We’ve been away awhile, eh? My other “job” has really made trying to do this all by myself untenable, and I’m terribly sorry to the 6 of you who’d been reading this blog regularly. But I can still pop in now and again, and for the next couple of weeks expect some frequent (albeit brief) activity.

And on that note, here’s a breakdown of the conference title races in FCS with two weeks remaining.

TL;DR version: Eastern Washington, Maine, Princeton, Bethune-Cookman, North Dakota State, Robert Morris (PA), Sacred Heart, Eastern Illinois, Colgate, San Diego, Marist, Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Southeastern Louisiana are all capable of clinching conference titles this week (and in the case of all but Princeton, that means an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs).

Big Sky

Leading the pack: Eastern Washington (8-2/6-0)
Still alive: Northern Arizona (7-2/5-1), Montana State (7-3/5-1), Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (5-5/4-2), Montana (8-2/4-2), Southern Utah (7-3/4-2)

The Big Sky’s tiebreaker procedure for the auto-bid is complex: head-to-head, then record in scheduled conference games against conference opponents in descending order, then record in all games against conference opponents in descending order, then common non-conference opponents, then Sagarin, then a coin flip. You may be scratching your head over tiebreakers two and three there; the 13-team Big Sky plays eight conference games, but some teams play other Big Sky members in games which are deemed non-conference games (mostly to preserve rivalries).

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Eastern Washington: win at Cal Poly this week. Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona did not play this year, and Northern Arizona’s loss is to Montana State, who lost to EWU. Barring a shift in the standings which would pull Cal Poly ahead of Montana State (and such a thing is certainly possible), EWU would hold all tiebreakers. They can absolutely seal the deal by knocking off Cal Poly this week, as that will prevent that possibility altogether.

Big South

Leading the Pack: Charleston Southern (10-1/3-0)
Still alive: Liberty (6-4/3-1), Coastal Carolina (9-1/3-1)

The Big South is at it again. Coastal Carolina has already beaten Liberty. Charleston Southern has already beaten Coastal Carolina. Should Liberty beat Charleston Southern next week, well… we could be in for fun times.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Nobody can. Wait till next week.


Leading the Pack: Maine (9-1/6-0)
Still alive: Towson (8-2/4-2), Delaware (7-3/4-2), William & Mary (7-3/4-2), New Hampshire (5-4/4-2)

We’re only going to consider the immediate situation here this week, as the potential for Maine to not win the title is so convoluted it would take 1000 words. If Maine loses at home to 3-8 Rhode Island this week, we’ll get back into this, but that’s so unlikely it’s not worth the effort.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Maine: beat Rhode Island.


Leading the Pack: Princeton (7-1/5-0)
Still Alive: Harvard (7-1/4-1), Yale (5-3/3-2), Dartmouth (4-4/3-2), Pennsylvania (4-4/3-2)

Of course, the Ivy doesn’t participate in the FCS playoffs, so there’s no autobid to be won here. There are also no tiebreakers, so things are fairly simple.

In order to win the outright title:
Princeton: Beat Yale at home this week while Harvard loses at home to Penn.

In order to share the title:
Princeton: Beat Yale at home this week.


Leading the Pack: Bethune-Cookman (8-2/5-1)
Still Alive: South Carolina State (7-3/5-1), Delaware State (4-5/4-2), Hampton (4-6/4-2), Morgan State (4-6/4-2), Norfolk State (3-7/3-3)

Yeah, the upper-middle tier of the conference went 0-fer non-conference, but they’re all still scrapping around the heels of the leaders in conference play. Norfolk State is really only listed as a courtesy; they can’t claim the auto-bid but can manage to stumble into a horrible tie for first at 5-3. Bethune-Cookman had a chance to very nearly ice things last week, but inexplicably lost to Norfolk. They can put it away this week, but they’ll need a hand.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Bethune-Cookman: needs to beat Hampton at home while South Carolina State loses, at home, to Morgan State.

