FCS Roundtable: Pop Goes The Bubble


The playoff landscape is clearing. Heading into Week 10, the panel discusses which programs saw their bubbles burst and which have work left to do. Visit the panelists’ home sites for great FCS coverage all week.

Russell Varner, SouthernPigskin.com

Eastern Washington – Bubble burst. 4-5 record overall after losing by 17 at home? I get the feeling they have already lost their shot to defend their title.

Furman – Bubble still alive. The big test comes this week. See below for why.

Illinois State – Bubble still alive. It may only be an eight point victory over 2-6 Southern Illinois team, but it is still a win.

Indiana State – Bubble still alive. They have a huge test of their own this weekend when No. 1 North Dakota State comes to town. This could very well be their season.

Old Dominion – Bubble still alive and well. You beat James Madison and improve your record to 6-2 and 4-2 in the difficult CAA? Yeah, you are in.

Stony Brook – Bubble still alive. They took care of business and shut out Coastal Carolina. It will all come down to the season finale.

Weber State – Bubble burst. A losing record and just got destroyed by Montana. With that loss went their playoff hopes.

I’m expecting at least of those whose bubbles are not burst yet will be by the end of this week. My predictions? Of the teams listed above, I’m expecting Indiana State and Furman (unfortunately, as much as I’d love to see as much to see as many SoCon teams get in as possible) will lose and see their bubbles bursts.

Bigger win? I say Appalachian State. This is a team that a month ago looked like a shell of their former selves and like a squad that would not be able to stay on the field with the Eagles, let alone beat them. This App team has improve exponentially throughout the season and, with this win, put themselves in great position to make the playoffs and win the conference. North Dakota State did have a great win for their program, but the Mountaineers needed that win worse than they did.

My eyes will be on the same two teams I just mentioned and on the battle of the SoCon West.

1. Appalachian State at Furman – This is a pretty big rivalry game and Furman is battling for their playoff lives while Appalachian State is coming off the biggest win of the season. Can they avoid the letdown?

2. North Dakota State at Indiana State – Exact same situation as listed above, minus the rivalry part. Indiana State can solidify their playoff hopes with a win and North Dakota State has to avoid a big letdown.

3. Chattanooga at Samford – The Bulldogs have been the surprise of the SoCon this year and Chattanooga are a few close losses away from the top of the conference. Will BJ Coleman be back taking snaps for the Mocs after the great play of freshman Terrell Robinson? Will Samford improve their already slim playoff chances with a win?

Kyle Roth, Bison Illustrated

Eastern Washington – BUSTED. The Eagles drop to 4-5  after this weekend and are now eliminated from reaching 7 D-I wins, and the conference championship will very likely be decided by Montana-MSU. Tough break for a team that was able to bounce back from an 0-4 start, but they just couldn’t bounce high enough.

Furman – NEARLY BUSTED. Despite a good win at Chattanooga, the Paladins still find themselves needing to win two of their three remaining games just to get to 7 wins, those being home contests vs. App. St. and Elon and a season-finale road game versus the Florida Gators. The good news is that if they do beat ASU, that (along with Wofford) is a good enough resume-padder to fit them in with 7 wins as an at-large bid. Still, they’re on the razor’s edge of dropping out and we’ll know more after this weekend.

Illinois State – NEARLY IN. A solid win at Southern Illinois (prior to this year the Salukis had lost just four home games in eight years – this season they’ve lost three already) leaves the Redbirds needing to win just one more game to get to 7 D-I wins, both home contests against Western Illinois (probable win) and Northern Iowa after a late-season bye-week. A 7-win ISU team is questionable as they have no solid OOC wins aside from a pretty soft Southeast Missouri State, but an extra week to prepare could leave them primed to beat UNI, which would leave them at 8-3 and definitely in. I’d give it about 60-40 they make the playoffs with a win over WIU this weekend.

Indiana State – SKETCHY. The Sycs need to win two more games to get to 7 D-I wins, and face NDSU and Southern Illinois at home and Missouri State on the road. The latter two are down enough to assume wins, but the Sycamores have an opportunity to put a gem on their resume by upsetting the #1 Bison this weekend. NDSU has some injury problems along the defensive line, and as the Sycs host one of the top rushers in the nation they have a pretty good chance to make something happen this Saturday. The MVFC is suddenly a dogfight for places 2-4, and with the Bison already locked in, it’s likely one of those three (Ill. St., In. St., UNI) will be left out in the cold in December.

