FCS Roundtable: Buy or Sell Playoff Bubble Teams


October’s nearing its end, and November is Playoff Season. Most of the bubble floating about the FCS landscape will burst, but there are those destined to land on postseason ground. The Roundtable plays Buy Or Sell with a few of these bubble teams. The panelists discuss:

Eastern Washington: 4-4, 4-2 Big Sky Conference

• Key Wins: vs. Weber State; at Sacramento State

• Remaining Games: Sat. vs. Portland State; Nov. 12 at Cal Poly; Nov. 19 at Idaho State

Furman: 4-3, 3-2 Southern Conference

• Key Wins: vs. Wofford

• Remaining Games: Sat. vs. Chattanooga; Nov. 5 vs. Appalachian State; Nov. 12 vs. Elon; Nov. 19 at Florida

Illinois State: 5-3, 3-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference

• Key Wins: vs. South Dakota; vs. Indiana State

• Remaining Games: Sat. at Southern Illinois; Nov. 5 vs. Western Illinois; Nov. 19 vs. Northern Iowa

Indiana State: 5-3, 3-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference

• Key Wins: at Western Kentucky; vs. Youngstown State

• Remaining Games: Nov. 5 vs. North Dakota State; Nov. 12 at Missouri State; Nov. 19 vs. Southern Illinois

Old Dominion: 6-2, 3-2 CAA

• Key Wins: vs. UMass

• Remaining Games: Sat. vs. James Madison; Nov. 5 vs. Richmond; Nov. 12 at William & Mary

Stony Brook: 4-3, 2-0 Big South

• Key Wins: vs. N/A

• Remaining Games: Sat. vs. Coastal Carolina; Nov. 5 at Charleston Southern; Nov. 12 at Gardner-Webb; Nov. 19 vs. Liberty

Weber State: 3-4, 3-1 Big Sky Conference

• Key Wins: Sacramento State

• Remaining Games: Sat. at Montana; Nov. 5 vs. Montana State; Nov. 12 vs. Northern Arizona; Nov. 19 at Portland State

Russell Varner, SouthernPigskin.com

Furman – Buy. This team has studs on both sides of the ball. RB Jerodis Williams has been battling Eric Breitenstein for the conference rushing title all year, Chris Forcier has come into his own at QB and LB Kadarron Anderson and CB Ryan Steed are two of the best at their positions.

Eastern Washington – Buy. They are the defending national champs for a reason. I’ve found it best to not bet against champs.

Weber State – Sell. As of now. But they have big games coming up against Montana and Montana State and have a big win against Sacramento State on their resume already. So things could change quickly.

Illinois State – Buy. 5-3 overall, 3-2 in the tough MVFC, three losses by a combined 25 points? Yea, I’ll take it. I can see them being 7-3 going into their season finale against Northern Iowa. A win there and they are definitely in at 8-3 in my opinion.

Indiana State – Sell. Somewhere, Larry Bird is crying because of this. Or not. I just haven’t been sold on this team so far. Gotta pass on them.

Old Dominion – Sell. Weak OOC is the reason they have so many wins already. Don’t get me wrong, they are a great story and I can see them making the playoffs. Just not this year.

Stony Brook – Sell. They are hosting Liberty in the season to more or less decide who gets into the playoffs, but I think Liberty wins that game. Short, sweet and simple.

Week 8 Stars

Third Star: DeAndre Presley, App State quarter…I mean cornerback. Yes, you read that right. Since Jamal Jackson took over Presley’s role as starting QB, Presley got the start at CB over Ed Gainey, who did not play. With less than a week of practice, he had six tackles and a forced fumble. Not bad.

Second Star: Terrell Robinson, Chatty quarterback. Ok, read the following statline and remember this kid is a freshman: 11-13 passing, 140 yards, three touchdowns. 14 carries, 115 yards. Again, by a FRESHMAN.

First Star: Jerodis Williams, Furman running back. Remember how earlier I talked about how he was battling Breitenstein for the conference rushing title? Well, he outran Breitenstein and led the Paladins to an upset over the #4 Terriers Saturday with his 155 yard, two TD performance.

Top games for Week 9? I mean, are we allowed to say anything other than UNI-NDSU and Georgia Southern-App? Honestly, both would be good for College Gameday to go visit (better than LA for Stanford-USC if you ask me). Two top five matchups that will go a long way in determine conference champions and playoff seeding. Really, do I need to say anything else? Really?

Ben Moore, PantherTalk.com & SBNation Atlanta

Buying: Furman, Eastern Washington, Old Dominion
Selling: Weber State, Indiana State, Stony Brook

Top Performances for Week 8
Eastern Washington Bo Levi Mitchell – The Soph. was 29/45 for 357 yards and 4 TDs in a comeback victory over Sacramento State.
Furman RB Jerodis Williams – The Junior rushed 22 times for 155 yards in a big home victory over Wofford.
Georgia State WR Albert Wilson – The RS Soph. caught 5 balls for 175 yards and 2 TDs in a 27-20 OT victory over FBS transitional member South Alabama.

Top Games for Week 9

James Madison at Old Dominion – The 6-3 Monarchs host the 5-2 Dukes in a huge CAA battle.

Georgia Southern at Appalachain State – Will the #1 Eagles continue to roll or will the Mountaineers register the enormous victory?

