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Playoffs: Week 5 Predictions
Scott Monson – Is Missouri St for real? They are 3-1 and beat ISUr this past week.
Chase: I kind of think they are, yeah. We talked about it on the pod this week, so I'll let that segment stand for itself, but they have a methodical offense and good defense/special teams. Are they going to beat NDSU/SDSU? Probably not, but that's a quality team that gives the Valley some additional depth we weren't expecting.
Sam: I'm going to wait a couple more weeks to decide how good this Mo State team is. One win is a non-counter. No. 20 NAU was a shell of itself. And No. 9 Illinois State was coming off an FBS win and probably overlooking the Bears. Now that this team has everyone's attention, we'll see what it can do. Games at South Dakota this weekend and versus Western Illinois in two weeks is going to tell us a lot.
Christopher Emil Johnson – Is Rhode Island worthy of a top ten spot?
Chase: Yeah, I'm not willing to go there just yet. Rhode Island is my favorite story of the year, but top 10 seems a little high. The Rams haven't beaten anyone currently in the top 25, so let's hold off on the major christening for now.
Preston Adams – SHSU won. Yay. So, how many bids is the Southland looking at this year? I would personally go with 2, max.
Brian: I think you could see a 9-win Sam Houston State team get in, which means the Bearkats must not slip up again. I don't think an 8-win Sam Houston team gets in though — unless the rest of the country just falls apart and it happens by default. I think you're looking at a seeded McNeese team at 10-1, a solid at-large Nicholls team at 9-2 and a Sam Houston State team that's going to have to see what happens around the country to assure itself a spot, plus it needs to win out. I think the SoCon being weaker — collectively — than we thought in the preseason could help the Southland, and the OVC seems destined for only one bid, the auto bid. All of this helps.
Chase: I think it's two. Sam Houston is likely to go 9-2 and get left out, in my opinion. I think if this year's potentially 9-2 Sam Houston team played last year's 9-2 McNeese team that got left out of the playoffs, McNeese would win.
Sam: My opinion? The Southland should only get two teams in. Last year didn't do the conference any favors with Nicholls losing in the first round and fourth-seeded Central Arkansas losing right away in the second round. SHSU carried the Southland with a semifinal appearance. My prediction? The Southland is going to get three teams in. McNeese and Nicholls are basically locks to make the bracket unless they suffer a big upset. So the third-place team in the conference is probably going to be the Bearkats. SHSU inserted a new quarterback, Ty Brock, into the UCA game and looked like its offense of old. Watch this team roll through weak opponents and put up big numbers and the playoff committee will reward the Bearkats with an at-large bid.
Darrin Fontana – What do you think of SB QB, Joe Carbone in their win against V?
Chase: I was impressed. I thought he showed nice touch and executed the Seawolves' offensive game plan really well. Joe Carbone is a solid, veteran guy that CAA fans know can keep Stony Brook playing at a high level. I think the questions coming into this year were more about the other offensive pieces around him — the Pass Pro abilities of the offensive line and the wide receivers. So far, Stony Brook has come to play, and it's given them an inside track in the CAA race.
Don Earman – Are NDSU and JMU beatable? Are they going to play in Frisco again?
Brian: I wouldn't count on either one of them losing, on paper, but they both do have potential landmines — and NDSU has more than one. Those road trips must not be overlooked, I don't care how good NDSU is. Just ask Illinois State. Could they end up facing each other in Frisco again? Absolutely they could.
Chase: Until someone shows me that one of these teams is vulnerable, it feels like we're on a rematch collision course.
Sam: I don't see anyone touching JMU this regular season. And while the Bison are probably going to lose somewhere down the line, a 10-1 NDSU squad is going to get a Top 2 seed. Like we saw last year, anything can happen in the playoffs (Weber State). But with these two teams having home-field advantage, it's going to be so tough to knock them off. Yes, SDSU played the Bison tough and should be in the discussion. But in my experience covering this NDSU team, it often has close wins (YSU last year) that make people think they're beatable in the postseason. Then the Bison roll to Frisco. As of right now, and while I do see some teams competing better this year with the two in the playoffs (KSU, SDSU, EWU), I still don't see any teams standing in their way to disrupt a rematch we all expect to happen.
Adam Willey – What is going on with Maine?
Chase: For one thing, the Black Bears aren't healthy right now. The opening foray was great, but two September games against FBS competition, compounded by some bad luck, is how you beat up your starting lineup. Last I checked, Maine's injury list includes stud DB Manny Patterson, DT Alejandro Oregon, RB Ramon Jefferson, a couple of offensive linemen, and one or two other pieces. Some of those kids could be back for Villanova this weekend, and Maine fans should hope they are — Villanova is 0-2 in conference play and desperate for a win. The Cats will likely give Maine everything they've got.
