Welcome to the HERO Sports FCS Mailbag. In partnership with FCS Football Fans Nation, we'll ask for questions with a post on their Facebook page and our senior staff members Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder will provide answers.
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[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
Josh VerStandig – Who are the actual 2nd and 3rd best teams in the CAA
Brian: Oh man, can I just get a Tylenol before answering this question? Just a second … OK, I'm back. Answer? James Madison's second string? The truth is, that's really hard to say. I'd say it's either Towsy Brook, New Hampnova, Villashire, Stonbany, Almond or Richson ("S" pronounced like "Z", like Clemson/Towson). That's about how clear it is at this point. Clear as mud. Our current 4-1 CAA teams both have to play at James Madison in the next two weeks, so chances are they'll both have two losses within the next eight days. There's a very, very real chance every single team outside of JMU has three league losses in the next eight days, too. In fact, book it. So I don't have an answer for that question, Josh. I really don't. The playoff committee seems to think it's New Hampshire (for now) … I tend to lean to Villanova if the Wildcats can rebound and scrap without stud RB Justin Covington. I think the 'Cats have a potential 9-win finish, but they'd still have three league losses (JMU, SB, UNH).
Sam: This a great question, and almost an impossible question with how wild the CAA has been this year. In this week's playoff predictions, which is based on if the season ended today, I had UNH and Villanova in as my second and third teams from the CAA. We'll see if the Wildcats can live up to their No. 10 playoff committee rankings and if Villanova can end its three-game losing streak.
Jamie Williams – Who is a team or two kind of "off the board" who you expect to see in the top 10 to 15 over the next couple years based on the recent recruiting and/or coaching staff?
Brian: I'll throw one out at ya Jamie … Stephen F. Austin. Colby Carthel had to clean house this year and the results on the field have been pretty dismal, but that's not going to last long as he fills this roster up with his own recruits. The Lumberjacks crushed it with the 2019 freshman class … and notice I said "freshman" not "transfer." That's why I think SFA is going to do big things in the Southland Conference in future seasons. Carthel won a national title at the Division II level, and I really like his philosophy on things. He'll have them winning.
Andrew Upton – If Weber beats Montana in two weeks. That will be 3 top 10 wins for Weber. How can the committee justify putting JMU (0 Top 15 wins) ahead of Weber State for the second seed?
Brian: That's going to be a very, very big question, Andrew. It may be a very hard argument. If JMU and Weber State both win out, their FBS losses will be tossed (not that they were damaging results at all … all three of those losses combined were by a total of 19 points). Weber State would stand 10-0 vs. FCS competition with wins over a very seedable Northern Iowa, a very seedable Sacramento State and a potential seed in Montana. You do the math.
Sam: We touched on this quite a bit in our first podcast of this week. Heck, even SDSU would have a better resume than JMU if NDSU, JMU, Weber and SDSU all win out. But I don't see the Dukes going any lower than the No. 3 seed. They've been ranked No. 2 all season and I don't know if they get knocked down after going undefeated against FCS foes. But I do think most would understand if Weber jumped to No. 2. Because, on paper, they would have a better resume. From my perspective, though, my eye tells me JMU is the better team, the more complete team and the more talented team. I think JMU's defense is just as good, if not better than Weber's and I think JMU has the better offense. So how does the committee weigh what's on paper and what they see when they watch games? I guess we will find out.
Matt Petznick – Could the Valley get 5 or even 6 teams in? (Looking at you SIU & YSU)
Brian: Yes, I think five could be the magic number if SIU wins out and gets to 7-4, and the Illinois State/Youngstown State game is a true play-in game and a chance for eight wins (which eight wins in the Valley is a lead-pipe lock). Obviously the other three would be NDSU, SDSU and UNI. And depending on the situation around the country (like if the CAA were to get only three, or "gasp" two in) that could a door for a second seven-win Valley team to get in.
Sam: There are definitely situations where six teams could get in. It's not impossible, but not likely. NDSU is a lock to get in and SDSU/UNI are very likely to hit at least eight wins. So there's three right there. SIU could finish 7-5 with an FBS win and has a decent argument to be in the field. There's four. Now, what happens if Illinois State defeats SDSU on Saturday? I don't think that'll happen, but what if? The Redbirds are going to be in the field because they'd then probably get their eighth win the next week against Missouri State. BUT … what happens if YSU wins its last three games against USD, Indiana State and Illinois State to hit eight wins. You have to put the Penguins in as well, but YSU lost big to SIU, which makes SIU's case even stronger. So who do you leave out in this scenario if the committee doesn't want 6 MVFC teams? What a mess that would be! So it is possible that six teams could make it. But the chances aren't overly high. I'd say 4-5 bids is a safe bet.
Scott Moody – How tenuous is Kennesaw State’s playoff chances with the blowout loss at home to Monmouth last Saturday?
Brian: Well, thanks to the current FCS climate I think if KSU wins out, they'll probably get in with a 10-2 overall record and an 8-1 against the FCS. If the Power Three conferences and others were a little deeper at the top, there's a chance KSU gets left out, but this year? They'll likely get in at 10-2.
Sam: I still have the mindset that if KSU wins out to finish 10-2 overall and 8-1 against the FCS, the committee is going to put them in. The Owls have the win total, the name recognition and the love of people around the country. I mean, they were still ranked ahead of Monmouth in all the major polls. Seriously, how does that happen? I don't think KSU would deserve to be in the field because of zero quality wins, but my guess is we'll see the Owls in the first round.
Joshua Hofman – Game that I should pay attention for this weekend in the FCS?
Brian: I'm going to go with a two-way tie on this — Princeton and Dartmouth are both 7-0 and neither has lost to any other school since 2017. Oh, and they're playing in Yankee Stadium on ESPNU at 3:30 p.m. ET. That one should be quite the battle and will settle the Ivy League. Also … if you dig potential "history-making" FCS battles, try UT Martin at Austin Peay at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+. Austin Peay has never won nine games in a season in school history, but that is still very much on the table for the Govs under first-year magician Mark Hudspeth. And QB Javaughn Craig has been outstanding. APSU is at home hoping to wrap a final three-game stretch with three wins, hit the 9-win mark, capture the Ohio Valley Conference automatic playoff bid … and make a playoff splash. On the flip side, UT Martin is hunting for its first 9-win season since Jason Simpson's first season — 2006. It would also be the Skyhawks' first playoff trip since that year. Whoever wins this game is in the driver's seat the final two weeks and completely controls its own destiny.
Sam: There are a lot of great games this Saturday! I'll just drop this link right here to our predictions article. We go through the top games nationally and how it can impact the playoff picture.
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