Tennessee Tech at Jacksonville State – After the Gamecocks fell at Kentucky, can they continue their OVC roll?

Joe Suhoski, VBR Productions & SaturdayBlitz.com CAA Analyst

Furman – SELL – Their three next games include at UTC and home against Appalachian State and Elon. Their season closes at Florida. I don’t see the Paladins winning three of these four games to get to seven wins.

Eastern Washington – BUY – They should win their last two conference games and have a winnable game against Cal-Poly. They’ve got a bye after this week’s game to get healthy. Last year’s national title is probably still fresh in the minds of the selection committee, and seven wins gets a proven winner into the playoffs.

Weber State – SELL – The Wildcats’ next two games are against Montana and Montana State. They will not get to seven wins with both those teams on their schedule in consecutive weeks.

Illinois State – SELL – Three of their five wins are against teams with two-or-fewer wins this season. Their best chance at a quality win is the season finale against Northern Iowa, a team I don’t predict them defeating.

Indiana State – HOLD – If they can defeat unbeaten North Dakota State next weekend after this weekend’s bye, they’ve got winnable games after that and can attain an impressive eight wins.

Old Dominion – ABSTAIN – The fact that my alma mater is simply considered a bubble team in less than three seasons of existence is impressive. I admittedly can’t think logically about their playoff chances and don’t want to sound untilligent with a prediction. (At least, any more unintelligent than usual.)

Stony Brook – SELL – One of their three wins is against St. Anselm, a non-Division 1 school. They’d have to win their next four games, all in-conference, to get to seven FCS wins. I don’t see that happening with Liberty on the schedule.

For Week 8 I want to mention the Camels of Campbell University. The program started in 2008 as a non-scholarship FCS team; they won a total of seven games their first three seasons, not winning more than three in a year. Last weekend they hosted San Diego, who had been unbeaten in Patriot League play, and posted a 48-24 victory behind six interceptions against the Toreros. The Camels’ record is only 4-3 so they need two more wins to be guaranteed a winning record; but it’s good to see the team’s four-year players already post a program-best in wins their final season.

For Week 9 in the CAA, several eyes will be turned towards Norfolk, VA, where Old Dominion hosts James Madison. Both schools have been full members of the CAA (not football for ODU) for close to two decades, and the teams had some great basketball contests in the early 90’s. Football adds dimensions to the rivalry that can’t exist without the sport.

But the game also signals the return of the Oyster Bowl (click the link for more background: http://www.odusports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/042311aab.html ). One dollar was added to the cost of each ticket for this game, meaning at least $15K has already been raised for the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children. (The other 4K seats are for students, which are not “sold.”) You can bet the Shriners will also have a presence before and after the game to seek additional donations. SaturdayBlitz.com is obviously dedicated to football, but it’s important to point out when opportunities like this occur.

Kyle Roth, Bison Illustrated & Bison Sports Blog

Furman – The win over Wofford made a believer out of me and while they’ve still got some very losable games left (@ Chattanooga, vs. App. St., vs. Elon, and @ Florida) winning their next three will leave them at seven wins and with a pretty strong resume to grab a fourth at-large spot out of the SoCon. Won’t be easy, but I think they have a reasonable chance to pull it off.

Eastern Washington – Their game against Sacramento State might have been a playoff between the two teams looking for a third playoff spot in the Big Sky. Eastern Washington has a doable schedule to finish the season finishing with a pair of road games at Cal Poly and Idaho State, so the next two weeks will be critical but if they win we might have one of the season’s biggest turnarounds on our hands.

Weber State – Can’t afford another loss and play @ Montana and vs. Montana St. in consecutive weeks. I’m writing them off.

Illinois State – need to win 2 of 3 to get to seven wins, and with how strong the SoCon looks at-large spots might be tough to find. @ Southern Illinois isn’t the impossible task this year it’s been historically, but playing at home versus Northern Iowa to finish the season and asking for a win is a tall task. Win at SIU and we’ll talk.

Indiana State – I shudder to think about it as a Bison fan, but if the Sycamores can catch NDSU flat-footed after this weekend’s monster game against UNI in Fargo, they have a shot. A top-ten win plus beating either Missouri State or Southern Illinois (both assumable wins) leaves the Sycs well-positioned. Could ironically leave Ill. State out of the picture despite the Sycs losing to the Redbirds.

Old Dominion – Aside from James Madison, the Monarchs could very well run the table to finish the season and need just one more win to get to seven. Winning two pretty much guarantees them a spot and if that happens, the CAA could get a staggering five teams into the playoffs. This weekend’s game against JMU will be a big one.

Stony Brook – Could meet Liberty in the season finale with both teams undefeated in conference play, though I’d give a head-to-head to Liberty. Still, not written off.

The one game on my radar this weekend is NDSU vs. UNI. Two top-five teams, top two scoring defenses in the nation, and probably the two best quarterbacks in the Valley. Doubtless the biggest game the Fargodome has hosted since NDSU went D-I.

Tip of the cap goes to Illinois State DT Shelby Harris. Harris is a transfer from Wisconsin whose arrival in Normal has helped transform the Redbirds’ defense from swiss cheese to one of the premier run-stopping offenses in the Missouri Valley. Made several big plays including two sacks and a blocked extra point against Indiana State, a win which may have salvaged the Redbirds’ playoff hopes. ISU could very well do in the playoffs this year what NDSU did last season if they make the cut.