays with his feet.  Wide out Matt Hazel was one of the Big South’s best possession receivers this season while fellow wide-out Niccolo Mastromatteo proved to be one of the most explosive players in the conference. 

The Wildcat defense has been good all year applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks and will need to do so on Saturday to help slow down the Coastal offensive attack.  The defensive front and particularly the defensive ends will need to remain discipline in their pass rush responsibilities and keep their containment assignments.  On the back end, BCU’s secondary has been outstanding this year at limiting big plays through the air and taking the ball away.  They will need to turn in another top flight effort on Saturday in hopes of keeping the CCU offense contained.

Here is a look at the Chants’ relevant offensive statistics:

Rushing offense:          200.00 ypg
Passing offense:          233.55 ypg
Total offense:            433.55 ypg 
Scoring offense:          35.18 ypg

 Notable: WR/PR Niccolo Mastromatteo is responsible for the 2nd and 3rd longest scoring plays in CCU football history (a 91 yard punt return against Charleston Southern in 2010 and an 81 yard punt return against Presbyterian earlier this season).

 When Coastal is on defense

From a statistical standpoint, the Chanticleers defense has been less than stellar throughout the course of the season.  CCU ranks in the bottom third in most of the important national defensive statistical categories.  The Chants give up an average of 26.55 points per game, 181 yards rushing per contest, and over 400 yards of total offense.

Playoff bound opponent Appalachian State racked up 684 yards of offense on CCU while 3-8 Gardner-Webb piled up 547 yards of offense on the Chants. 

Despite the statistics, coach Jenkins sees a defense on film who is “a well-coached football team.  The defensive front is very aggressive, their linebackers run to the ball well, and the defensive secondary don’t get beat deep much”.

Sophomore linebacker Quinn Backus is an All-American candidate and was named the Big South Defensive Player of the year this season.  Backus set the CCU single-season mark with 123 tackles and ranks 10th nationally averaging 11.2 tackles per contest.  He was also responsible for forcing 3 fumbles and picking off 2 passes this season.

Our take

Coach Moglia stated in his weekly teleconference that the Wildcats will move the ball on his squad but his team must limit the big plays.  With that in mind, BCU’s offense must take advantage of a CCU defensive unit that has been poorest at spots throughout the season.  The Wildcat offense can ill-afford to help the CCU defense by putting themselves in adverse situations and piling up reckless penalties. 

CCU’s base defense is a 4-2-5.  BCU must use their size advantage up front to establish the running game. You would also like to see the Wildcats not struggle to the slow start that has plagued them at times this season.  If the Wildcats protect the ball and execute to their normal standard, they should find great success against the Chanticleer defense.

WHAT IS A CHANTICLEER?

Chanticleer (SHON-ti-cleer) comes from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  A Chanticleer is a rooster who rules the barnyard with cunning and wit. His competitiveness never wanes as he battles to the end, using his brains to come out on top.

Quick Facts:

~ Junior running back, Isidore Jackson, needs just 8 more yards to reach 1,000 yards on the season.  Jackson would be just the 6th BCU player in the modern era to reach the 1,000 yard milestone and the first to do so since quarterback Allen Suber ran for 1,035 in 2002.

~ Assuming Quentin Williams doesn’t turn an ankle in practice, this will be the first time BCU has entered a playoff contest with a healthy signal-caller.  In BCU’s last playoff appearance (2010), MEAC Offensive Player of the Year, Matt Johnson, was unable to participate due to a shoulder injury.  Coach Jenkins stated earlier this week that 11 starters on offense and defense were missing in that game.

~ A win on Saturday would give BCU its fourth 10-win season in history and the 2nd in the Brian Jenkins era.

