In the FCS Huddle: Playoffs aside, it's rivalry weekend

Philadelphia, PA ( - The final weekend of the regular season serves several purposes, especially when it comes to clearing up the cloudy mess of many conference title and playoff pictures.

It's like one big puzzle. Week after week, a piece of the puzzle gets put down and the overall picture becomes clearer and clearer until it's solved completely. And some conferences finish before others.

Seven conferences have their automatic playoff bid winner. The remaining four in the FCS that send teams to the postseason will figure out their winners on Saturday.

But that's only the half of it. Sure, the Big Sky Conference is already sending Eastern Washington to the postseason as the automatic qualifier, but should it take away from the fact Montana State and Montana are meeting head- to-head at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman to add the newest chapter to a storied rivalry?

The final week of the regular season is rivalry weekend, and playoffs or not, nothing changes that fact.

The Grizzlies and Bobcats have met 112 times in their football history. Coming from a state that is crazed with football fever, the battle between the two biggest institutions in the state is like an athletic purging of emotions. Seemingly the entire state will stake a claim for one side or the other.

It's like throwing gasoline on the flames of the rivalry when both programs find themselves among the Top 15 teams in the country and hunting for an at- large playoff bid. The loser could be left in the dark.

The border battle between Maine and New Hampshire intensifies with Maine already an automatic playoff qualifier and New Hampshire fighting to keep its record nine straight postseason appearances alive. With a loss, the Wildcats could be left home for the first time in a decade.

The Wildcats haven't lost to the Black Bears at home since 2001, but Maine hasn't lost to an FCS opponent this season. The battle for the Brice-Cowell Musket is always an intense fight, especially in the near-winter-like conditions. Saturday marks the 101st time these teams have met.

For the 130th time, Harvard and Yale will be squaring off in "The Game," as their rivalry is nicknamed.

The two Ivy League programs' rivalry intensified in 1968, when Harvard scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds of regulation against the heavily favored Bulldogs to tie the score, 29-29, which eventually was the final outcome.

The Harvard Crimson, a newspaper, declared "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29" the next day, which eventually became the title of a documentary centered around that game.

Regardless of record, these two teams meet annually at the end of every season as a physical representation of one of college football's greatest matches.

Other rivalries this weekend include Wofford-Furman, Lafayette-Lehigh (college football's most-played game with its 149th meeting on Saturday), Howard-Hampton, Florida A&M/Bethune-Cookman, Stephen F. Austin-Northwesterm State, Western Carolina-Appalachian State, Delaware-Villanova, William & Mary- Richmond, Portland State-Eastern Washington and UC Davis-Sacramento State.