Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

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MTBluesCAT
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by MTBluesCAT » Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:13 am

Great write up Catprint! Well done!



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by catscat » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:10 am

Amazing work! Much appreciated. (I think your credentials are stellar).



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Prodigal Cat » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:39 am

Fantastic stuff!

I will disagree with you on rooting for NDSU vs UNI however. Bobcats make the playoffs unless we completely crap the bed. The Sac States, EWU's are worried about UNI taking a playoff spot, not MSU.
In my opinion, one the ways we at least have a chance at tripping NDSU up on this epic run of theirs is to make them play a playoff game away from the Fargo Dome. If they lose 2 of the next 3, this week to UNI or @ SDSU next week or @ Youngstown the following week, they probably host 1 game but then have to go on the road. Yes you could argue that they aren't as good this year if they lose 2 games. However, they always are the team to beat come December and I would MUCH rather take them on in Bozeman.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by 91catAlum » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:01 am

Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:39 am
Fantastic stuff!

I will disagree with you on rooting for NDSU vs UNI however. Bobcats make the playoffs unless we completely crap the bed. The Sac States, EWU's are worried about UNI taking a playoff spot, not MSU.
In my opinion, one the ways we at least have a chance at tripping NDSU up on this epic run of theirs is to make them play a playoff game away from the Fargo Dome. If they lose 2 of the next 3, this week to UNI or @ SDSU next week or @ Youngstown the following week, they probably host 1 game but then have to go on the road. Yes you could argue that they aren't as good this year if they lose 2 games. However, they always are the team to beat come December and I would MUCH rather take them on in Bozeman.
I agree we want Ndsu to lose. But do you really believe they will lose 2 of their next 3?? They haven't lost 2 of 3 since about 2010. So I don't see it.

They could possibly drop 1 game but they'd still be ranked in the top 4 which means they host up to the semi-finals.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catsrgrood » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am

91catAlum wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:01 am
Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:39 am
Fantastic stuff!

I will disagree with you on rooting for NDSU vs UNI however. Bobcats make the playoffs unless we completely crap the bed. The Sac States, EWU's are worried about UNI taking a playoff spot, not MSU.
In my opinion, one the ways we at least have a chance at tripping NDSU up on this epic run of theirs is to make them play a playoff game away from the Fargo Dome. If they lose 2 of the next 3, this week to UNI or @ SDSU next week or @ Youngstown the following week, they probably host 1 game but then have to go on the road. Yes you could argue that they aren't as good this year if they lose 2 games. However, they always are the team to beat come December and I would MUCH rather take them on in Bozeman.
I agree we want Ndsu to lose. But do you really believe they will lose 2 of their next 3?? They haven't lost 2 of 3 since about 2010. So I don't see it.

They could possibly drop 1 game but they'd still be ranked in the top 4 which means they host up to the semi-finals.
The chance they lose 2 of 3 is probably about .01%. But... Prodigal Cat is completely right, that is what we should be rooting for and what would help the Cats (and everyone else in the playoffs) the most.
Just don’t hold your breathe that it’ll happen.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Prodigal Cat » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am

91catAlum wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:01 am
Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:39 am
Fantastic stuff!

I will disagree with you on rooting for NDSU vs UNI however. Bobcats make the playoffs unless we completely crap the bed. The Sac States, EWU's are worried about UNI taking a playoff spot, not MSU.
In my opinion, one the ways we at least have a chance at tripping NDSU up on this epic run of theirs is to make them play a playoff game away from the Fargo Dome. If they lose 2 of the next 3, this week to UNI or @ SDSU next week or @ Youngstown the following week, they probably host 1 game but then have to go on the road. Yes you could argue that they aren't as good this year if they lose 2 games. However, they always are the team to beat come December and I would MUCH rather take them on in Bozeman.
I agree we want Ndsu to lose. But do you really believe they will lose 2 of their next 3?? They haven't lost 2 of 3 since about 2010. So I don't see it.

