Week 12 CAA FCS Football Game Breakdowns

George Hammond

Week 11 Colonial Athletic Association Game Breakdowns

Would you believe a five-way share for the CAA title? It could happen if No. 20 Towson knocks off No. 7 New Hampshire on Saturday.  Since No. 4 Old Dominion (9-1, 6-1) is not eligible for the league crown (because of its pending move to Conference USA), a five-team tie is possible thanks to No. 15 Villanova’s huge win over No. 11 James Madison on Saturday.

Here’s the way it shakes out:

* Even if ODU loses at James Madison (7-3, 5-2) on Saturday night, the Monarchs should get an at-large berth in the 20-team FCS playoffs.

* If New Hampshire (8-2, 6-1) beats Towson (6-4, 5-2), the Wildcats are sole champions of the league and earn the CAA’s automatic playoff bid.

* But if New Hampshire loses, and JMU, No. 24 Richmond (7-3, 5-2) and Villanova (7-3, 5-2) win, there’s a five-way logjam at the top. Richmond, which finishes at William & Mary, and Villanova, which travels to Delaware on Saturday, will be favorites in their respective games.

“I’m not in control of any of that stuff. We’re just going to go do as good as we can do,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose told The Baltimore Sun after the Tigers stayed in the hunt with a 41-10 triumph over winless Rhode Island on Saturday. “Going into New Hampshire at the end of November is a very difficult thing to do. It’s going to be a war, and our guys will prepare for it. We’ll just see what happens.”

Because of unexpected results in other conferences this weekend, it’s possible the CAA could be limited to three – maybe even two spots - when the playoff pairings are announced on Sunday. Last year, the league received five spots, but that won’t happen this season.  The craziness was made possible when Villanova stunned James Madison 35-20 on Saturday. “Defensively, it was just a great endeavor by our kids,” Villanova coach Andy Talley told the Delaware County (Pa.) Times. “I think these guys up front did a really good job against a big physical offensive line.” The Wildcats led 33-7 in the third quarter and dominated the contest. They outgained JMU in yardage, 455-231, and controlled the clock for 37:51.

The CAA tie-breaking procedure could get very interesting. Here are the highlights:

1. New Hampshire clinches automatic bid with a victory over Towson.

2. There are 16 scenarios to be used if New Hampshire loses to Towson.

3. CAA football's final tiebreaker involves the application of Jeff Sagarin's ELO...CHESS variance. Sagarin's rankings will not be released until after all Division I football games have gone final on Saturday (approximately 1 a.m. ET, Sunday. The selection committee requires an automatic bid designation prior to Sunday, forcing the league to use the Nov. 11 ELO...CHESS variance.

This could be very tricky.

This week’s games:


#20 TOWSON at #7 NEW HAMPSHIRE (Noon Saturday at Cowell Stadium, Durham, NH)

Much is at stake for both teams. If Towson loses, it’s done as far as a playoff berth is concerned.  New Hampshire is in likely either way, but the Wildcats would love to have the CAA title to themselves. Plus, a victory should secure them a home playoff game and a likely bye. Last year’s game was a wild shootout, and it’s likely Saturday’s game could take on the same scenario. Towson won 56-42 in Baltimore last year for its first victory against New Hampshire in eight tries. Towson running back Terrance West had 261 yards on 23 carries and four touchdowns so there won’t be any surprises as to what Towson will try to do against the Wildcats’ defense. New Hampshire is coming off a bye while the Tigers had an easy time with winless Rhode Island. They won’t admit it, but the Wildcats were aided by a favorable league schedule this season in which they didn’t face James Madison or Villanova.

Projected score: Towson 38, New Hampshire 35


#15 VILLANOVA at DELAWARE (3:30 p.m. Saturday at Delaware Stadium)

The Blue Hens (5-5, 2-5) will try to end Villanova’s hopes for a share of the league crown in this rivalry game. Although the Hens won last year, Villanova has had the upper hand in recent years, winning the previous five meetings before 2011. Overall, Villanova holds a 23-21-1 series edge. On Saturday, Delaware fell behind Richmond 17-0 before eventually losing 23-17. If the Hens lose to Villanova, it would be only their ninth losing season in 70 years, but their third in the last seven. Meanwhile, the Wildcats dominated James Madison in a contest that wasn’t as close as the score. Running back Kevin Monangai became the fourth player in school history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season, but there was  bad news concerning quarterback John Robertson. A key factor in the Wildcats’ success, Robertson was shaken up in the third quarter and had to leave the game. His status is uncertain for the Delaware game.

Projected score: Villanova 24, Delaware 16


#24 RICHMOND at WILLIAM & MARY (1:30 p.m. Saturday at Zable Stadium, Williamsburg, VA)

It’s a must-win game for the Spiders if they want to have any chance to extend their season. Richmond jumped out to a 17-0 advantage against Delaware on Saturday before holding off a Blue Hen rally. Meanwhile, the hard-luck Tribe (2-8, 1-6) battled Old Dominion on equal footing before bowing 41-31.  William & Mary, which led 28-27 at halftime, has lost six games by a grand total of 21 points. A bright spot for the Tribe, however, was the play of junior quarterback Michael Graham, who threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns. Expect the Tribe to give Richmond all it can handle.

Projected score: Richmond 24, William & Mary 23


#4 OLD DOMINION at #11 JAMES MADISON (7 p.m. Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA)

When the CAA schedule came out, many observers thought this could be the biggest game of the year. It’s still a big one, but the Towson-New Hampshire contest has surpassed it now. Still, the JMU-ODU contest has a lot on the line: playoff positioning, in-state bragging rights, and for JMU, the Dukes need it to have any chance of making the playoffs. It will be the Monarchs’ high-powered offense led by quarterback Taylor Heinicke against the Dukes’ stellar defense. Villanova punched some holes in JMU’s defense last week, and it’s difficult to slow Heinicke, but here’s a hunch that JMU will come up big on its home turf. ODU topped James Madison 23-20 last year.

Projected score: James Madison 27, Old Dominion 24


MAINE at RHODE ISLAND (Noon Saturday at Meade Stadium, Kingston, RI)

The Black Bears (4-6, 3-4) will try to even its conference record while the Rams (0-10, 0-7) are just looking for a win. The frustration continued for Rhode Island on Saturday when they lost to Towson. Meanwhile, Maine rolled over Georgia State 51-7.

Projected score: Maine 31, Rhode Island 14


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns