CAA preview: Playoff time!

CAA preview: Playoff time!
November 28, 2013, 1:45 pm
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(Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

The FCS playoff field was announced last weekend with three CAA teams receiving bids. Maine earned the conference’s automatic bid by winning their first CAA championship this year and New Hampshire and Towson were both given at-large bids. Here’s a look at playoff schedule:

Nov. 30 at Durham, NH, noon, Lafayette (5-6) at New Hampshire (7-4)

New Hampshire may well have earned its spot on the very last game of the season by handing Maine its only conference loss of the season. Their reward? A first round matchup with the Patriot League champion Lafayette, the first ever team with a losing record given an FCS playoff bid.

Despite their record, the Wildcats would be foolish to dismiss Lafayette, who beat both Lehigh and Fordham to close the season. This is a team peaking at the right time.

This will be New Hampshire’s 10th straight playoff appearance, the longest streak in the FCS. They will rely on their stalwart defense if they hope to make a deep run.

Dec. 7 at Orono, Maine, 2 p.m., Lafayette/New Hampshire at Maine (10-2)

Maine has a remarkable season this year, winning the CAA for the first time. The only real blemish was the season finale loss to New Hampshire, a game in which they were dominated 24-3.

Led by quarterback Marcus Wasilewski, the Black Bears will look to forget this late season stumble and reclaim the magic that has defined most of 2013 for them.

The problem? After receiving a first round bye, their first game could easily be a rematch with New Hampshire. This time, however, there will be a few differences. First, the game will be played in Maine, not in New Hampshire. Second, the bye week could prove key for the Black Bears. Lastly, there’s no guarantee the Wildcats beat Lafayette.

Playing New Hampshire is probably not what the Black Bears were hoping for when looking ahead to the playoffs, but if they can put what happened the last time behind them, they will have a great shot and winning when it matters most.

Dec. 7 at Towson, MD, 1 p.m., Sacred Heart/Fordham winner at Towson (10-2)

What can you say about Terrance West that has not already been said? The Tigers’ star running back has run for 1367 yards and a whopping 19 touchdowns. He is averaging over 170 yards per game. As he goes, so go the Tigers.

Towson came into the season with conference and national title hopes and, though they came up short for the conference, they still have a great shot at the national title. It all just depends on if they can get West going.

The Tigers, however, have a tough draw. After a first round bye, they will face the winner of Sacred Heart/Fordham. Fordham has been one of the best FCS teams this season and should prove a tough matchup. Should they get past them, they will have a great shot at making a deep run.