They could possibly drop 1 game but they'd still be ranked in the top 4 which means they host up to the semi-finals.
Oh I agree 2 of the next 3 is a big ask but that's why we root for UNI. I believe that next week @Jacks is the one that is the toughest for the Bison and the best chance for them to take the L. UNI has played them tough in the past and YSU is 4-1 so the next 3 weeks are the best chance for 2 loses. And remember I said root for 2 loses, I wasn't predicting 2 loses.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by 91catAlum » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:42 am

Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am
91catAlum wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:01 am
Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:39 am
Fantastic stuff!

I will disagree with you on rooting for NDSU vs UNI however. Bobcats make the playoffs unless we completely crap the bed. The Sac States, EWU's are worried about UNI taking a playoff spot, not MSU.
In my opinion, one the ways we at least have a chance at tripping NDSU up on this epic run of theirs is to make them play a playoff game away from the Fargo Dome. If they lose 2 of the next 3, this week to UNI or @ SDSU next week or @ Youngstown the following week, they probably host 1 game but then have to go on the road. Yes you could argue that they aren't as good this year if they lose 2 games. However, they always are the team to beat come December and I would MUCH rather take them on in Bozeman.
I agree we want Ndsu to lose. But do you really believe they will lose 2 of their next 3?? They haven't lost 2 of 3 since about 2010. So I don't see it.

They could possibly drop 1 game but they'd still be ranked in the top 4 which means they host up to the semi-finals.
Oh I agree 2 of the next 3 is a big ask but that's why we root for UNI. I believe that next week @Jacks is the one that is the toughest for the Bison and the best chance for them to take the L. UNI has played them tough in the past and YSU is 4-1 so the next 3 weeks are the best chance for 2 loses. And remember I said root for 2 loses, I wasn't predicting 2 loses.
Gotcha, I agree.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by technoCat » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:46 am

We have to remember this is a mostly "new" team for NDSU this year. The starters are not the ones that have won all those games. They are riding on past glories and a yet to be earned sense of accomplishment(at least that's how I'll spin it for this argument. I know they've probably contributed prior to this year). IF they can lose to someone like UNI, maybe the mystique is broken and they drop the next two. Momentum/confidence is a fickle mistress and can be hard to get back.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:28 pm

91catAlum wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:42 am
Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:16 am
91catAlum wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:01 am
Prodigal Cat wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:39 am
Fantastic stuff!

I will disagree with you on rooting for NDSU vs UNI however. Bobcats make the playoffs unless we completely crap the bed. The Sac States, EWU's are worried about UNI taking a playoff spot, not MSU.
In my opinion, one the ways we at least have a chance at tripping NDSU up on this epic run of theirs is to make them play a playoff game away from the Fargo Dome. If they lose 2 of the next 3, this week to UNI or @ SDSU next week or @ Youngstown the following week, they probably host 1 game but then have to go on the road. Yes you could argue that they aren't as good this year if they lose 2 games. However, they always are the team to beat come December and I would MUCH rather take them on in Bozeman.
I agree we want Ndsu to lose. But do you really believe they will lose 2 of their next 3?? They haven't lost 2 of 3 since about 2010. So I don't see it.

They could possibly drop 1 game but they'd still be ranked in the top 4 which means they host up to the semi-finals.
Oh I agree 2 of the next 3 is a big ask but that's why we root for UNI. I believe that next week @Jacks is the one that is the toughest for the Bison and the best chance for them to take the L. UNI has played them tough in the past and YSU is 4-1 so the next 3 weeks are the best chance for 2 loses. And remember I said root for 2 loses, I wasn't predicting 2 loses.
Gotcha, I agree.
Ok, this is certainly a conundrum. I agree NDSU losing at least 2 games and getting a 5-8 seed would be great for someone - maybe Cats - to get them outside the Fargodome. However, as pointed out, its extremely unlikely. So who do we root for? Based on what i have to go on, I see NDSU and SDSU a lock for a top 4 seed in the MVFC even with one or two losses. So my goal is to keep another MVFC team (UNI, Illinois St) from getting a 5-8 seed which would lower the chances of the Cats getting a seed. I try to suggest rooting based on likely outcomes rather than hoped for outcomes. Frankly, it looks very difficult for the Cats (or Griz) to get a top 4 seed unless they win out and Weber and one other team (JMU?) stumbles to a couple of loses. But if I knew, i would be down in Vegas and not writing a post on BN! That's why they play all 60 minutes on Saturday.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:44 pm

