College FB picture cloudy; FCS playoffs much clearer
Here we are going into turkey week and there still are half-a-dozen major college football teams who could wear the National Championship logo on their letterman’s jackets.
Things appear much more defined in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision as the 2009 playoff brackets were announced Sunday night and both co-champions of the Southland Conference—Stephen F. Austin and our McNeese State Cowboys—were invited to participate in the 16-team affair that begins Saturday.
And both SLC co-champs will be playing in their respective home stadiums Saturday as McNeese (9-2) entertains New Hampshire (9-2) on Louis Bonnette Field at Cowboy Stadium in Lake Charles at 2 p.m. while SFA (9-2) hosts Eastern Washington (8-3) in Nacogdoches.
This year’s 16 FCS participants are led by undefeated Montana University, which is the tourney’s No. 1 seed with a perfect 11-0 record. Also featured in this year’s bracket are second-seeded Villanova, No. 3 seed Southern Illinois, fourth-seeded Richmond and unseeded South Carolina State, all with 10-1 worksheets.
Other first-round match-ups include South Dakota State (8-3) at Montana (11-0), South Carolina State (10-1) at Appalachian State (9-2), Elon (9-2) at Richmond, Holy Cross (9-2) at Villanova (10-1), Weber State (7-4) at William & Mary (9-2) and Eastern Illinois (8-3) at Southern Illinois (10-1).
If McNeese can beat New Hampshire, the Cowboys will face the winner between Holy Cross and Villanova on Dec. 5. If SFA emerges victorious Saturday over Eastern Washington the Lumberjacks will take on the winner between South Dakota State and top-seeded Montana in the quarterfinal round also on Dec. 5.
The Cowboys lost a heart-breaking 16-13 decision to the SFA Lumberjacks Oct 10 in the opening game of Southland Conference play. The only other team the Cowboys played during the season that is in this year’s FCS tournament is Appalachian State, whom the Pokes upset 40-35 Sept. 12 on the road.
The FCS semifinal round will be played the weekend of Dec. 11-12 with the Championship game slated for Dec. 18 at Chattanooga, TN.
The FCS Playoffs will have plenty of interest in Southeast Texas and Southwestern Louisiana, but the main focus of the nation’s college football fans will be on the two teams that qualify for the BCS national championship game in January.
Being undefeated at this stage of the season does not guarantee a team a shot at that mythical national championship, but it certainly doesn’t hurt a team’s chance either. But with most teams headed into the final week of their respective 2009 college football schedules, those six teams with unblemished records are certainly the front-runners.
The Florida Gators, who are the No. 1 team in both the national football polls and that controversial BCS Poll, seem to have the inside track to play for another national championship. But No. 2 Alabama also is undefeated and is headed for a showdown with the Gators for the Southeastern Conference championship on Dec. 5.
Both of those teams have to play against a hated rival this week with the Gators meeting Florida State and the Crimson Tide taking on state-rival Auburn.
The third-ranked Texas Longhorns may have the smoothest road to the national championship game, but they first must travel to College Station Thursday for a Thanksgiving night game against their fiercest rival—the Texas A&M Aggies. Then, on Dec. 5, the ‘Horns take on Nebraska for the Big 12 Championship.
Another undefeated team from the Lone Star State—the TCU Horned Frogs—also want to be recognized as a possible candidate for the national championship game after rolling over 11 straight opponents this season. Cincinnati and Boise State comprise the other two teams with unblemished records so far this season.
The Horned Frogs still must play New Mexico this week, while Cincinnati has a pair of tough contests remaining against Illinois and then once-beaten Pittsburgh on Dec. 5. Boise State also has games against Nevada and New Mexico State on its 2009 schedule.
Other teams with an outside shot a getting into the National Championship Game are Georgia Tech (10-1) and ranked No. 7 in this week’s BCS Poll, No. 8 Oregon (9-2), No. 9 Pittsburgh (10-1) and No. 10 Ohio State (10-2).
KWICKIES…Most of the Southeast Texas high school teams still alive in the state football playoffs appear to have real difficult opponents in this week’s regional round. Beaumont West Brook (9-3) continues to find ways to win and stay alive in the playoffs and will need it again this week against Katy Cinco Ranch (11-1). Beaumont Central (9-3) has a regional re-match with Friendswood (9-3), the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season.
Kirbyville (10-2) has a re-match with undefeated Arp (12-0) whom the Wildcats beat last year while East Chambers (9-3) meets always-tough Daingerfield (11-1). Newton (11-1) may have the easiest time this weekend against Linden-Kildare (8-4).
For someone who was the offensive coordinator for the highly-successful New England Patriots, Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis sure has a blah offense for his Fighting Irish. By the time this Korner hits the streets, Weis may have joined the ranks of the unemployed because of his uncharacteristic 6-5 record at the South Bend university.
And speaking of blah offenses, our Dallas Cowboys had better be thankful that Head Coach Wade Phillips is a defensive guru, because a team that scored only two touchdowns on it last 23 offensive possessions isn’t going anywhere when playoff time rolls around. Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo had better concentrate on just handing off to his three stellar running backs and forget about passing the football. He throws as wildly as former New York Yankees relief pitcher Ryne Duren did back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.
New England’s brilliant head coach Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-two from his own 30-yard line may not have been as dumb as most armchair quarterbacks give him credit for. He was aware that Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning can score from anywhere on the field in the final two minutes of any game, so his decision told this Korner that he has more confidence in his offense getting two yards and making a first down and killing the clock in the last two minutes than his defense stopping Manning’s drive from 80 yards out after deciding to punt on fourth down.
JUST BETWEEN US…After 10 games of its 16-game schedule, the NFL appears to give a clearer picture as to which teams will probably win the eight divisions with two teams—the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts—still undefeated with 10-0 records. The Saints have a five-game lead over second-place Atlanta in the NFC South Division while Indy leads the AFC South by four games. Minnesota leads the NFC North Division by three games over Green Bay while Arizona enjoys the same three-game advantage over San Francisco. New England has a two-game lead over the surprising Miami Dolphins in the AFC East while our offensively-feeble Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East by a single game over the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. It appears that nobody wants to win the AFC North Division as all four members of that division lost Sunday after blowing fourth-period leads. Cincinnati leads the defending world champion Pittsburgh Steelers by one game.