Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - CAA Football might have received the
results it needed as a conference on Saturday.
Then again, the results may have been exactly what the conference didn't want
to happen with only three Saturdays of November action left in the regular
It's hard to tell with the CAA these days, especially as they beat up on each
other in conference play.
New Hampshire and Old Dominion probably solidified FCS playoff spots with
wins, while James Madison stabilized itself with a victory and Towson stayed
alive as it continues to be challenged by one of the toughest schedules in the
But then you look at it the other way and Villanova and Delaware put plenty of
playoff pressure on themselves by losing separate Top 25 matchups.
Maybe Richmond had it right. The Spiders had the weekend off.
It's been easy to pile on the CAA the last two seasons. A year ago, it was
home to only one team that reached the national quarterfinals - Maine, where
it bowed out - after the conference has national champions or runners-up in
seven of the previous eight seasons. This season, there hasn't been a true
But the obituaries are premature. The CAA isn't going away quietly, even if
the Missouri Valley, Big Sky and Southern conferences have closed the gap. And
as good as the Southland and Ohio Valley conferences have been this season,
they are not the CAA.
Keep in mind, five CAA teams made the playoffs last season when only one other
conference had more than two qualifiers (the SoCon with three). This past
week, the CAA had seven ranked teams - an incredible number with November
The southern schools in the CAA really committed to football financially in
the early 2000s and it made a difference with the run, including national
titles by Delaware (2003), James Madison (2004), Richmond (2008) and Villanova
When the CAA is really good, it usually has senior-driven teams - hence all
the national finalists.
The youth across the conference the last two seasons has been a constant
theme. Even this year's conference leader, New Hampshire, as good as it is at
7-2, has some terrific young players and might be a year away from true
The CAA has had terrific quarterbacks with athleticism and big arms through
the years, and usually veteran quarterbacks at that. This season, Old
Dominion's Taylor Heinicke is lights out and Delaware's Trent Hurley is an
emerging star, but they are only sophomores. Villanova's John Robertson,
another breakout player, is only a redshirt freshman.
It hasn't helped the CAA that winless Rhode Island and one-year member Georgia
State have been so bad this season, dragging down the conference's national
At least the CAA is losing Georgia State next year, but it also hurts to have
ODU leaving for the FBS as well. Stony Brook from the Big South and Albany
from the Northeast Conference will be coming in from smaller conferences, but
don't forget they might be arriving off two straight playoff appearances, so
it may not be a bad tradeoff.
CAA teams will continue to knock each other off in conference play - the work
of parity - but come out with a 7-4 record or better and that often means a
The CAA looks good for three or four playoff bids next month. Every other FCS
conference would accept that and feel it's not in a downward cycle.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
A recap of games in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at
STOCK RISING, STOCK FALLING
Rising: With Eastern Washington falling on Saturday, No. 2 Georgia Southern is
primed to move up to No. 1 on Monday. The Eagles have suffered only a two-
point, last-minute loss to The Citadel, winning six straight games since then.
After a 39-31 triple overtime win at Chattanooga, the Eagles need only a win
over Appalachian State or a Wofford loss in one of its final two final
conference games to lock up the Southern Conference's automatic bid to the FCS
Falling: Is it possible Eastern Kentucky could finish 8-3 and miss the FCS
playoffs? The preseason favorite is 6-3 and trails Tennessee State, Eastern
Illinois and UT Martin in the conference race, having lost to Tennessee State
and EIU but beaten UT Martin. The Colonels wrap up the regular season by
visiting Southeast Missouri State next Saturday and hosting Murray State on
Nov. 10. The OVC probably won't get more than two playoff teams.
Lehigh (8-0) is the FCS' lone unbeaten team following Cal Poly's 35-29 loss to
Sacramento State. While the Mountain Hawks were idle on Saturday, Colgate
moved past them atop the Patriot League standings.
The are three remaining winless teams: Austin Peay, Rhode Island and
Valparaiso, all 0-8.
