SEEDING REACTION: The top four are in the exact order I had last night, and the 'NDSU being No. 2' argument held up, it would appear. If you win the Valley at 10-1, you deserve a top two seed and homefield throughout December. The only difference here is the committee put Sam Houston State at No. 6. I could maybe see an argument for the Bearkats to have snuck in at No. 8 ahead of my choice, Western Illinois, but I disagree that the Bearkats should be ahead of two automatic bid teams in Wofford and Southern Utah.
The Bearkats' top win now is a blowout victory over a Nicholls team that was a bubble team that got in. It's Richmond win was decent too, but the Spiders finished 6-5. Then there's the Central Arkansas game, which was never really never in doubt. There's no question Sam Houston State should be a playoff team and should have hosted in the first round, but No. 6 is a bit high, in my opinion.[divider]
FIRST ROUND REACTION: The biggest surprises for me here are Monmouth and New Hampshire getting in — and for different reasons. UNH definitely played a challenging schedule, but losing to a 4-7 Patriot League team by 25 points (Holy Cross) and being shutout this weekend by 4-7 Albany probably should have pushed the Wildcats out. To their defense, they did beat an FBS team in Georgia Southern, and they did knock off another playoff team in Elon.
And Monmouth? It did beat a conference champion in Lehigh (5-6), but like UNH it also lost to Albany. (I'm starting to wonder if Albany should be in the playoffs, using this criteria). Nicholls is the third team that surprised me. The loss this week to a 6-5 Southeastern Louisiana team — coupled with the Colonels' blowout loss to Sam Houston State — made me think they were out. In these three teams' place? I would have had Austin Peay, Delaware and Eastern Washington.[divider]
BUBBLE BURST REACTION: As said above, Austin Peay, Delaware and Eastern Washington surprise me as 'out'. Montana would have been in had it won at Montana State this weekend, and Western Carolina would be in if it had beaten Mercer last weekend. Youngstown State and Illinois State needed only one more Valley win and they'd be buzzsaws in the playoffs. Heck, they'd be buzzsaws if they were placed in this week.
Nobody would want to face them. The field is lucky. McNeese's biggest problem is Nicholls beats them out because of that 2-point head-to-head game back in August. Think early games don't matter? Think again. In all, I think the committee only made 2 mistakes out of the 24 teams it put in … I think Delaware and Eastern Washington should definitely be in ahead of New Hampshire and Monmouth. Austin Peay and Nicholls I think were 50/50 for the final spot in the field, and could see arguments for both 8-win teams.
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