10 takeaways from Week 11
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By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - It wasn't the wildest week of the FCS season, but Week 11 was the weirdest.
A bunch of results on Saturday didn't make sense, it was the fifth straight week with at least three Top 10 teams falling and conference races were thrown off track.
The postseason is calling, and the lead-in has been terrific.
Here are 10 takeaways from Week 11 of the FCS season:
- Dartmouth's Hail Mary that was answered at Harvard last weekend suggests the No. 13 Big Green may be a team of destiny. In the STATS FCS Game of the Week, coach Buddy Teevens' squad beat No. 10 Princeton 27-10 to improve to 8-0 and end the Tigers' 17-game winning streak. Jared Gerbino, who was knocked out of the Harvard game with a leg injury, returned to the lineup to rush for a game-high 97 yards and two touchdowns. The 10 points allowed matched the Big Green's season average - the low among FCS teams.
- Robert Morris' amazing season in the Northeast Conference continued with a 41-21 victory over preseason favorite Duquesne. Freshman quarterback George Martin had a touchdown pass and run and the Colonials (6-4, 5-0) forced seven turnovers, including Mason Gray with 36- and 81-yard interception returns for TDs. The Colonials entered coach Bernard Clark's second season with a 14-game NEC losing streak, but they're set for a first-place showdown at No. 20 Central Connecticut State (9-1, 5-0). With an upset win, RMU would clinch the NEC's automatic bid to the playoffs.
- If the playoffs began today, Lafayette would represent the Patriot League with a 3-7 record. Freshman quarterback Keegan Shoemaker had two touchdown passes and the Leopards forced five turnovers in a 23-20 surprise at Holy Cross. They're both 3-1 and tied atop the standings with Lafayette holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, of course. Lehigh could have passed them both by beating a one-win Bucknell squad, but the Mountain Hawks fell 20-10. The title race is far from over.
- The craziest results were in the MEAC, where co-leaders Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T lost on the road to Delaware State and Morgan State, respectively - two teams that both began the day 1-8. South Carolina State improved to 4-2 in the conference and moved into a first-place tie with N.C. A&T and Bethune, who play each other next Saturday. Florida A&M (8-1, 6-0) is ineligible for the conference title and the Celebration Bowl bid due to NCAA APR penalties, but it is two wins away from finishing unbeaten against conference foes for the first time since going 7-0 in 1996.
- Three conference leaders is great, but the Southland has decided it will try four with Central Arkansas, Nicholls, Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana all 5-2 in conference. Southeastern's 34-0 road win over No. 7 Central Arkansas was as eye-catching as any result of the season. Quarterback Cole Kelley came off the bench to rush for four touchdowns and throw for one. Out of the four leaders, Sam Houston has the easiest path to the Southland title, hosting Northwestern State and Houston Baptist, who both are in the bottom tier of teams.
- New Hampshire was No. 10 in the FCS selection committee rankings this past Wednesday. If the playoffs began today, would the Wildcats have dropped from that spot to outside the field following a 54-16 loss to No. 2 James Madison, which clinched at least a share of its fourth CAA title in the last five seasons? It's an interesting question because one week after the CAA put a lot of playoff resumes on alert, the power conference got some much-desired results. JMU (9-1) would be in the 24-team field and Villanova (7-3) and Towson (6-4) likely as well. Albany (6-4) might be ahead of UNH (5-4) at the moment, but those two meet in a playoff eliminator next Saturday. With a win, UNH would then have to get past streaking Maine (5-5), the defending champ that is trying to get to 7-5 and possibly in the field considering two of its losses are to FBS opponents.
- Don't give away the SWAC divisional titles just yet. An Alcorn State win over Grambling State would have gone a long way to setting up a rematch of the 2018 SWAC championship game between Alcorn and Southern, but Grambling handed the Braves a 19-16 overtime loss - their first in conference play. Miguel Mendez's 45-yard field goal in overtime - a distance you don't see often after regulation - was the difference. Alabama A&M travels to Alcorn State next Saturday with a chance to grab first place in the East, while Grambling goes to Mississippi Valley State needing a win to set up a West Division title battle with Southern in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 30.
- After opening the season with surprising losses to South Carolina State and Samford, Wofford has done well to respond with six straight FCS wins, but the Terriers (6-3, 5-1) still must get through a tough finish to their Southern Conference schedule - should they want to be in the playoffs. Coach Josh Conklin's squad will host Furman (7-3, 6-1) with first place on the line next Saturday and then travel to The Citadel (6-4, 4-2), which is alive in the conference race but needs the Terriers to beat Furman. Option quarterback Joe Newman has been playing at a high level during the hot streak.
- They're still streaking. Top-ranked North Dakota State (10-0) pounded Western Illinois 57-21 to push its winning streak to 31, just two shy of tying its FCS record from 2012-14. The two-time defending FCS champ ends the regular season by hosting South Dakota and visiting Southern Illinois. San Diego's 51-7 waltz past Stetson was its 35th straight win in the Pioneer Football League, moving the Toreros within one of matching Jacksonville State's 2013-18 squads for the second-longest FCS conference streak behind Duquesne's 39 in a row in the MAAC from 1999-2006. The Toreros will host Morehead State before wrapping up the regular season at Jacksonville.
- With quarterback injuries creeping up at a handful of Top 25 teams, No. 6 Montana needed to get Dalton Sneed back in the lineup after he missed 2½ games with an ankle injury. The Griz were down 10-0 in the second quarter against rival Idaho, but Sneed came off the bench to direct a 42-17 victory. Montana is tied with No. 8 Sacramento State for second place in the Big Sky and the Hornets are anxious to get starting signal caller Kevin Thomson back from injury, but Jake Dunniway (384 yards and four touchdowns passing) held his own as they rallied past Northern Arizona 38-34. Both teams trail No. 3 Weber State (8-2, 6-0) by one game, and Montana gets its shot at the Wildcats next Saturday.
Updated November 9, 2019