AROUND THE NATION
Big Sky: After his No. 1-ranked Eastern Washington Eagles fell at Southern
Utah, coach Beau Baldwin said, "We have to clean up some of the little things
that got us today." ... First-place Northern Arizona's seven-game win streak
is its first in-season since the Lumberjacks won 11 straight in the 1958
season en route to the NAIA championship game ... A healthier Cody Kirk makes
all the difference for Montana State. The Bobcats rolled past North Dakota,
55-10, as Kirk rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns, and Orenzo Davis
added 145 yards and two touchdowns ... After falling at Montana, 70-24, Idaho
State (1-7) has given up at least 52 points in six straight losses ... Ian
Sluss collected two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in Portland
State's 49-21 win over UC Davis.
Big South: Costal Carolina returned to the .500 mark and stopped Liberty's 17-
game winning streak in the month of October, 36-12. The Chanticleers (4-4,
2-1) picked off three Josh Woodrum passes, including LaDarius Hawthorne's 66-
yard return for a touchdown. Speaking of interceptions - or lack of them -
Coastal Carolina's Aramis Hillary has thrown a school-record 180 consecutive
pass attempts without a pick. However, he was carted off with an injury in the
win ... Charleston Southern is 4-4 after going 0-11 last season. As they chase
a winning record, the Buccaneers end their season by visiting Liberty, hosting
Garder-Webb and visiting Coastal Carolina.
CAA Football: Matt Evans, with 427 career tackles, is seven shy of Steve
Doig's school record (434, 1978-81) ... James Madison's new starting
quarterback, true freshman Michael Birdsong, was only 11-of-23 for 119 yards
and a touchdown with one interception in Saturday's 28-21 escape against
Ivy: Princeton (4-3, 3-1) gave up sole possession of first place by falling at
Cornell, 37-35. Big Red quarterback Jeff Mathews threw for 525 yards and four
touchdowns, and John Wells kicked a game-winning 23-yard field goal with 50
seconds left ... Harvard (6-1, 3-1) moved back into first place alongside
Princeton with a 31-14 win at Dartmouth ... Great drama for Penn: Sophomore
kicker Connor Loftus connected on two field goals in the final 1:25 of play -
the first from a career-long 45 yards to tie the game, the second from 30
yards out with 17 seconds left - to beat Brown, 20-17, on Homecoming Day.
MEAC: Just like Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman (6-2, 5-0) has a green light
toward the conference title after it beat North Carolina Central, 42-17.
Jackson had a 93-yard touchdown rush and finished with 158 yards and two
touchdowns on 14 carries ... Delaware State quarterback Nick Elko seems to
get better every game. He completed 33-of-43 pass attempts for a career-high
398 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets' 28-23 win over Morgan State. They
are 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the MEAC.
Missouri Valley: In Indiana State's 45-14 win over South Dakota, senior
defensive back Johnny Towalid set a new school record with the third
interception return for a touchdown this season as well as a new school-record
fourth of his career ... Missouri State (3-6) has its first three-game winning
streak in eight years after a 32-3 rout of Western Illinois. Kierra Harris
threw for three touchdowns and ran for another ... Defending FCS champion
North Dakota State possessed the ball more than twice as long as Southern
Illinois in its 23-17 win - 40 minutes, 48 seconds to 19:12 ... Gutty effort
by Illinois State (7-2, 4-2) as it went to Northern Iowa and posted a 33-21
victory. The Redbirds may still need to beat either Indiana State or Illinois
State to reach the playoffs.
Northeast: Monmouth's Julian Hayes was a workhorse, carrying the ball 36 times
for a season-high 158 yards as well as two touchdowns while the Hawks stopped
Duquesne's 10-game home winning streak, 28-27. Larry McCoy became Duquesne's
all-time leading rusher, finishing the game with 4,308 yards ... Few players
are as hot as Central Connecticut State sophomore Rob Hollomon, who collected
207 rushing yards, 307 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in a 32-30
victory over Saint Francis (Pa.). Hollomon totaled 377 all-purpose yards
against Robert Morris last weekend ... Wagner (5-3, 5-1) made it five straight
wins by defeating Robert Morris, 23-13. Quarterback Nick Doscher threw for 228
yards and ran for a touchdown.
Ohio Valley: You can't say enough about the top half of the conference race.
