In the FCS Huddle: Playoff field taking shape

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Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There's no doubt Moving Day occurs on a Saturday.

This was a surprising weekend of upsets outside the Top 10 in which the FCS playoff field took greater shape after teams (Northern Arizona, McNeese State, Delaware and Southern Illinois) likely dropped out of the picture. You can project wins and losses for the final weekend of the regular season and feel more content with a 24-team bracket. OK, easier said than done.

As for the positives from conference standpoints:

Saturday's results made it more likely the powerful Missouri Valley Football Conference will get five bids, which would be the national high. Six teams are still in contention for bids, and Youngstown State hopes to force that first- ever scenario by winning at North Dakota State.

CAA Football surely boosted itself to the four-bid level with No. 1 New Hampshire, Villanova, James Madison and either Richmond or William & Mary.

The Northeast Conference has Sacred Heart in the field and might get Bryant as an at-large team, which would be a first for the conference.

Don't sleep on the Patriot League getting two bids as Bucknell worked its way back into the picture amid some of the other bubble teams losing this weekend. Fordham already owns the automatic bid in the Patriot League.

A five-loss team making the field no longer looks impossible. That keeps hope alive across the nation.

Among the negatives:

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference remains a terrific but flawed race as losses by defending co-champions Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State severely hurt the chances of it being a two-bid conference. North Carolina A&T has sole possession of first place; the others have weakened strength-of- schedule ratings.

An Eastern Illinois title could have led to the Ohio Valley Conference having three playoff teams for a second straight year, but the Panthers' loss to Jacksonville State ended that possibility. Eastern Kentucky will earn an at- large bid behind Jacksonville State.

In the Southland Conference, every team has at least four losses except for Southeastern Louisiana, and eight teams are at least .500 in conference play or overall. But the war of attrition might drop the conference to only two playoff qualifiers.

On the surface, Charleston Southern (8-3), Samford (7-3), Lamar (7-4) and Idaho State (7-4) would appear to have playoff resumes. But each has two wins over sub-Division I teams. That's likely one too many to gain serious consideration by the NCAA selection committee.

SECOND AND 10

While the playoff chase stood out, there were many other observations from Week 12. Here are 10 more:

*There are some terrific "win and you're in" possibilities next Saturday, led by Richmond at William & Mary, which is the final game of the weekend (7:30 p.m. ET). Both teams are 7-4 and the winner will gain an at-large playoff spot and the loser might be staying home. Other good scenarios: Youngstown State (7-4) going to North Dakota State, Liberty (7-4) visiting Coastal Carolina and Montana (7-4) hosting Montana State.

*The compliance departments at Pioneer Football League schools will be working overtime in the offseason to make sure there isn't a three-peat of the unfortunate ending to the last two title races. San Diego is headed to the FCS playoffs with the league's second-ever automatic bid after Jacksonville voluntarily withdrew from eligibility for the PFL title and consideration for the FCS postseason as a result of its internal review of compliance matters regarding the league's financial aid rules. A similar scenario unfolded last year with San Diego withdrawing right before it would have earned the PFL bid. Jacksonville would have earned this year's bid with its 45-19 win over Campbell on Saturday, but San Diego secured it by scoring on the game's final play of a 32-27 win over Valparaiso. What a year-to-year reversal of fortunes for coach Dale Lindsey and USD.

*In addition to San Diego, four other teams have punched their postseason ticket through a conference automatic bid: Chattanooga (Southern), Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley), Fordham (Patriot) and Sacred Heart (Northeast).

*Liberty sat one spot outside the Top 25 this past week and stood to move in with a win over Charleston Southern. Instead, the Flames lost at home and now head to Coastal Carolina next Saturday with the Big South automatic playoff bid on the line. That means Coastal (11-0), which has climbed to No. 2 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 - and No. 1 in the coaches poll - will not face a Top 25 team in the regular season.

*Surprise, surprise in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. North Carolina A&T is positioned to win an outright title and the automatic playoff bid, but the Aggies (9-2, 6-1) will have to do it at rival North Carolina Central. They have posted shutouts for the first time in 60 years. Of course, N.C. Central can be more than a spoiler. The Eagles are playing for a share of the conference title as one of four teams at 5-2 in the MEAC and one game behind A&T. Now that's a title race.

*New Hampshire responded well in its first game as the nation's No. 1 team since 2006, pounding Delaware, 43-14, behind another strong effort from quarterback Sean Goldrich. Being focused on the task at hand and not looking ahead - a UNH staple this season - was contagious for many of the top teams Saturday. None of the top 12 teams lost (No. 5 Eastern Washington was on a bye).

