The Football Championship Subdivision playoffs picture is coming into clearer focus across the unprecedented spring season.
In fact, it’s less than two weeks until the FCS playoff bracket is revealed.
One of the games that was expected to play a major element in that potential bracket, James Madison vs. Richmond, who are a combined 7-0, was postponed this past weekend.
Other teams asserted themselves.
And in the Southwest Athletic Conference, Deion Sanders’ Jackson State Tigers endured a second consecutive loss – this the program’s eighth in a row to rival Southern, 34-14.
“I think we got a chance to showcase to everybody why we’ve got a good program,” said Southern coach Dawson Odums after his team’s win in the ESPN nationally televised game. “I think people got a chance to see why you come to Southern University.
“I’m going to watch the TV copy and I’m going to hear what the commentators had to say. But why not Southern? We’ve been good. Now the world got a chance to see it.”
"People got to see why you come to Southern University… We've been good. Now the world had a chance to see it"- #Southern Head Coach Dawson Odums.
— Reggie Chatman Jr. (@ReggieChatman) April 4, 2021
The Jaguars had a chance to score late touchdown that would have wholly showcased their dominance in the game, but Odums wanted to teach his players a life lesson.
“I’m about building young men,” he said. “I said, ‘Guys, why we took a knee at the end: I said I’m about character, and I’m going to hold you to a higher standard. But when you’re down as an African-American male, I don’t want to score on you for life. So I try to build you back up.’
“That team (Jackson State) was getting beat. I’m not going to bury them. Those are somebody’s children, too.”
The Jaguars are trying to make another appearance in the SWAC championship game May 1 and have two weeks to prepare for a regular-season finale against rival Grambling.
GIVE A HOOT
Kennesaw State is undefeated at 4-0, though just 2-0 in Big South Conference play and in a first-place tie with Monmouth.
Those two teams’ upcoming battle Saturday will effectively decide the conference champion and the automatic playoff berth.
KSU is soaring through this spring campaign with a ferocious defense. The Owls are allowing barely 12 points per game after shutting out Robert Morris 35-0 last Saturday.
Only Dixie State has scored more than 19 points this season against Kennesaw; the Owls have allowed only 228 yards per game.
Weber State is undefeated atop the Big Sky, also doing so with an extremely stingy defense that’s allowed just 73 points in four games in the notoriously high-scoring league.
The Wildcats wrap up their regular season this week at home against Idaho State, a team they already defeated on the road to open this spring season by four touchdowns. Their game scheduled for April 17 against Cal-Poly already has been cancelled.
The realigned schedules and logistical difficulties of this spring season did not provide a regular-season clash between Weber and the Big Sky’s current No. 2 squad, Eastern Washington – which has one of the most prolific offenses in the country.
Eagles quarterback Eric Barriere, who’s quietly generating some modest buzz about the potential to play at the next level, is coming off a 392-passing yards, three-touchdown performance in a win at UC-Davis.
EWU gets an opportunity to avenge its only loss, a 28-21 setback to Idaho State at the start of the season, this weekend at home.
MISSOURI VALLEY SUPREMACY
The Missouri Valley Conference might be the spring’s most cutthroat league. It’s top three teams – perennial power North Dakota State, as well as North Dakota and South Dakota State all are one-loss teams.
Each has suffered a loss in conference play, and Missouri State, though 4-4 overall, owns just one conference loss as well.
North Dakota State and South Dakota State close their regular seasons against each other on April 17.
UND was set to face Missouri State this past weekend but had to pause its football activities due to COVID-19 protocols. The Fighting Hawks had emerged last week as the No. 5 team in the FCS Playoff Committee’s top 10 national rankings.
The committee will seed the top 16 teams April 18 when it established the postseason field.
AROUND THE FCS
Jacksonville State and Murray State each has just one loss in the Ohio Valley Conference, with Murray State experiencing a continued turnaround while JSU reasserts itself in a league it has dominated.
Elsewhere, Virginia Military Institute’s dream start was halted over the weekend by rival ETSU. The Bucs’ 24-20 win leaves both those teams with just one loss in Southern Conference play but, for now, gives the Bucs the head-to-head tiebreaker as the regular season draws near its end.