Tennessee State (8-1), UT Martin (6-2) and Eastern Illinois (5-3) are all 4-1
in conference play, and Eastern Kentucky (6-3) and Jacksonville State (5-3)
are both 4-2 ... Murray State senior quarterback Casey Brockman became the
Ohio Valley Conference's career passing yardage leader in a 38-35 loss to
Jacksonville State. He has thrown for 9,090 yards in his career.
Patriot: Surging Colgate (5-3, 3-0) has scored at least 47 points in its last
four games, the latest a 47-33 win over Bucknell. Quarterback Gavin McCarney
collected 284 total yards and four touchdowns (three rushing, one passes), and
running back Jordan McCord rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns ...
Lafayette fell from first place by committing seven turnovers in a 20-17 loss
to Georgetown ... Carlton Koonce rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns and
Ryan Higgins passed for 407 yards and a touchdown as Fordham topped Holy
Cross, 36-32, to improve to 5-3. A year ago, the Rams finished with a 1-10
Pioneer: The Heeter is on. Trae Heeter gained 256 total yards and rushed for
two touchdowns as Butler (7-2, 6-0) held off Davidson, 31-20, and took a half-
game lead on idle Drake in the title race ... San Diego's Mason Mill threw for
511 yards, including 246 to Sam Hoekstra, and four touchdowns in a 41-9
pounding of Dayton. The Toreros have won three straight games by a combined
109-16 ... Morehead State's Zach Lewis threw for 339 yards and five touchdowns
in a 70-28 rout of Campbell.
SoCon: What an amazing effort by Appalachian State's Logan Hallock. The
sophomore quarterback came off the bench to replace an injured Jamal Jackson
and completed the first 20 pass attempts of his career for 230 yards and two
touchdowns in a 38-27 win over Western Carolina. Jackson was cleared to return
to action by ASU's medical staff, but the coaching staff elected to keep him
off the field for the remainder of the game ... Elon fell to Furman, 31-17,
but Phoenix wide receiver Aaron Mellette caught two touchdowns to give himself
six straight games with at least of a pair of TD receptions.
Southland: Central Arkansas (7-2, 5-1) will clinch the conference's auto-bid
with a win over Northwestern State next Saturday. The Bears have yet to lose
the last two seasons on their gray and purple turf ... McNeese State basically
took Stephen F. Austin out of the playoff picture with a 35-24 victory. Cody
Stroud was efficient under center, throwing three touchdown passes ... Doesn't
it feel like Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders can turn it on
whenever he wants to? He rushed 16 times for 131 yards and four touchdowns in
the Bearkats' 56-7 rout of Lamar.
SWAC: Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-2, 5-1) can only be caught by Prairie View A&M
(3-5, 3-3) in the West Division race, but the Golden Lions took a big step
toward winning the title with a 10-0 win over Mississippi Valley State -
their first shutout since 2008 ... Prairie View quarterback De'Auntry Smiley
had an incredible game in a 49-29 win over Southern. He completed 29-of-38
attempts for 398 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 170 yards and a
touchdown on 14 carries ... The biggest crowd of the FCS season (58,201)
watched Alabama State knock off rival Alabama A&M in the 71st annual Magic
City Classic. ASU's Greg Jenkins passed for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and
Isaiah Crowell rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
A LOOK AHEAD
There are plenty of intriguing matchups next Saturday, led by Appalachian
State at Georgia Southern in the Southern Conference. The visiting
Mountaineers are likely one win away from clinching a playoff berth, while GSU
is trying to clinch a second straight conference title.
Other key conference matchups: Big Sky, Montana State at Sacramento State and
Cal Poly at Eastern Washington (the game doesn't count toward the conference
standings); CAA, Towson at Delaware; Ivy, Penn at Princeton; MEAC, Bethune-
Cookman at Morgan State and Delaware State at North Carolina Central; Missouri
Valley, Illinois State at Indiana State and South Dakota State at Southern
Illinois; and NEC, Wagner at Albany.
Also: OVC, Tennessee State at Murray State and Jacksonville State at UT
Martin; Patriot, Lafayette at Colgate; Pioneer, Jacksonville at Butler and
Drake at Dayton; SoCon, Wofford at Samford; and Southland, Southeastern
Louisiana at Sam Houston State.
The Sports Network