*Youngstown State has to win at North Dakota State next Saturday to avoid a three-game losing streak to end the regular season for a second consecutive season. It cost the Penguins a playoff bid last year. That likely would happen to coach Eric Wolford's squad again if its doesn't pull an upset at the Fargodome.

*There was talk in the offseason that Grambling State might need to be replaced in the Bayou Classic, but now it's winner-take-all meeting between the Tigers and defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern when they square off on Nov. 29 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Southern has pulled into a tie for first place with Grambling in the West Division, and their winner will move on to the SWAC title game on Dec. 6.

*Jacksonville State certainly is a different team with a healthy DaMarcus James running the ball. The Gamecocks, who beat Eastern Illinois, 27-20, to win the OVC title, are gaining steam before the playoffs. They can't afford to slip at Southeast Missouri State because a playoff seed and first-round bye are at stake.

*Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich appears to be more than a dark horse in the Walter Payton Award race. In an incredible year of running backs in the Missouri Valley Conference, the junior has over 100 yards in all 10 games of a 9-1 season. He crushed South Dakota for 221 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, giving him 1,523 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns for the season.

WEEK 12 SCOREBOARD

A roundup of games in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ozx23fs.

The full FCS scoreboard can be found at http://tinyurl.com/nb3zqds.

STOCK RISING, STOCK FALLING

Stock Rising - North Dakota State defensive end Kyle Emanuel solidified himself in the Buck Buchanan Award race with another big outing in the Bison's 45-10 win at Missouri Valley. The senior had a team-high 10 tackles with two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception.

Stock Falling - The usual suspects are still facing winless campaigns. Columbia nearly beat previously winless Cornell before falling, 30-27. That leaves Columbia (0-9), Nicholls (0-11), Rhode Island (0-11) and Savannah State (0-11) as winless teams heading into their final games.

OTHERWORDLY

True freshman P.J. Blazejowski set a Furman single-game record by connecting on 15-of-15 pass attempts for 305 yards and two touchdowns as the Paladins beat Wofford, 31-14, in the Southern Conference.

Eastern Kentucky running back Dy'Shawn Mobley scored all six Eastern Kentucky touchdowns and rushed for 224 yards on 40 carries in the Colonels' 43-36 win over Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference.

In that same Murray State-EKU game, Murray junior Pokey Harris - hardly the epitome of his name - scored off the opening kickoff, giving him a touchdown return of 100 yards for the second straight game, which had never occurred before in the OVC.

PLAYOFF FIELD

Looking at where teams may stand in a projected playoff bracket on Nov. 23, and not based on current records or conference standings:

Indiana State-Montana State winner at No. 1 seed North Dakota State

San Diego-Montana winner at No. 8 seed Chattanooga

Sacred Heart-James Madison winner at No. 5 seed Jacksonville State

Southeastern Louisiana-South Dakota State winner at No. 4 seed Illinois State

Eastern Kentucky-Sam Houston State winner at No. 6 seed Eastern Washington

William & Mary-North Carolina A&T winner at No. 3 seed Coastal Carolina

Bucknell-Northern Iowa winner at No. 7 seed Villanova

Bryant-Fordham winner at No. 2 seed New Hampshire

A LOOK AHEAD

Lucky/unlucky Week 13 of the regular season will be full of rivalry matchups as well as games impacting conference titles and playoff bids.

Among the biggest games are Yale at Harvard in the Ivy League, Liberty at Coastal Carolina in the Big South, Montana at Montana State in the Big Sky, Richmond at William & Mary in the CAA and Lafayette and Lehigh meeting for the 150th time in college football's most-played rivalry. Those two will square off at sold-out Yankee Stadium.

In addition, the key games across the nation include Big Sky, Eastern Washington at Portland State (Friday night) and Weber State at Idaho State; CAA, Villanova at Delaware, Elon at James Madison and top-ranked New Hampshire at Maine; Ivy, Dartmouth at Princeton; and MEAC, Norfolk State at South Carolina State, North Carolina A&T at North Carolina Central, Delaware State at Morgan State and Bethune-Cookman versus Florida A&M at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Also: Missouri Valley, Southern Illinois at Illinois State, Indiana State at Western Illinois, South Dakota at South Dakota State, Youngstown State at North Dakota State and Missouri State at Northern Iowa; Northeast, Wagner at Bryant; OVC, Jacksonville State at Southeast Missouri State; Patriot, Colgate at Bucknell; Southland, Central Arkansas at Sam Houston State and Northwestern State at Stephen F. Austin; Southern, The Citadel at VMI; and non-conference, Cal Poly at San Diego.

There also are six FCS-FBS matchups: Fordham at Army, Eastern Kentucky at Florida, Western Carolina at Alabama, Samford at Auburn, Charleston Southern at Georgia and Savannah State at BYU.