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Big South Has Plans for the Three-Team Tie

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Just a week away from the Big South Conference sending its first automatic qualifier to the FCS playoffs, the league is preparing for the possibility of three teams tying for the top spot.

Coastal Carolina's victory over Liberty last Saturday raised the question of how the Big South would pick one team out of three if there's no clear head-to-head advantage. If Liberty beats Stony Brook this Saturday and Coastal Carolina downs Charleston Southern, the Flames, Seawolves, and Chanticleers will all be 5-1. Coastal will own a win over Liberty, Liberty over Stony Brook, and Stony Brook over Coastal.

Mark Simpson, the Big South's assistant commissioner for Public Relations, released the scenarios for each of the three leaders and how the matter will be settled. Basically, the league has to go to its fourth level of tiebreakers. So if those three teams finished tied for first, the team that has allowed the fewest points in conference games gets the automatic qualifier spot. Right now, that favors Stony Brook, which has surrendered just 68 points while building a 5-0 Big South record. Coastal has given up 106 and Liberty 110. So Stony Brook could lose to Liberty and still get the nod even if Coastal Carolina wins. The Seawolves would have to give up 39 points while Coastal pitches a shutout for that to change (or some similar numbers). It's possible, but is it likely?

So, with the information from Simpson, here's how it looks for the big three:

Stony Brook (5-0 in the Big South, 68 points allowed in league games)
The Seawolves win the title outright with a victory at Liberty. As stated, if Stony Brooks loses and Coastal Carolina wins, the Seawolves still get the AQ if they maintain their lead in points allowed.

Coastal Carolina (4-1, 106)
The Chanticleers need to beat Charleston Southern and Liberty to beat Stony Brook and finish with the fewest points allowed. Coastal Carolina will be hoping for the Flames to have a really, really great offensive scoring burst Saturday.

Liberty (4-1, 110)
If the Flames beat Stony Brook and Coastal Carolina loses, the Flames will get the AQ because it will be a two-way tie and they will have the head-to-head advantage. Should Liberty and Coastal Carolina both win Saturday, the Flames will need to give up at least five points fewer than the Chanticleers do on Saturday.

For its first year with an automatic bid to the playoffs, going to the last regular-season Saturday with three teams still alive is about as good as it gets.

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