By Sam Partridge
The CAA Today Columnist
College Sporting News
In a lot of ways, that's how the FCS season plays out. We come in with certain ideas, based on assumptions, past histories and new personnel and each week we gather new information and process who we think our group of suspects (playoff teams) are. This season was a little different because we expanded the playoff field to 24 in a year where a few of the usual mugs (Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Old Dominion) weren't playoff eligible. This led to a playoff race with some standouts at the top and a muddled mass at the bottom that would be tough for any veteran observer to sort out.
For the CAA, as recently as two weeks ago, there were six teams still in the mix for a playoff spot, but a combination of tough opponents, poor play and spectacular comeback doomed three of the teams and left the conference with two possible seeds (Maine and Towson) and one bubble team (UNH). It was a disappointing finish to a surprising and somewhat unpredictable season.
Here's the CAA Today playoff projection.
1. North Dakota State plays the winner of New Hampshire/Lafayette
8. Maine plays the winner of Fordham/Sacred Heart
4. Southeast Louisiana play the winner of Samford/Jacksonville State
5. Towson plays the winner of South Carolina State/Coastal Carolina
6. McNeese St plays the winner of Furman/Bethune-Cookman
3. Eastern Illinois plays the winner of Chattannoga/Tennessee State
7. Montana play the winner of South Dakota State/Sam Houston State
2. Eastern Washington plays the winner of Northern Arizona/Butler
I didn't have a problem coming up with the first 23 teams, but the last spot was really up for grabs between teams that were hard to define as "deserving". Ultimately, I went with the two-time finalist Bearkats from Sam Houston State. At 11:30 this morning, we'll find out what direction the committee chose to go in. Could they select the first 5-loss at-large team in FCS history? Maybe. Can't wait to find out. It's playoff time everybody!