In the FCS Huddle: Cinderella hardly stood a chance

Lehigh can still be worked up.

Maybe Eastern Kentucky, too.

Albany? Well, seriously, the Great Danes never stood a chance in a year of the biggest dogs.

The big dog conferences of the FCS.

Cinderella hardly stood a chance in the FCS playoffs, although you have to love the effort Saturday night out of Northeast Conference champion Wagner as it stood toe-to-toe with No. 2-seeded Eastern Washington before falling and how Stony Brook from the Big South made advancing tough on third-seeded Montana State.

But EWU and Montana State are, well, from the Big Sky Conference, and that says a lot this time of the season.

Of the eight teams in next weekend's national quarterfinals, seven are from the four power conferences: the Big Sky with Eastern Washington and Montana State; the Missouri Valley Football Conference with defending national champion North Dakota State and Illinois State; the Southern Conference with Georgia Southern and Wofford; and CAA Football with Old Dominion.

It's not as though the other team, Sam Houston State, is an interloper. The Southland Conference power played in the national title game last season and was ranked No. 1 in the preseason.

The Elite Eight are just that - the best teams.

It's great to think next year's expanded playoff bracket of 24 teams will give more opportunities outside the power conferences, but perhaps the three extra at-large bids should be going to the biggest dogs.


A recap of the second-round playoff games can be found at


Rising: Old Dominion sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke is on the verge of FCS history - again, that is. He has 4,655 passing yards through 12 games and against Georgia Southern next weekend should pass 1994 Walter Payton Award winner Steve McNair of Alcorn State for the single-season record of 4,863 yards.

He also figures to hit the 5,000-yard plateau.

Falling: To lose three straight home playoff games for the first time is bad enough, but it's especially excruciating for Appalachian State that it lost to Illinois State, 38-37, when Sam Martin's extra point attempt was blocked to end overtime.


University of Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove reacted with disbelief Saturday after his former player, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, killed himself at the NFL team's facility, shortly after killing his girlfriend.

According to Kansas City police, the 25-year-old Belcher shot his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, multiple times after the two had been engaged in an argument at home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Minutes after the first shooting, police said, Belcher drove to the Chiefs' training facility at Arrowhead Stadium and spoke with team personnel, including head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, before taking his own life with a gunshot.

Belcher, from West Babylon, N.Y., played at Maine from 2005-08. Cosgrove says Jovan was a "tremendous student-athlete."

He added, "His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams. This is an indescribably horrible tragedy. At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Jovan, Kasandra and their families."

As a senior co-captain in 2008, Belcher was named the CAA Football Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and named to the Preseason All-CAA Team. In 44 career games, he had 293 tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 18 sacks.

He graduated from Maine in December 2008 with a bachelor's degree in child development and family relations.

Belcher was in his fourth year with the Chiefs after signing as an undrafted free agent. He started 10 of the 11 games he played this season, registering 38 tackles.


Jackson State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff will decide the final conference title when they meet for the SWAC championship next weekend in Birmingham, Ala. On Saturday, Pioneer Football League preseason favorite San Diego earned a share of the title with Butler and Drake.

The conference preseason favorite with the actual champion(s):

Big Sky - Preseason: Montana State; Champions: Cal Poly, Eastern Washington and Montana State

Big South - Preseason: Stony Brook; Champions: Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Stony Brook

CAA - Preseason: Towson; Champions: New Hampshire, Richmond, Towson and Villanova

Ivy - Preseason: Harvard; Champion: Penn

MEAC - Preseason: Norfolk State; Champion: Bethune-Cookman

Missouri Valley - Preseason: North Dakota State; Champion: North Dakota State

Northeast - Preseason: Albany; Champions: Albany and Wagner

OVC - Preseason: Eastern Kentucky; Champion: Eastern Illinois

Patriot - Preseason: Lehigh; Champion: Colgate

PFL - Preseason: San Diego; Champions: Butler, Drake and San Diego

Southern - Preseason: Georgia Southern; Champions: Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Wofford

Southland - Preseason: Sam Houston State; Champions: Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State

SWAC - Preseason: Grambling; Champion: Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Jackson State


Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein, Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet have been invited to the announcement of the 26th Walter Payton Award on Dec. 17 at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia.

Information on the Payton, Buck Buchanan, Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards can be found at


This Weekend's Record: 10-0 (1.000)

Season Record: 575-184 (.758)

All Times ET

X-Predicted Winner

FCS Quarterfinals

Dec. 7-8

Wofford (9-3) at X-No. 1 seed North Dakota State (11-1). The Bison have surrendered 16 points in their last four playoff games. Crazy.

Game of the Week: No. 5 seed Georgia Southern (9-3) at X-No. 4 seed Old Dominion (11-1). It's hard to be a defensive coordinator in this matchup.

X-Sam Houston State (9-3) at No. 3 seed Montana State (11-1). It's a rematch from last year's quarterfinals, and the visiting Bearkats have more overall speed.

Illinois State (9-3) at X-No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (10-2), 6 p.m.. The Eagles better find their run game.

SWAC Championship

Dec. 8 at Birmingham, Ala.

X-Jackson State (7-4) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-2), 2 p.m. Jackson State had three 100-yard rushers in the regular-season meeting and lost because of fumbles. This time, the Tigers hold onto the ball.