Wagner routed defending Northeast Conference champion and previous front runner Albany last week, 30-0. The Seahawks are in position for a berth in the FCS Playoffs as a result, providing the Staten Island-based college’s athletes a needed distraction for a few hours amid the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“Having recently spent some time on Staten Island, I think it’s safe to say there’s not a better story than Wagner right now. Go Seahawks!”
SoCon John shared a great story of overcoming off-field tragedy from Appalachian State:
After a win at East Tennessee State back in 2000, Appalachian State was looking to celebrate a big win over the Buccaneers, but instead would see that win overshadowed by some moments all involved will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
On the way back to Boone from Johnson City, Tenn., an ASU van carrying some team video personnel and some student trainers, collided with a truck that swerved into their lane, causing a fire inside the van carrying the video personnel and team managers. The driver of the truck, however, was killed on impact.
Fortunately, the buses carrying Mountaineer football players and coaches weren’t far behind, allowing former assistants Stacey Searels, Rob Best and Shawn Elliott to become “Appalachian Heroes” as the trio of coaches actually ripped seats out of the van to rescue some of the ASU team that were pinned behind the seats with the fire being a very real threat. The aforementioned trio were awarded the NCAA’s “Valor” award for putting their lives on the line that night
For the efforts of Searels, Elliott and Best, the staff was able to prevent any tragedy. Some the staff were able to listen or watch the Mountaineers take down a top-five ranked Furman team at the hospital the following Saturday, getting an emotional 18-17 win over the Paladins. What made the win even more impressive for the Apps was the fact that the Mountaineers had to rebound from a 14-3 deficit in the contest to get the win.
Towson is fighting to finish the season with four straight wins and earn an improbable at-large playoff berth. Tiger star Terrance West has hit his stride despite personal loss as Joe Suhoski details.
Terrance West, the reigning Jerry Rice Award winner as last year’s best freshman in FCS, missed a home game against Old Dominion a few weeks ago. He was dressed on the sidelines and appeared able to play, but Rob Ambrose never put him in. After the game – a 31-20 loss to the Monarchs – it was revealed that there was a death in West’s immediate family. Speculation followed about whose choice it was for West to not play, but we’ll leave that to others.
The following week, with their playoff hopes on the line, the Tigers traveled to Villanova and ran all over the field on them. In Towson’s win over VU, West rushed 23 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns; for good measure he chipped in a 78-yard touchdown reception. Last week rushed another 30 times for 113 yards and two more touchdowns. Suffice it to say, he has responded well to losing someone close in his family in the middle of a season.
The ultimately trivial matter of winning and losing football games takes a backseat to the true trials and tribulations of life, but the game can provide needed distraction.
For FCS programs, there are just two Saturdays left in the regular season and the playoff picture is as crowded as imaginable.
Todd Davis, JMUSportsBlog.com
Significant Work Left to Do: Really doesn’t look like 7-4 will get anyone in the nation in the playoffs (though if anyone has a shot it’s probably Towson whose losses are at FBS LSU and 8-1 Kent St. and to FCS Top 10 teams JMU and ODU. So really anyone that needs to win out to get to 8-3 has significant work left to do. Eastern Illinois, Richmond, McNeese St., and Villanova all fall into this batch. In general, the CAA, the Big Sky, and the OVC in particular have more teams that already have 7 D1 wins than the number of playoff bids those conference will earn, so anyone in those conferences w/out 8 wins has work to do. Needless to say, all those at-large hopefuls have to be rooting for Lehigh!
Rising: Wagner, Stony Brook, Bethune-Cookman, App. St., Tenn-Martin, Sam Houston St., Northern Arizona
Cal Poly has to be the school on edge the most out of anyone. While they have a not-guaranteed-but-almost-surefire-win against Idaho State next week, their last game of the season is going on the road against a tough Northern Arizona team. They are in a situation where they need to win out to make the playoffs.
Incidentally – I think Northern Arizona should also be on notice. They have two really tough games left against a tough Southern Utah team (who beat Eastern Washington) as well as the game I just mentioned against Cal Poly. Northern Arizona could probably lose one of those games and still get in, but neither of those games are gimmes and Northern Arizona could quickly find themselves on the outside looking in.
I think it goes without question that the conference to watch in the last two weeks of ball is the Big Sky. There is a lot of great football being played in that conference and the playoff picture can shift quickly depending on these teams handle themselves down the stretch. As a small anecdote (moreso for me than anyone else) – I’m proud to say that my “going out on a limb” piece included in the FCS Roundtable from Aug. 29th was dead on. Montana will miss the playoffs despite having a such talented team. It’s really unfortunate and I hope they bounce back quickly.
Joe Suhoski, VBR Productions
Three CAA teams have already reached seven wins this season (UNH, ODU and JMU) with two weeks remaining; the Wildcats and Monarchs themselves already have eight. Another three (Richmond, Villanova and Towson) have a chance to garner seven themselves – Villanova, Richmond and Towson.
Given the number of teams that have or will reach the magical seven-win mark, it’s important for the last three listed to play well down the stretch. The Wildcats host JMU before traveling to Delaware to take on the Blue Hens; two wins will give them eight on the season. Richmond hosts those Hens this week then travel to William and Mary to close the season (in one of the oldest rivalries in college football). They also can reach eight wins should they win out. Lastly, Towson battles Rhode Island before taking on conference leader New Hampshire.
All three members of the above trio need to impress the next two weeks. Towson and Richmond both beat Villanova, though ‘Nova is the only team to have beaten Old Dominion this season. Towson could make the biggest statement of the three by beating UNH at season’s end, but would the NCAA selection committee put a seven-win CAA team in over either UV or Richmond should the win eight games each?
I won’t label any of these as “rising” or “fading,” though Towson is certainly on the rise; I’ll just say that all three need to win out to be considered for an at-large bid to the playoffs.
Ben Moore, PantherTalk.com
Work Left To Do
Coastal Carolina – Must win final 2 games
Villanova – Hosting James Madison this Saturday. Should be a great game.
New Hampshire – CAA’s Hottest Team
Stony Brook – Big South’s Finest rolling right now
Central Arkansas – Bears Shaking the Southland right now
Samford – Defeated Wofford but have lost 2 out of last 3.
Drake – Looked like a lock in the Pioneer League before a brutal final 3 games started with loss with vs. Dayton last Saturday