Lawrence Smith – Rank the FCS conferences 1-5 based on the results thus far in 2018.
Brian: Lawrence, I'd go 1) CAA (by a hair); 2) MVFC; 3) Big Sky; 4) SoCon; 5) Southland. I think collectively the CAA is a tad better than the Missouri Valley, at least at this point. I think the SoCon is better than the Southland, but the Southland may end up with 3 playoff teams and SoCon 2 because the SoCon just appears to be hellbent on chopping itself to pieces this year.
Chase: CAA, Valley, Big Sky, Ivy, SoCon.
Sam: CAA, Valley, Big Sky, SoCon, Ivy. Really you can argue either way for 1 and 2. In my opinion, I'd take the Top 3 teams in the Valley over the CAA. But top to bottom, I think the CAA has the edge. The Big Sky is catching up. After that, it's a big dropoff.
Chris Hammond – What would Montana's record look like if Gresch Jensen was still the starting QB? The same, better or worse?
Sam: This is nearly an impossible question to answer, but I do think it's a fair one. I wrote something earlier this week on how there was some panic from Montana fans when last year's freshman All-American QB Jensen transferred. But Sneed has taken over just fine and then some. With the running backs struggling to get going, Sneed's ability to run has been the difference. But to answer your question, I think Montana would still be 4-1 with Jensen starting. However, I believe Sneed fits the new offensive system better overall, which was noticeable in spring ball during the QB battle.
Frank A. Alvarez – Are the UIW Cardinals legit? Could they beat one of the Southland Conference giants?
Brian: You know, UIW is an interesting team to watch. And I think their next two games are winnable. The only problem is, the Cardinals will have played three FBS opponents by the time the season is up, and they face a gauntlet to close out Southland play with McNeese, Nicholls, Sam Houston and Central Arkansas, and I just can't see Incarnate Word beating those four teams. But I'll tell you this, this program didn't schedule any cream puffs out of conference and unlike some of the front-runners of the conference, UIW plays every … single … one of the powerhouses. UIW may not finish with a winning record, but it certainly challenged itself and don't forget — freshman QB Jon Copeland is one of the top rookies in the FCS this year, and he has three years left. Oh, and the entire offensive line are underclassmen.
Christopher Emil Johnson – Ooh, also where does ETSU belong in the rankings, surely a top 25 spot right?
Brian: I think with another win this weekend, you'll see ETSU be mentioned as a legit Top 25 program. I know in my Playoff Bracket predictor, I have them in (barely) at this point, but my playoff outlook doesn't have Ivy League teams and HBCUs obviously because they don't do the playoffs, so that gives a tad bit more room to squeeze ETSU in as an at-large possibility. I just think voters want to see a tad bit more from the Bucs. Beating non-FCS Mars Hill and two SoCon teams that have combined to start 1-8 — and by a combined 5 points — is what makes people wonder. The Chattanooga win was eye-opening though, the Bucs just need more of those.
Chase: They'd probably be in my RV category. The Bucs are in first place for now, and the rivalry win over the Mocs looks nice, but they've really struggled to beat teams I don't think are very good. This still feels like a team that caps out around 6-5. Maybe a weak 7-4. That's not top 25 for me, but we could talk about top 40.
Paul Alexander Dobson – What's going on with UNH? I know they've had injuries but with so many returning starters, I'm beyond shocked they're 0-4.
Chase: We talked about this a little in the offseason. Trevor Knight and Neil O'Connor are awesome, but the offensive line has been outright bad for a couple of years now, and the defense is inconsistent. Trevor going down early has clearly sapped this team of any offensive momentum it has. Now, at 0-4, the team just looks listless. It's probably a lost year for UNH. That being said, they will definitely jump up and beat someone they shouldn't before the end of the season.
Cory Clark – Other than a loss by NDSU what would you have to see to move JMU to #1?
Chase: Probably multiple weeks of sustained, inexplicable mediocrity or apathy. I'm trying to be fair to the question here, but honestly, I can't really imagine a scenario where NDSU doesn't lose and I drop them. The Bison are too talented and too focused.
Sam: If NDSU stays undefeated but its margin of wins is only 7-10 points every game, and JMU keeps on winning by 20+ points, then I think you have to at least consider moving the Dukes to No. 1. But it's so tough to accurately watch the two teams from afar and look at the scores and make a determination on who's better with no common opponents. Even the common opponents comparison can be deceiving (SDSU beating NDSU last year then JMU dismantling SDSU in the semis). So in the end, an undefeated Bison team coming off a national championship is still going to be the No. 1 team in my book.