In the FCS Huddle: Score one, or four, for Palmetto State
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director/Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Everything is at stake in Saturday's Lafayette-Lehigh rivalry game in the Patriot League.
Montana State versus Montana? Yeah, those Big Sky members know something about a feud.
Harvard and Yale consider "The Game" to be bigger than the FCS playoffs.
On a Saturday of terrific rivalry games and meaningful matchups, where the most is on the line collectively is in the great state of South Carolina, perhaps not the first stop when you're thinking about the postseason.
The Palmetto State has a chance to put four of the 24 qualifiers in the playoffs - Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina from the Big South Conference, South Carolina State from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Furman from the Southern Conference.
Some factors have to fall right for these teams on Saturday, but it's possible considering the matchups on the final day of the regular season.
"I think it says a lot about the football in our state, the high school level on up," Furman coach Bruce Fowler said. "Just this area of football, the coaches and the players that are in the area. It is a pretty remarkable thing."
There are seven FCS schools in South Carolina and recently Wofford has been in the forefront, having qualified for the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. But the Terriers are out of the mix this season with a .500 record, and Furman (6-5, 5-2) can earn the SoCon's automatic qualifying bid if they defeat the Terriers and Samford also earns a likely home win over Elon.
Furman, located in Greenville, has the best FCS playoff history in South Carolina. The Paladins won the 1988 FCS (then Division I-AA) national title and were the national runners-up in 1985 and 2001.
Either 18th-ranked Charleston Southern or 11th-ranked Costal Carolina will earn the automatic qualifying bid in the Big South. Charleston Southern will claim it with a win over Liberty on Saturday, otherwise a Liberty win will give the AQ to Coastal Carolina for a second straight year.
Coastal (10-1, 4-1), located in Conway, finishes the regular season with a difficult game at the University of South Carolina on Saturday, but appears to have a strong enough resume under coach Joe Moglia to get into the field on an at-large bid even if they lose to the Gamecocks and CSU wins the auto bid. The Buccaneers (10-2, 3-1), on the other hand, probably need the AQ under first- year coach Jamey Chadwell and would fall short of an at-large bid.
South Carolina State (8-3, 6-1) may need to get into the field with an at- large bid. They are tied for first place in the MEAC with Bethune-Cookman, but are on the wrong end of the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Wildcats. Coach Buddy Pough's Bulldogs, whose school resides in Orangeburg, stand a chance of an at- large bid if they win at Norfolk State to improve to 4-0 in November.
The four playoff hopefuls from South Carolina could scrap the FCS playoffs and instead stage a pretty competitive mini state tournament, considering the closeness of their games this season. Coastal Carolina defeated South Carolina State, 27-20, and Furman, 35-28, to open its season and Charleston Southern later beat Coastal, 31-26.
AROUND THE NATION
As the conference races wind down Saturday, here are their title and playoff scenarios:
Big Sky: Eastern Washington has clinched the conference's automatic playoff bid with at least a share of the conference title. Northern Arizona can forge a tie for the title with a win over Southern Utah and an EWU loss to Portland State. Montana visits Montana State and Northern Arizona visits Southern Utah, and it's definite that two and even possible that three of those four teams will get into the field with at-large bids.
Big South: Coastal Carolina is a co-winner of the conference title and appears in great shape for a playoff bid. Saturday's Liberty-Charleston Southern winner will share the title with Coastal. For the automatic qualifier, Coastal Carolina owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Liberty, but Charleston Southern owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Coastal Carolina. Liberty, which can't win the AQ, isn't considered a contender for an at-large bid.
CAA Football: Maine has won the conference title and AQ. Towson will earn an at-large bid no matter how it does against James Madison, William & Mary is in with a win over Richmond and New Hampshire harbors hope with a win over Maine. Delaware had a relatively weak non-conference schedule and doesn't appear playoff-worthy even with a win over Villanova.
Ivy: Princeton has clinched at least a share of the title and can win its first outright crown since 1964 with either a win over Dartmouth or a Harvard loss to Yale. Harvard is the only team that can catch the Tigers. The league doesn't send its champion to the playoffs.
MEAC: Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State are tied for first place, but Bethune holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. Bethune plays Florida A&M and South Carolina State goes to Norfolk State. Bethune also won the head-to-head meeting with Delaware State, which trails by one game in the standings and can pull into a tie for the title with a win over Morgan State and both Bethune and South Carolina State losses.