Missouri Valley

Leading the Pack: North Dakota State (9-0/6-0)
Still Alive: Youngstown State (8-2/5-1), Missouri State (5-6/5-2)

Missouri State can’t win the autobid, as a three-way tie between the three schools would go to Youngstown State. But the idea of a team which started the season 0-4 managing to claim a share of the Missouri Valley title is just mind-boggling, so it needs to be acknowledged. This week is the titanic showdown to end all titanic showdowns, though…

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
North Dakota State: needs to beat Youngstown State. Simple as pie.


Leading the Pack: Robert Morris (PA) (5-4/3-1)
Still Alive: Sacred Heart (9-2/3-2), Duquesne (5-4/3-2), Saint Francis (PA) (4-5/2-2), Central Connecticut State (4-6/2-2)

What a mess. A lot will get sorted out this week, as two different schools (or neither one!) can clinch depending on how things shake out.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Robert Morris (PA): needs to beat Sacred Heart at home, and needs Duquesne to lose to Central Connecticut State.
Sacred Heart: needs to win at Robert Morris, and needs Saint Francis to lose to Wagner.

Ohio Valley

Leading the Pack: Eastern Illinois (10-0/6-0)
Still Alive: Tennessee State (8-3/5-2), Jacksonville State (9-1/4-2), Eastern Kentucky (6-4/4-2), Tennessee-Martin (6-4/4-2)

This is potentially a mess, but some stuff’s going to have to happen to get there. For now, things are pretty simple this week. No matter what, either Eastern Kentucky or UT-Martin are gone after Saturday, as they play this week.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Eastern Illinois: needs to win at home against Jacksonville State.


Leading the Pack: Colgate (4-6/3-1)
Still Alive: Lafayette (3-6/3-1), Lehigh (7-2/2-1)

A glance at the standings might make you think that Bucknell (4-5/2-2) is still alive, but because of who plays who in the final two weeks that’s not going to happen. Lehigh visits Colgate this week; if Lehigh wins, then the Lehigh-Lafayette winner will finish with only one conference loss. If Colgate wins, well…

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Colgate: needs to win at home against Lehigh.


Leading the Pack: San Diego (7-3/6-1)
Still Alive: Butler (8-3/6-1), Marist (7-3/6-1), Mercer (9-1/5-1)

San Diego has a commanding lead in this discussion for one very pertinent reason: all three of those other one-loss teams suffered their only loss to San Diego, so the only way any of them are winning the conference title — and the conference’s first automatic playoff bid — is if San Diego stumbles. San Diego is not, however, the only team that can clinch on Saturday…

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
San Diego: win at home against 6-4 Drake.
Marist: win at home against Mercer, and San Diego lose to Drake, and Butler loses at 3-7 Morehead State.


Leading the Pack: Tennessee-Chattanooga (8-2/6-1)
Still Alive: Samford (6-4/4-2), Wofford (5-4/4-2), Furman (5-5/4-2)

How weird is it that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, who aren’t actually eligible to win the conference title anyway since they’re in the process of moving to FBS, aren’t even theoretically in the picture? Yeah. It’s really weird. This race could end Saturday, or we could have wild and crazy times next week.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Tennessee-Chattanooga: needs to win at Samford.


Leading the Pack: Southeastern Louisiana (8-2/5-0)
Still Alive: McNeese State (8-2/4-1), Sam Houston State (8-2/4-1)

McNeese has lost to Southeastern, and Sam Houston lost to McNeese. Southeastern hosts Sam Houston this week, so we’ll either have a conference champion or a two- or three-way tie heading into the final weekend.

In order to clinch the autobid this week:
Southeastern Louisiana: needs to beat Sam Houston State at home.


It’s all over except the championship game. Jackson State (7-2/7-0) has won the East, and Southern (6-4/6-2) has clinched the West; they’ll play on December 7 in Houston for the conference title. Remember, the SWAC doesn’t send their champion to the FCS playoffs, so there’s no autobid up for grabs here.