BCU by the Numbers

Category                    Nat’l Rank     Avg.
Rushing Offense             10             247.45
Passing Offense             111             38.45
Total Offense                50              385.91
Scoring Offense             34              30.82
Turnover Margin             3                1.64
Rushing Defense            28              129.55
Pass Defense                10               164.55
Pass Efficiency Def         1                 95.18
Total Defense                5                 294.09
Scoring Defense             10               17.73

Key Player Rankings

Rushing:                          Isidore Jackson (90.18 YPG) – 41st
All-Purpose Runners:        Isidore Jackson (102.36 YPG) – 84th
Total Offense:                Quentin Williams (156.33) – 94th

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.  The game will be streamed live on WatchESPN.com.  HailWildcats.com will host a Live Chat during the game.  The Live Chat will provide posters with a highly interactive platform in which they can discuss and follow the game as it is happening live. The Live Chat interfaces with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

@BCUAthletics, @BCUExaminer, and @HailWildcats Twitter feeds will interface with the Live Chat. This will allow the posters to interact with the men and women who are dedicated to bringing you the most in-depth coverage of Bethune-Cookman football.  The Chat will also allow users to access the most up to date gameday information from one centralized location.

You can participate in the Live Chat by posting your opinions/feedback/questions or by simply following along. All are encouraged to participate.

The Live Chat Link will become active at approximately 1:45 p.m. on gameday and will be available on the HailWildcats.com front page.

Live Chat – Bethune-Cookman/Coastal Carolina 1st round FCS playoffs, Sat. Nov. 24th

Credits – Jerrime Bell / Hailwildcats.com

Hello Wildcats Fans!

Hailwildcats.com will host a Live Chat during this Saturday’s 1st round FCS Playoff game between Bethune-Cookman and Coastal Carolina.The Live Chat will provide posters with a highly interactive platform in which they can discuss and follow the game as it is happening live. The Live Chat interfaces with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

@BCUAthletics, @BCUExaminer, and @HailWildcats Twitter feeds will interface with the Live Chat. This will allow the posters to  interact with the men and women who are dedicated to bringing you the most in-depth coverage of Bethune-Cookman football.  The Chat will also allow users to access the most up to date gameday information from one centralized location.

You can participate in the Live Chat by posting your opinions/feedback/questions or by simply following along. All are encouraged to participate.

The Live Chat Link will become active at approximately 1:30 p.m. on gameday and will be available on the HailWildcats.com front page.

Thanks for your support and Hail Wildcats!
JB

Final Florida Classic Rant

Undisputed and outright champs

At the conclusion of this past Saturday’s Florida Classic, coach Brian Jenkins was seen hugging players, celebrating with the Marching Wildcats, and wearing a 2012 MEAC Champions Belt around his waist.  Yeah you heard me, coach Jenkins was rocking a Championship belt around his waist that Dusty Rhodes would have been proud to don. 

“I have been telling (our football team) about the belt.  You want to be the one to put on the belt in the end.  Right now this phase of our season is done.  We have won this belt and hopefully we can put things together and be able to put on another (belt)” coach Jenkins stated.

 Look Good Play Good

BCU White Helmet

The Bethune-Cookman football team wore all white uniforms (helmets included) for the first time in school history on Saturday.  The new white headgear is the fourth helmet the Wildcats have competed in during the Brian Jenkins era.  When asked about the abundance of helmets and uniform combinations, coach Jenkins stated: “the young men deserve it.  We are so hard on our young men throughout the year about doing things right.  I believe in rewarding them for the effort that they put in for this university.  So it’s things like that I do to show them appreciation for their effort, dedication, commitment and passion to each other, for each other, and also for this university”.

He went on to state: “the guys did not know when the white helmets were coming.  When they came into the locker room before the game, they saw the maroon helmets.  They put them on (and went out for pregame).  When they came back in (the locker room) they saw the white helmets.  The helmets gave our guys a charge and some excitement to our fans”.  “I don’t know you might see a different helmet next week” (in the playoff matchup).

BCU is 4-0 in helmet reveal games during the Brian Jenkins era.

Eddie Robinson Award Finalist

Coach Brian Jenkins, who has led his Bethune-Cookman Wildcats to their second FCS playoff appearance in three years, has been named a 2012 Eddie Robinson Award Finalist.  The award is presented annually to the national coach of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) by The Sports Network.

