The 2012 FCS Playoffs have a distinct flavoring of Southern Conference and Big South Conference teams. Five squads from the two leagues were selected to the post-season. The three teams that tied for the Southern Conference title – Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and Wofford – all received spots. Each of them has a first-round bye and will play at home in the second round on Dec. 1.
By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
Coastal Carolina and Stony Brook – two of the three teams that were co-champs for the Big South Conference – also received playoff assignments. They will start the playoffs in the first round on Nov. 24.
Stony Brook hosts CAA member Villanova Saturday afternoon while Coastal Carolina – which gained the Big South automatic bid through a tiebreaker – visits Bethune-Cookman Saturday.
Georgia Southern will welcome Central Arkansas to Statesboro on Dec. 1. That same afternoon, Illinois State visits Appalachian State and New Hampshire goes to Wofford.
Seawolves Make It Two Years in a Row
Stony Brook (9-2), which stormed through much of its schedule before stumbling at Liberty on Nov. 10, enters the playoffs rested. The Seawolves took their open date on the last weekend of the regular season.
They’ll face a Villanova (8-3) team that was one of four teams that tied for second in the CAA with 6-2 marks. It should be a competitive contest though Stony Brook has the advantage of playing at home where it is undefeated (6-0) this season.
The Seawolves field the 5th-best scoring defense (16 points allowed per game) in FCS and the 6th-best scoring offense (39 points scored per game). Villanova is 24th in scoring defense (21) and 32nd in scoring offense (31).
Of course, newly crowned Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year Miguel Maysonet paced the Stony Brook offense. The senior running back averaged 156.5 yards rushing a game and has 1,721 yards on the ground. He scored 19 of his 21 touchdowns rushing. Maysonet put together three games with more than 200 yards rushing.
The Wildcats will have to pay attention to the Seawolves other weapons that include running back Marcus Coker (3rd in Big South rushing with 855 yards and nine touchdowns), second-team All Big South quarterback Kyle Essington (best pass efficiency in the conference), All Big South wide receiver Kevin Norrell (60 catches), and All Big South placekicker Wesley Skiffington (led Big South kickers in scoring).
It will be interesting if one of the defenses in this game breaks. Both offenses average well over 400 yards of total offense a game. Villanova allows 346 yards of total offense a game. Stony Brook ranked 7th in total defense, surrendering an average of 297 yards per contest.
Shades of 2010
Just two years ago, Coastal Carolina strung together wins at the end of the season, forging a three-way tie with Stony Brook and Liberty. The Chanticleers won the tiebreaker and captured the very first Big South Conference automatic bid to the playoffs.
This year, Coastal dropped its league opener to Stony Brook 27-21 and fell to 2-4 overall. The record at that point included an overtime win at Furman and losses to Eastern Kentucky and Appalachian State. The squad dropped a tough 38-28 game at Toledo as well.
From there, the Chanticleers under first-year head coach Joe Moglia – the Big South Coach of the Year – blazed a red-hot trail through the conference. They won their last five games, all league contests, by an average score of 46 to 16.
That finish, along with Liberty’s Nov. 10 upset of Stony Brook, created another three-way gridlock. Coastal Carolina won the tiebreaker and thus will travel to face MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman (9-2, 8-0), which raced through its league slate undefeated.
A search of the Top 10 in all of the FCS team statistics won’t reveal Coastal Carolina once. The Chanticleers rank 15th in scoring (35 points a game) and 21st in total offense (434 yards per game).
Bethune-Cookman, however, delivered the 10th-best scoring defense (18 points allowed per game), rushing offense (247), and pass defense. It also ranked fifth in total defense (294).
The Chanticleers found a rushing game over the second-half of the season, and quarterback Aramis Hillary is one of the better all-around signal callers. They’ll need all of their weapons against the tough Bethune-Cookman defense.
Linebacker Quinn Backus leads the Chanticleer defense, and the Wildcats will have to account for him in their game planning. He did a little bit of everything – 123 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries – on his way to being named Big South Defensive Player of the Year.
Coastal and Bethune-Cookman had one common opponent this season, and the results were similar. Both hosted North Carolina A&T. The Chanticleers won 29-13. The Wildcats won 28-12.