We're running out of runway on the FCS regular season, but that doesn't mean things are getting any less chaotic.
Hey everyone. It's your favorite HERO Sports truth-teller/degenerate gambler/Arthur Morgan wannabe. Brian is taking some family time tonight, which means your Week 10 Recap is brought to you by Uncle Chase. Don't touch anything without an expiration date on the jar, and everyone should make it out of here alive.
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I'm going to start with the madness happening in my own backyard in the CAA. Week 10 didn't bring clarity or finality to the CAA's ongoing struggle for supremacy at the top, but it did give us plenty of intriguing results. Just 10 days ago, Towson hadn't lost an FCS game all year and had sole possession of first place in the Colonial; now, the Tigers might need to win their final two games (@Elon, James Madison) just to make the playoffs. Speaking of Elon, freshman tailback Jaylan Thomas went for 222 yards on the ground just a few days after Malcolm Summers was shut down for the year, and the Phoenix held off JaJuan Lawson (he's back!) and Rhode Island, 24-21. Even Delaware had some late drama — the Blue Hens needed a last-minute touchdown from Pat Kehoe to escape Albany with a win, 21-16.
But I've buried the lede here. The game everyone is talking about is JMU's humbling loss at New Hampshire. The Dukes turned the ball over six times, benched starting quarterback Ben DiNucci in the first quarter and generally just looked like a very mortal team. I, of course, saw this coming from a mile away.
— Chase Kiddy (@chaseakiddy) November 3, 2018
What? How did that get in here? Let's just let the past stay in the past, you guys.
JMU's 35-24 loss at New Hampshire — and it wasn't that close, by the way — is likely the low point of the Mike Houston era, which is now 39 games old. To be fair, that's an era marked by uncommonly stable success and a deluge of seemingly never-ending good fortune, so this loss as the "low" isn't exactly a tragedy. Still, this moment — on the heels of a game JMU was never really in, with a renewed quarterback controversy and growing concerns about offensive limitations — feels like a critical moment for the Dukes. Houston and his staff are more than capable of making adjustments and mounting a deep playoff run, but 11th hour games against Rhode Island and Towson aren't exactly freebies. The fact that such an existential crisis happened in Durham — the same place where the 2016 team transformed into the group that won a national championship — is a strange sort of cross-season symmetry.
In other East Coast news, Princeton all but locked up the Ivy League title with a fantastic win over Dartmouth. The wind was whipping fiercely through New Jersey this afternoon, which gave Dartmouth's rugged offense an advantage over Princeton's powerful passing game. It looked like Dartmouth might grind its way to a win for a long time, too, after a second-quarter safety gave Big Green the lead for more than 30 minutes of game time. But Tigers QB John Lovett willed his team down the field in the heart of the fourth quarter, finally finding the end zone on a follow-your-blockers designed keeper. The final score was 14-9.
Out west, there was major turmoil all over the Dakotas. The Jackrabbits picked up where they left off last week, smashing a fast-fading Missouri State team 59-7. (Taryn Christion threw for four TD's.) The No. 1 Bison secured a survive-and-advance sort of win over visiting Youngstown State, winning an ugly contest 17-7. South Dakota suffered a 51-48 triple overtime road loss to Indiana State, giving the feisty Sycamores their third conference win of the season.
In the context of the playoffs, the biggest result from the Dakotas was Idaho's come-from-behind win over North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks were a legitimate contender for a playoff berth, but they probably needed to finish at 8-3, given the lack of a real marquee win on the resume. Now, the best UND can hope for is an at-large berth at 7-4, with wins over Montana and Sam Houston State. Neither of those are likely to be postseason teams, which makes the Hawks a tough sell.
[divider]PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Delaware's Big Upward Move[divider]
SATURDAY'S TOP UPSETS
1. New Hampshire 35, JMU 24
2. Tennessee Tech 27, Murray State 24
3. Idaho 31, UND 27
4. Howard 31, Florida A&M 23
[divider]HOW'D WE DO? Revisit Our Week 10 Predictions[divider]
ZERO MARGIN FOR ERROR
Aside from CAA drama and a few other key results, there weren't a ton of upsets today. Many game results went chalk down the line, including for newly minted Top-10 teams like Kennesaw State (45-0), Eastern Washington (48-13) and UC Davis (42-20).
However, there were some key conference leaders whose losses eroded any advantage head-to-head wins might have given them. Florida A&M stumbled at Howard, allowing more points than it had in an FCS game all year in a 31-23 loss. Wofford's 35-20 loss at Samford gave control of the topsy-turvy SoCon back to East Tennessee State. McNeese's second head-scratching Southland road loss in three weeks — 23-6 at Southeastern Louisiana — has left the Cowboys vulnerable once again.
- Go ahead and sit down so you can digest this shocking bit of news — the Missouri Valley absolutely belongs to undefeated No. 1 North Dakota State. With only two games left on the schedule, everyone is two games back of the reigning champs. They can officially clinch with a win the outright title at Missouri State next week, even though they pretty much had it locked up back in August.
- Don't look now, but Samford might seriously be in position to win the Southern Conference. ETSU is on top for now, and the Bucs will take a bye in Week 11 to get ready for a finale with the Bulldogs. Assuming Samford can take care of business against the Citadel next week, the SoCon will have four teams sitting at 5-2. Samford will have head-to-head wins against two of them (Furman and Wofford), setting up a de facto title game between the Bucs and Bulldogs.
- I could try to unpack the CAA for you, but honestly, nobody knows how this is going to end. Towson still has to play JMU and Elon; Maine still has to play Elon; JMU still has to play Rhode Island and Towson; Delaware still has to play Stony Brook and Villanova. Honestly, just wake me up at midnight on November 18 and tell me what leg of the CAA tiebreaker system we're down to.
- Big Sky Showdown. UC Davis at Eastern Washington. Next Saturday. Don't make plans. We're going to find out if the Aggies are for real.
- The Southland is a freaking mess, with a 2008 Big 12 threeway at the top. (Incarnate Word beat McNeese, which beat Nicholls, which beat Incarnate Word.) Are we positive this isn't a one-bid league?
- Princeton would have to lose to both Penn and Yale in the final two weeks of the regular season to blow this Ivy League lead. I don't see that happening. Crown 'em.
COMMITTEE RANKINGS CENTRAL: Brian's Take | Analysis of Wednesday's Top 10
MORE FCS: How Big is This JSU-Kennesaw Game?