“Obviously, this is an extreme honor to be named a finalist for an award of this magnitude,” expressed Brian Jenkins on Monday afternoon. “This award not only shows the hard work of a head coach, his staff and players throughout the year, but also the hard work and dedication of a man for whom the award is named. “Not only was Eddie Robinson an inspiration to me, but he paved the way for African-American coaches like myself and many more to reach new heights in the college football coaching ranks. Again, it’s such an honor to be named a finalist for this award.”

Coach Jenkins led BCU to their first ever 10-0 start when he arrived on campus in 2010.  Saturday’s win earned the Wildcats their first ever 8-0 season in league play.     

The Wildcats, who earned the league’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs, will host Big South champion Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.  Tickets can be purchsed from the Bethune-Cookman Box Office or from Ticketmaster.com.

FCS Playoff Picture

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.

BCU ranked in FCS Coaches Poll Top 25

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Previously unranked Bethune-Cookman (No.24)  entered this week’s Top 25 Coaches Poll after picking up a win over North Carolina Central on Saturday.   

Georgia Southern moved to No. 1  this week after claiming a 39-31 triple-overtime win at Chattanooga Saturday.  The Eagles received 17 first-place votes and tallied 635 total points.

Georgia Southern forced overtime with a fourth-quarter field goal and the Eagles’ defense came up with a stop on fourth-down in the third overtime to hold off Chattanooga.

North Dakota State received five first-place votes (619 points) and rose one spot to No.2 after defeating Southern Illinois, 23-17. Montana State and Sam Houston State each climbed one spot to No.3 and No.4, respectively, as well. Sam Houston State also received two first-place votes. Old Dominion moved up two spots to No.5, while Lehigh, which was idle last week, received one first-place vote and maintained their No.6 ranking.

Wofford rose one spot to No.7 after defeating The Citadel (24-21).  Last week’s No.1, Eastern Washington, dropped to No.8 after falling to unranked Southern Utah. Stony Brook (No.9) and James Madison (No.10) maintain their rankings from last week and round out the top ten.

Eleven conferences are represented in the poll. The Colonial Athletic Association has the most teams in the top-25 with five. The Big Sky and Missouri Valley are represented by four teams each, while the Southern Conference has three teams in this week’s poll. The Ohio Valley and Southland conferences are represented by two teams, and the Big South, Ivy League, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, and Patriot League have one team in the top-25.

The FCS Coaches Poll is based exclusively on a voting panel of head coaches in the FCS under the cooperation of the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and is administered by the Southern Conference.

Week Nine Poll – October 29, 2012

Team (No. 1 Votes) 2012 Record Points Previous Ranking
1. Georgia Southern (17) 7-1 635 2
2. North Dakota State (5) 7-1 619 3
3. Montana State 7-1 586 4
4. Sam Houston State (2) 6-2 561 5
5. Old Dominion 7-1 528 7
6. Lehigh (1) 8-0 517 6
7. Wofford 7-1 486 8
8. Eastern Washington (1) 6-2 471 1
9. Stony Brook 8-1 450 9
10. James Madison 6-2 429 10
11. New Hampshire 7-2 396 12
12. Northern Arizona 7-1 363 13
13. Central Arkansas 7-2 326 14
14. Appalachian State 6-3 275 15
15. Illinois State 7-2 264 17
16. Cal Poly 7-1 256 11
17. Indiana State 7-2 249 T-18
18. Albany 7-1 188 20
19. Tennessee State 8-1 173 T-21
20. Delaware 5-3 122 16
21. Harvard 6-1 96 24
22. Towson 4-4 87 25
23. Eastern Kentucky 6-3 68 T-18
24. Bethune-Cookman 6-2 54 NR
25. South Dakota State 6-2 51 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Sacramento State (44), Richmond (27), Villanova (27), UT Martin (26), McNeese State (23), Jacksonville State (16), Youngstown State (10), Eastern Illinois (8), The Citadel (5), Samford (5), Southern Illinois (4), Northern Iowa (4), Alabama A&M (1).