Football

2018 FCS Playoffs First Round Thoughts

2018 FCS Playoffs First Round Thoughts

The field of 24 is now down to sixteen after eight first round games that produced few surprises Saturday.

The biggest surprise was offered by Duquesne University, the Northeast Conference champions, who hammered Towson, 31-10. The Dukes picked up their first FCS Playoff win in school history, led by AJ Hines, who racked up 175 yards on the ground and added a 71 yard reception in the rout of the Tigers. Duquesne now earns a second round date in Brookings with South Dakota State next Saturday. The Dukes opened the 2017 season there and lost, 51-13.

It was a great day for the Ohio Valley Conference, long picked on in this space as a league that has failed in the postseason, picked up two wins yesterday. Southeast Missouri State scored 21 points off of Stony Brook turnovers as the Redhawks moved into the 2nd round and will meet up with Weber State. Jacksonville State trailed 20-10 to East Tennessee State, but rattled off 24 straight points, including a pick six to pull past the Bucs 34-27. The Gamecocks now head to Maine for what should be a really interesting second round game.

Northern Iowa had no business winning against Lamar, Eli Dunne completed just eight passes, but benefited from the Cardinals missing two field goals and fumbling twice as the Panthers move on and head west to face UC Davis. This resembles 2015 for UNI, a home first round win, then a date in the 2nd round with a Big Sky seeded team. Portland State fell to the Panthers that year, we’ll see what happens on Saturday.

James Madison moved on to the second round with a 20-6 win over Delaware, in a game where the Dukes ran for only 93 yards on 46 times. Ben DiNucci completed 23 of 31 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown, but this was not an impressive performance. Delaware mustered no serious offensive threat in the entire game. We’ll see how Colgate matches up with its second toughest opponent of the season, the Raiders lost to Army in its season finale.

Finally, a word on the CAA. It was a brutal day for the league, posting a 1-4 record, with the only win coming against another league opponent. This should send a clear message to the FCS Playoff Committee going forward. First, if you are considering putting six teams in, make sure they are six worthy candidates. Indiana State and Monmouth in my opinion could have won two or three of those games yesterday. Second, if you do put that many teams in the field, spread them out. Four of the six were put in the top half, and with yesterday’s bloodbath, only James Madison remains in the top half, with Maine in the bottom. Hopefully these are lessons that future members of the committee will take seriously, because this was a bad look for the division as a whole.

LEAGUE RECORDS:

  • Ohio Valley: 2-0
  • Northeast: 1-0
  • Missouri Valley: 1-0
  • Colonial: 1-4
  • Southland: 1-2
  • Pioneer: 0-1
  • Patriot: 0-0
  • Big Sky: 1-0
  • SoCon: 1-1
  • Big South: 0-0

Reminder, our Sunday Night Live Chat returns tonight at 9. We’ll discuss this weekend’s game, look ahead to NDSU-Montana State and the coaching carousel is underway.

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