Missouri Valley: North Dakota State has clinched the title and automatic bid. The winner of the South Dakota State-Youngstown State matchup will gain an at- large bid and the loser will cross every finger on campus. Northern Iowa, which beat FBS Iowa State to open its season, could get into the picture with a win over Western Illinois and a Youngstown loss because UNI won their head-to-head meeting with the Penguins. Southern Illinois can beat Indiana State for a seventh win, but only six would be against Division I opponents, and that isn't a positive although it's allowable by the selection committee.
Northeast: Sacred Heart has earned the automatic bid to the playoffs and is a co-champion with Duquesne. Robert Morris can earn a share by defeating Saint Francis. Sacred Heart beat both Duquesne and Robert Morris.
Ohio Valley: Eastern Illinois is in the playoff field as the outright conference champion. Tennessee State, whose regular season is done at 9-3, has a strong case for an at-large bid, but so would UT Martin if it knocks off EIU on Saturday. The Skyhawks, though, lost to TSU and Jacksonville State, which would get to 9-3 with a win over Southeast Missouri State.
Patriot: Saturday's Lafayette-Lehigh winner will earn the league title and the automatic bid.
Pioneer: Butler and Marist are the co-champions, but Butler earned the league's first-ever automatic bid on a tiebreaker.
Southern: Tennessee at Chattanooga is sitting in first place as it gets set to shock, er, play Alabama on Saturday. Samford, which plays Elon, and Furman, which plays Wofford, can each tie Chattanooga for the title with a win. In a three-way tie, Furman will earn the AQ. In the two possible two-way ties, Samford holds the tiebreaker over Chattanooga and Chattanooga holds the tiebreaker over Furman.
Southland: Frontrunning Southeastern Louisiana has secured the AQ and will win an outright title with either a win over Nicholls or a loss by second-place McNeese State to Lamar.
SWAC: Division champions Jackson State (East) and Southern (West) will meet in the conference championship game on Dec. 7 in Houston. No team is considered a possibility for an at-large playoff bid.
WHAT WE KNOW, WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW
The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at http://tinyurl.com/88q2k7t.
Also, throughout season, In the FCS Huddle has been projecting the potential FCS playoff field. The projections are a long-range look at the season - not based off current records or rankings - and can be found at http://www.sportsnetwork.com/fcs/FCS_Bracket.pdf.
WEEK 13 PICKS
Week 12 Record: 45-17 (.726)
Season Record: 578-200 (.743)
Thursday, Nov 21
Nicholls (4-7, 1-5 Southland) at X-No. 8 Southeastern Louisiana (9-2, 6-0), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 23
Liberty (7-4, 3-1 Big South) at X-No. 18 Charleston Southern (10-2, 3-1), 11 a.m.
X-Harvard (8-1, 5-1 Ivy) at Yale (5-4, 3-3), noon
X-No. 4 Maine (10-1, 7-0 CAA) at No. 21 New Hampshire (6-4, 5-2), noon
Duquesne (6-4) at X-Monmouth (6-5), noon
Wofford (5-5, 4-3 Southern) at X-Furman (6-5, 5-2), noon
Robert Morris (5-5, 3-2 NEC) at X-Saint Francis (Pa.) (4-6, 2-3), noon
The Citadel (5-6) at X-Clemson (9-1), noon
Old Dominion (8-3) at X-North Carolina (5-5), noon
Game of the Week: Lafayette (4-6, 3-1 Patriot) at X-No. 17 Lehigh (8-2, 3-1), 12:30 p.m. The most-played game in college football history - this is the 149th meeting - has the best story line this weekend. The winner claims an outright Patriot League title and heads to the postseason.
Georgetown (1-9, 0-5 Patriot) at X-Holy Cross (3-8, 1-3), 12:30 p.m.
Cornell (2-7, 1-5 Ivy) at X-Penn (4-5, 3-3), 1 p.m.
X-South Carolina State (8-3, 6-1 MEAC) at Norfolk State (3-8, 3-4), 1 p.m.
X-No. 12 Fordham (10-1) at Colgate (4-7), 1 p.m.
X-Bryant (4-7, 2-3 NEC) at Central Connecticut State (4-7, 2-3), 1 p.m.
Albany (1-10, 0-7 CAA) at X-Stony Brook (4-6, 2-5), 1 p.m.
North Carolina Central (5-6, 3-4 MEAC) at X-North Carolina A&T (6-4, 3-4), 1 p.m.
X-Charlotte (4-6) at Morehead State (3-8), 1 p.m.
