FCS Football Week 12 Breakdown

Maine Black Bears FCS College Football Kendall James

FCS Football Week 12 Breakdown

Well, here we are. This is it. This is the last week of the Football Championship Subdivision season. It is the week where playoff hopes are born, where last-chance efforts to qualify are dashed, where the field of 20 teams to move on to the postseason is set in stone. Because there are more games with playoff or title implications, this week I have chosen to forego the top five games and spotlight three true top-25 matchups. There are also shorter looks at nine other games. As of Saturday night, we’ll have a better idea of the FCS playoff teams.


NO. 6 MONTANA AT NO. 1 MONTANA STATE (2:05 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Montana)

The Big Sky Conference hosts the big game of the week with plenty on the line when it comes to postseason play. Montana State (9-1, 7-0) holds a one-game edge over Montana for the Big Sky Conference lead. Should the Bobcats win, they will be Big Sky regular-season champions for the first time since 1984 and earn the automatic bid to the postseason. If Montana (8-2, 6-1) wins the game, the schools share the regular-season title and Montana gets the automatic bid by virtue of the win over Montana State. Both teams had last week off to prepare for this game. Montana defeated Western Oregon 32-7 in their last game, while Montana State knocked off Weber State 44-24. Montana State has the league’s best offense (36.6 points per game) and defense (20.8), but Montana is third in offense and second in defense. This is a game worth watching.


NO. 5 NORTHERN IOWA AT NO. 17 ILLINOIS STATE (Noon Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Illinois)

Illinois State definitely has more to lose in this Missouri Valley Conference showdown than Northern Iowa does. All Northern Iowa (7-5, 6-2) has to do is show up and win this game to guarantee the MVC championship outright. The only team that can tie Northern Iowa is Western Illinois (8-5, 5-3), and Northern Iowa has already beaten WIU this year. Illinois State (6-5, 4-4) is in a six-way tie for third place and can bolster its playoff hopes with a victory here. Illinois State rides a five-game winning streak into this contest, including a 31-7 win last week against Western Illinois. Northern Iowa defeated Southern Utah 34-21 last week, concluding the home portion of its schedule.


NO. 11 MAINE AT NO. 14 NEW HAMPSHIRE (Noon Saturday at Cowell Stadium in Durham, New Hampshire)

The Colonial Athletic Association race is going to be quite interesting right down to the wire. Maine (8-2, 6-1) is tied with Towson for first place in the CAA, a half-game ahead of Old Dominion and one game ahead of New Hampshire (7-3, 5-2). New Hampshire can earn a share of the championship but cannot win the league’s automatic berth, while Maine can win both. Here are the scenarios for Maine. A Black Bears win and a Towson loss gives Maine the outright title and the automatic berth into the playoffs. If Towson wins and Maine loses then Towson wins the title and automatic berth. If both teams win they share the title and Towson gets the automatic bid because Towson beat Maine, and if both teams lose there would be a four-way tie for the title and Towson gets the bid because it has beaten Maine, New Hampshire and Old Dominion. Long story short: Maine and Towson should be in line for playoff spots, whether as an automatic or at-large, and Old Dominion has an outside shot as well.


NO. 8 APPALACHIAN STATE AT ELON (3 p.m. Saturday at Rhodes Stadium in Elon, N.C.)

Our first short preview takes Appalachian State to Elon for a series that the Mountaineers have dominated every year since 1964. Appalachian State hopes that 47-year win streak doesn’t come to an end Saturday, because the Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2) could use the victory to secure second place in the Southern Conference (behind Georgia Southern) and get eight wins for an at-large bid. Appalachian State could still nab one of the 10 at-large bids even if it loses, but the winning scenario is safer.


NO. 9 TOWSON AT RHODE ISLAND (12:30 p.m. Saturday at Meade Stadium in Kingston, Rhode Island)

The playoff scenarios for Towson have already been mentioned, but the Tigers have a fairly decent chance of winning this game. Towson (8-2, 6-1) is four games ahead of Rhode Island (3-7, 2-5) in the standings, and while a Rhody win would sting like crazy it likely wouldn’t kill Towson’s playoff chances. Towson could celebrate a CAA championship and/or playoff berth on Saturday night.


NO. 12 WOFFORD AT CHATTANOOGA (2 p.m. Saturday at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee)

This game has no implications on the Southern Conference title because Wofford can’t catch Georgia Southern. However, Wofford (7-3, 5-2) and Appalachian State are in a second-place tie and in line for possible at-large playoff bids should both schools secure eight victories. Wofford beat Chattanooga 45-14 last year to secure a share of the Southern Conference title, and the fact Chattanooga (5-5, 3-4) is two games behind Wofford this year could be a good sign. Still, Wofford NEEDS this victory.


AUSTIN PEAY AT NO. 15 TENNESSEE TECH (2:30 p.m. Saturday at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville, Tennessee)

Tennessee Tech is in a three-way tie with Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State for the Ohio Valley Conference championship, and Tennessee Tech has beaten both teams. That means if the OVC race ends in a three-way tie, it would be Tennessee Tech earning the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs and a share of its first conference crown since 1975. TTU is coming off a 28-21 win over Eastern Kentucky and is in the driver’s seat for this championship.


NO. 16 DELAWARE AT VILLANOVA (3:30 p.m. Saturday at PP&L Park in Chester, Pennsylvania)

Delaware (6-4, 4-3) is two games behind Maine and Towson in the CAA race and cannot win the title. That said, the Blue Hens could secure seven victories and a possible playoff berth with a win at Villanova. Delaware rides a two-game winning streak into this match, having beaten Towson (35-30) and Richmond (24-10) in the past two weeks.


NO. 17 JACKSONVILLE STATE AT TENNESSEE STATE (2 p.m. Saturday at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee)

Jacksonville State (6-4, 5-2) has a good chance at an at-large bid by virtue of its first-place tie in the Ohio Valley Conference, but Tennessee State (5-5, 4-3) has a good chance to play spoiler. Jacksonville State can claim a share of the OVC title if it wins and likely get into the playoffs, but there is a scenario where Tennessee State could win and go to the postseason. Eastern Kentucky must lose to Tennessee-Martin and Austin Peay must beat Tennessee State for this to happen, however.


NO.21 LIBERTY AT STONY BROOK (3:30 p.m. Saturday at Lavalle Stadium in Stony Brook, New York)

Nothing more dramatic than a one-game playoff to determine the Big South Conference champion and the automatic qualifier for the postseason, is there? Both teams have identical 7-3 records overall and are 5-0 in league play. The winner of this game gets the title and the automatic berth, but will the loser nab an at-large bid? Considering other leagues will clamber for these precious 10 at-large berths, the answer likely could be no.


NO. 23 SOUTH DAKOTA AT NORTH DAKOTA (2 p.m. Saturday at Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota)

The Great West Conference championship is on the line this weekend when South Dakota (6-4, 2-1) travels to North Dakota (7-3, 2-1) for Dakotas bragging rights. Cal-Poly (5-5, 3-1) has completed its GWC season already and beaten both North and South Dakota, so whoever wins this game shares the conference title with Cal Poly.


ALCORN STATE AT NO. 24 JACKSON STATE (2 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi)

On paper this looks like a mismatch and probably will be one. Alcorn State (2-7, 1-7) and Jackson State (8-2, 6-2) are worlds apart in the Southwestern Athletic Conference race, and Jackson State has won three of the last four Capital City Classic games in this rivalry. Keep in mind the SWAC usually doesn’t take part in the postseason tournament at the end of the year, although Jackson State was the last conference team to go in 1997.


Week 12 Football Breakdown Page