Towson, Maine and New Hampshire are the front-runners, JMU and ODU have a shot!
With four weeks remaining in the regular season and plenty of key match-ups still remaining, the cream of the crop is slowly rising to the top of the CAA conference.
Surprisingly, Delaware and William & Mary are all but eliminated from winning the conference title and in jeopardy of missing the playoffs altogether. Both teams have had to juggle quarterbacks throughout the season as a result of injuries and performance. However, the inconsistent play of their defenses during critical stages of crucial games has been the difference maker.
Rhode Island started out of the gates slow, but appears to be the team nobody wants to play at the end of the season. With JMU and Towson on their schedule to finish the season, the Rams will have some say as to who wins the CAA conference.
Richmond has one of the most explosive offenses in the FCS have no shot at the CAA title and their hopes are dwindling. The Spiders have some solid defenders, but they give up a ton of points. Watching a Spiders football game is like watching the 1980’s San Diego Chargers and their “Air Coryell” offense led by quarterback Dan Fouts. The Chargers offense couldn’t be stopped, and they couldn’t stop anyone from scoring defensively.
Villanova does not start one senior on either side of the ball, so they are basically preparing for next season. They have some talented players on that team, but they don’t know how to win yet. They’ve contended in most of their games in the first half, but self-implode in the second half.
There are five teams left with a shot at the CAA title. Only three of those teams control their own destiny. Simpler than it sounds, Towson, Maine and New Hampshire have to win out and they will be CAA champions and seeded in the FCS playoffs.
The schedule makers knew what they were doing by pitting the three standings leaders against each other at the end of the year. None of the three have a clear cut advantage, as each plays one road game and one home game versus the other.
The match-up between James Madison and Old Dominion this weekend will eliminate one of the other contenders for the CAA title. James Madison has a better shot at the CAA title with only one conference loss and a future date with New Hampshire. Even if Old Dominion defeats JMU, they need a great deal of help to win the title.
When Towson visits Maine November 5th, the game could very well decide the CAA championship should the two teams hold serve this weekend. Another game that could likely determine the champion is on the final weekend of the regular season when Maine visits New Hampshire on November 19th.
Believe it or not, the biggest factor outside of health that could play a critical role in determining the CAA champion is the weather.
Should there be rain and high winds on any November weekend, Towson will be the front-runner to win it all. They have the most efficient rushing attack of the top three contenders. New Hampshire is one dimensional with Kevin Decker’s passing attack and Maine needs the balance of run and pass to continue their solid play.
With everything said, the key match-ups really don’t mean a thing unless the contenders handle their business this weekend. I wouldn’t be shocked if a Delaware team now backed into a corner comes out fighting for their playoff lives this weekend and knocks off Towson.
A rising Rhode Island squad will give New Hampshire a battle this Saturday as well. I wish I could say for certain Villanova will challenge Maine for all four quarters at home, but you never know with an inexperienced team. The match-up against the Black Bears could be their championship game for the 2011 season, or they will try to get through it without major injuries and valuable game playing experience.
I know Wildcats Coach Andy Talley would love a huge win to build off of during the offseason, but he can only control so much. The young Wildcats players will have decide how hard they want to battle.
Here we go! It is homestretch time!