Old Dominion – IN. The Monarchs got their 7th win this weekend and have two winnable games to pad that resume vs. Richmond this weekend and at William and Mary next week. The only really good win on their schedule is over James Madison and is otherwise pretty lackluster, but it’s a safe bet that they’ll win at least one of two remaining and an eighth win locks them in. Good for them.

Stony Brook – PUSH. Another week closer to a likely match of undefeateds in conference as the season finale vs. Liberty will likely determine the Big South’s lone representative in the playoffs. I don’t see the Seawolves losing at either Charleston Southern or Gardner-Webb, for what it’s worth.

Weber State – BUSTED. Needed to win out and lost at Montana.

In and of the bubble teams, the two to watch will be Furman and Indiana State. Both are fighting for their playoff lives at home versus highly-ranked teams, so the killer instinct should be strong with each. With both backed against the wall, those should be two very entertaining football games.

I like Illinois State and Old Dominion to qualify and solidify their playoff positions, respectively. Both face pretty underwhelming opponents, though ODU has the tougher challenge with the benefit of playing them at home. Illinois State’s success sets up a home-run of a game on November 19th as they’ve got a bye week to exploit a UNI team that could find themselves on the ropes after leading the conference just a week ago. When all’s said and done, the MVFC could wind up with four teams finishing with eight wins. Youngstown State is technically in the mix but play at Northern Iowa and at NDSU in the next two weeks, which will be a buzzsaw to try and get through unscathed. Two very intriguing weeks for the MVFC starting Saturday.

I think the bigger statement game between NDSU and Appalachian State goes to the Bison – Fargo is still trying to live down the early stagger when in 2008 the Bison came onto the scene ranked at the top and the team responded with 6-5 and 3-8 seasons. Now with the team roaring to the top of the MVFC, they’re suddenly the favorite for the no. 1 seed and with that, the championship Bison fans expect.

Ben Moore, PantherTalk.com

Still/Now Buying: Furman, Old Dominion, Stony Brook
Still Selling:  Indiana State
Sold: Eastern Washington, Weber State
App State’s win was an absolutely statement game that has national championship ramifications in my mind.  The Mountaineer defense mauled the Eagle rushing attack limiting them to an unheard of 2.6 yards per rush (entering the game, Southern averaged 6.5 yards per rush).  If not for a ridiculous individual effort on a punt return for a touchdown by Darrieon Robinson, this game was a two score game.
What I’m watching in Week 10
Towson at Maine – Arguably the most suprising #1 vs. #2 in the major conference FCS football.  A huge game in the CAA.
Appalachain State at Furman – How will the emotional home victory carry over for the Mountaineers?  Can the Paladins rise to the occasion at home?
Richmond at Old Dominion – I believe the Monarch punch their first ever FCS Playoff ticket here and run the Spiders out of Norfolk.

Joe Suhoski, VBR Productions

With losses this past weekend, both Eastern Washington (4-5) and Weber State (3-5) saw their bubbles burst.  Neither team will win their conference and I don’t see the selection committee giving an at-large bid to any team with five losses.  Old Dominion pulled a page from its men’s basketball team and solidified its bubble with a win over James Madison Saturday.  It will be hard for the Monarchs to win the CAA but with seven D1 wins and four in-conference wins already, things are looking better than at this time last week.
This week I’m looking forward to Cal-Poly Mustangs at UC-Davis.  The Mustangs are 5-3, with two losses to FBS teams (San Diego State and Northern Illinois) and the third to Montana.  If they can beat the Aggies and closes with wins over Eastern Washington and South Alabama the following week, their resume will include eight wins without a “bad” loss.  James Madison travels to New Hampshire coming off a loss to ODU, plus has lost both starting offensive tackles to injuries.  At 5-3 with three games remaining, a loss to the Wildcats would push them closer to the bubble. 
North Dakota State’s win over UNI sent a bigger statement than Appalachian State’s win over Georgia Southern did.  Although the Eagles were ranked #1 in the country, they still have a chance to get a signature win at Wofford on November 12.  The Bison win was bigger as it moved them to #1 in the country, plus their remaining schedule consists of three teams with a combined twelve wins.  They needed a big win over a program like Northern Iowa.