Week 8
Bye week makes me lazy. Not as much to say so I put together some conference predictions at the end.

Homecoming Game

Disappointing. What can we say. I few take away stats/opinions. Hurt our chances for a seed but still playoff worthy baring a complete collapse. We were removed from a seeded playoff spot by every playoff predictor.

A lot has been said on BN about the offense. Too many quarterbacks, poor play calling, TA should take more snaps; Rovig should be given more chance to develop a rhythm; line could have played better; if only we could have the interception back, etc. More about that next week. But what is often lost in the discussions is the defense lost this game. Let’s look at some key reasons why from a stats view:
1) After an initial stop, Sac State scored five consecutive drives. We did not stop them until a 50-50 ball is intercepted at the goal line. By the final two Sac positions, the game was well in hand and their offense was using clock and not interested in scoring.
2) The drives were 38, 75,45, 75 and 94 yards. Yes, a couple were short field but nothing like 10 or 20 yards.
3) We never put any pressure on the quarterback. While I don’t remember every play while watching from the south side, we did not have any sacks or quarterback hurries. Because Thomson was very good at throwing the ball away or turning and running, I don’t believe we even threatened once during the entire game. As an aside, after 12 sacks in the first 4 games (3.0 avg/game); we have 3 sacks in the last three games (all at Cal Poly and all very short loss sacks).
4) Sac State converted 10 out of 11 3rd or 4th downs in the heart of the game. We never stopped them on third down until the game was well in hand.

This isn’t to say our defense is horrible – Still 4th in the Sky but only 50% in the FSC. But our pass defense (rush the passer and coverage) is weak. Thomson was 23-30 but his receivers dropped at least a couple and the interception was 50-50. Other than a ball or two thrown away, he made one or two bad passes. We could not keep the ball out of the receiver’s hands. And he is not by any means the top of the Big Sky. As Craig Haley points out, 7 of the top quarterbacks in the FCS are in the Big Sky. We still have to play two of them (Sneed and Maier) after already playing two of them. Luckily, we avoid Barriere, Struck and PSU’s Alexander. So I am concerned about our defense in most of our future games where every single opponent is going to pass more than they run and where three of the team’s average more than 250 yards passing a game!

Other Big Sky Games
Every Big Sky game went as expected. Maybe the biggest surprise was how badly ISU beat North Dakota. Still unsure about UND. Do they have a good defense or not? Giving up 55 points to ISU was a bit of a shocker. While this raises ISUs resume, see my points later in the post about why ISU still has very little chance of getting a playoff bid. Eastern and UCD kept their slim hopes alive by winning games they had to win and should have won.

Other Games by Ranked Teams
NDSU beat UNI as expected which helps the Cat’s by hurting UNI. While many still see UNI as playoff worthy, they are 3-3 and need 4 wins in their final 6 games to even meet the 7 game threshold. They could do it but they would have no quality wins except Youngstown State and I don’t think 7-5 gets them in. SDSU and Illinois State took care of business.

The CAA is a total mess. While JMU beat Villanova, it took a furious fourth quarter by JMU. Nova looked pretty good against the number 2 team in the country. Towson, Delaware, Maine, and Stony Brook all lost. If the CAA does not weed down to 3 or 4 teams rising to the top (two others than Nova and JMU), then a strong middle of the pack allows 5 or 6 CAA teams to get in the playoffs and perhaps take a Big Sky slot. At this point, it still looks we would want Towson; UNH, JMU and Nova to win most of their games and Delaware, Elon, Stony Brook, Albany and Richmond to lose games. The last two teams are sleepers even though they won last week. Not sure they have staying power. It is pretty important for the CAA to not have 6 teams in the playoffs. Southland is also a jumble we will look at after the bye week. Highly likely if Cat’s don’t get a bye they will play a Southland school.