X-Gardner-Webb (6-5, 1-3 Big South) at Presbyterian (3-7, 1-3), 1 p.m.
X-Eastern Kentucky (6-5, 4-3 OVC) at Murray State (5-6, 3-4), 1 p.m.
X-Campbell (2-9, 1-6 Pioneer) at Davidson (0-10, 0-7), 1 p.m.
Howard (5-6, 3-4 MEAC) at X-Hampton (4-7, 4-3), 1 p.m.
No. 11 Coastal Carolina (10-1) at X-South Carolina (8-2), 1 p.m.
X-Brown (5-4, 2-4 Ivy) at Columbia (0-9, 0-6), 1:30 p.m.
X-No. 22 Princeton (8-1, 6-0 Ivy) at Dartmouth (5-4, 4-2), 1:30 p.m.
X-Bucknell (5-5) at VMI (2-9), 1:30 p.m.
Alabama A&M (4-7) at X-Georgia Tech (6-4), 1:30 p.m.
Morgan State (4-7, 4-3 MEAC) at X-Delaware State (5-5, 5-2), 2 p.m.
Florida A&M (3-8, 2-5 MEAC) vs. X-No. 14 Bethune-Cookman (9-2, 6-1) at Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., 2 p.m.
Georgia Southern (6-4) at X-Florida (4-6), 2 p.m.
X-No. 16 South Dakota State (7-4, 4-3 Missouri Valley) at No. 15 Youngstown State (8-3, 5-2), 2 p.m.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-8, 2-6 SWAC) at X-Prairie View A&M (5-6, 4-4), 2 p.m.
X-No. 2 Eastern Illinois (10-1, 7-1 OVC) at UT Martin (7-4, 5-2), 2 p.m.
No. 23 Chattanooga (8-3) at X-Alabama (10-0), 2 p.m.
X-Southern Illinois (6-5, 4-3 Missouri Valley) at Indiana State (1-10, 0-7), 2:05 p.m.
No. 5 Montana (9-2, 5-2 Big Sky) at X-No. 13 Montana State (7-4, 5-2), 2:05 p.m.
X-Cal Poly (5-6, 4-3 Big Sky) at Northern Colorado (1-10, 0-7), 2:05 p.m.
Austin Peay (0-11, 0-7 OVC) at X-Tennessee Tech (4-7, 1-6), 2:30 p.m.
Elon (2-9, 1-6 Southern) at X-No. 24 Samford (7-4, 5-2), 3 p.m.
Idaho State (3-8, 1-6 Big Sky) at X-Weber State (1-10, 0-7), 3 p.m.
No. 10 Northern Arizona (8-2, 6-1 Big Sky) at X-No. 20 Southern Utah (8-3, 5-2), 3:05 p.m.
South Dakota (4-7, 3-4 Missouri Valley) at X-No. 1 North Dakota State (10-0, 7-0), 3:30 p.m.
Delaware (7-4, 4-3 CAA) vs. X-Villanova (5-5, 4-3) at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., 3:30 p.m.
James Madison (6-5, 3-4 CAA) at X-No. 7 Towson (9-2, 5-2), 3:30 p.m.
Western Carolina (2-9, 1-6 Southern) at X-Appalachian State (3-8, 3-4), 3:30 p.m.
Southeast Missouri State (3-8, 2-5 OVC) at X-Jacksonville State (8-3, 4-3), 4 p.m.
X-Stephen F. Austin (3-8, 1-5 Southland) at Northwestern State (5-6, 2-4), 4 p.m.
Stetson (2-8, 1-6 Pioneer) at X-Mercer (9-2, 5-2), 4 p.m.
X-No. 9 Sam Houston State (8-3, 4-2 Southland) at Central Arkansas (6-5, 3-3), 4 p.m.
X-No. 19 William & Mary (7-4, 4-3 CAA) at Richmond (5-6, 3-4), 4 p.m.
Western Illinois (4-7, 2-5 Missouri Valley) at X-Northern Iowa (6-5, 2-5), 5 p.m.
Portland State (6-5, 3-4) at X-No. 3 Eastern Washington (9-2, 7-0), 5:45 p.m.
UC Davis (4-7, 4-3 Big Sky) at X-Sacramento State (5-6, 4-3), 6:35 p.m.
X-No. 6 McNeese State (9-2, 5-1 Southland) at Lamar (5-6, 2-4), 7 p.m.
11/20 11:19:39 ET