Polls
11 out of the Top 25 lost last week. Overall, that helped the Bobcats because we did not drop as far as we could have since there were not as many teams to jump ahead. We dropped to 12th in FCS Stats and Coaches Poll. Craig Haley dropped us to11th in the Athlon power poll which is not as far down as I thought he would drop the Cats. Granted, it is still and there is plenty of time for teams to falter or rise to the top. 10 of the top 15 teams are from the Power three conferences. Griz jumped to 5th and 6th on a bye week. We should be so lucky this week!

Path to the Playoffs
DATE...........GAME........Result Needed................Record......FCS....... Comments
Week 1.........TTU..........Big Loss.........................0-1.........0-0........ Well, I got the easy one right.
Week 2.........SEMO.........Narrow Win….................1-1..........1-0........Does it count as narrow if tied at half-time?
Week 3.........WIU..........Loss (MISSED)..................2-1.........2-0........Everyone said not pretty. Missed this one.
Week 4.........Norfolk St...Big Win.........................3-1.........3-0........Got two easy ones right so far this year
Week 5.........NAU..........Win..............................4-1.........4-0........Wow, what a comeback. Watch for letdown.
Week 6.........Cal Poly......Win…...........................5-1.........5-0........Maybe a letdown? A win is a win. What next?
Week 7 ........Sac State....Win (MISSED)..................5-2.........5-1........Miss #2. Now we need to switch with UND
Week 8.........Open...........................................5-2.........5-1
Week 9.........UND...........Coin Flip/(NOW WIN)........6-2.........6-1
Week 10.......SUU............Big Win........................7-2.........7-1
Week 11.......UNC...........Big Win.........................8-2.........8-1
Week 12.......UCD............Loss............................8-3.........8-2
Week 13.......UM.............Big Win........................9-3.........9-2

Bobcats Playoff Positioning

Most everyone has CAA, MVFC, and Big Sky taking the majority of at-large positions. The list below shows the at large spots

College Sports Madness - Big Sky – 4; MVFC – 4; CAA – 2; (10 out of 14)
Sam Herder – Hero – Big Sky -4; MVFC – 4; CAA - 4; (10 out of 14)
Brian McLaughlin – Hero – Big Sky – 3; MVFC – 4; CAA – 4 (11 out of 14)
No Bowls – Big Sky - 3; MVFC – 4; CAA – 2 (9 out of 11)

The other conference to watch is the Southland. It has the potential to take a two or three of at-large spots. Why this matters to us is that 3 or 4 at-large bids is the most the Big Sky can expect. And again, if UND gets in the hunt, they will count as a Big Sky at-large. With my prediction of Weber, UM and Sac in the upper tier, that leaves room for only 1 or 2 more teams. Technically still in the hunt are MSU, ISU, EWU, UCD, UND, PSU and NAU. Realistically, I think MSU, EWU, UCD and PSU have a shot at the last two spots.

What I have decided to do in the following chart is predict the final 6 weeks of games for the Big Sky and comment about playoff eligibility for each team. Not because I am at all capable of predicting the future but because it gives us a roadmap for the playoffs. Before we delve into the chart, let’s shed some light on our overall prospects and try to have some clarity with regard to the number of wins and playoff chances.

BOBCATS FINAL FIVE GAMES
• 0 or 1 win in final five – OUT.
o Of course finishing 5-7 or 6-6 eliminates us from the playoffs.

• 4 or 5 wins in final five – IN.
o 10-2 is a seed and a bye. 9-3 MIGHT be a seed but will get us a home playoff game without a problem

• 2 or 3 wins in final five – UNKNOWN.

o This is where there are lots of questions. Yes, I think 3 wins and an 8-4 record gets us into the playoffs. All the wins are D-1 and we will have beaten at least one more quality opponent (in order to get to three more wins). I am not sure it will get us a bye. With NDSU, JMU, SDSU, Kennesaw State, UM, Weber, and maybe Sac taking 6 or 7 spots, that does not leave much room.

o However, I am skeptical that 2 more wins (7-5) will get us a playoff spot even though it gets us to 7 D1 wins. The field this year appears very strong. In addition, we will have gone 2-4 in our last six games and it will be a downhill slide at the end of the season. Last year we won 4 of our last 6. I contend that while 7-4 got us to the playoffs last year; 7-5 will NOT get us in this year unless there is massive mediocrity in the big conferences. We end the season going in the wrong direction.

Big Sky Conference Predictions

This is my prediction for every remaining Big Sky Game and each teams road to the playoffs. Lots of room for conjecture. Feel free to rip it apart.

Sorry for the ad’s in the chart. I am working on how to get a large readable chart into the post. I have split the chart into two of them for readability.
#-o

Insert Chart





Games This Week

So the FCS Game of the Week is obviously Sac State vs UM. Just how good are the Griz? Well, their pass offense is #6 in FCS and total offense is 4th. While some make the argument the Griz have played a weaker first half schedule, that does not pan out in the Sagarin rankings. On SOS alone, Griz are 140 while Cats are 172. Taking into account record, UM Sagarin rank is #82 while Weber is #114 and MSU #134. While not gospel and still fluid, there are no numbers that suggest the Griz are a mediocre team. Sac State stands tall as well with a better SOS (115) than the Griz; a passing offense that is 18th; and a defense rated 48th while the Griz are 81st. Stats are not wins and Sac’s statistics includes FBS and DII games so I still take them with a grain of salt. But see this is a relatively high scoring game but likely a Griz win by 7-10 points.

Weber and NAU play. Possible upset by NAU. But with the game in Ogden, I think Weber wins. UND at Cal Poly is interesting. We have played one team and play the other next week. In total offense, these two teams are 68th (UND) and 56th respectively – but Cal is all run and UND relies more on the pass. UND appears to have a stouter defense statistically although ISU burned them last week. Cal Poly might be able to run on UND but not sure Cal Poly can pull it off. The rushing strength of Cal Poly might give us an idea how the Cat’s will fare the following week.

All of the other games are sleepers and have little impact on Cat’s playoff chances. I do think ISU will come on strong the next couple of weeks but then fade. Their issue is 2 FBS and 1 DII game plus a wicked last three games (EWU, BYU and Weber).

Other Top 15 Games of Interest
In the MVFC, NDSU and SDSU have winnable games before they meet the following week. UNI and South Dakota meet with the loser being on the edge of playoff elimination 4 losses this early. Most ranked teams will win easily.

In the CAA, nothing is ever clear. #2 JMU has an easy game and #7 Nova has a winnable game against Stony Brook. I prefer Nova to stay strong so cheering for them. UNH plays Delaware and I think we should root for UNH to put Delaware out of the polls. Towson has an out of conference winnable game.

The only other Top 15 games of concern comes out of the Southland. Nicholls State plays Sam Houston. A loss by Sam Houston puts them on the cusp of disqualification as they would need to win out. Central Arkansas plays against last place Northwestern State so no worries for them. I would like to see Lamar and Houston Baptist to loss to put some separation into the standings but not sure that will happen.

More after the bye tomorrow.

Go Cats!



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by catscat » Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:23 am

Great analysis as usual. Thanks for all the effort and research you put into this and sharing it with the rest of us. That said, I can't quite agree with your assessment of the griz. I believe they will lose at least one of Sac State, EWU, and MSU. That may not change much in the overall scheme of things though. I'd like to see them lose all three of those plus Weber. Guess we'll know more after tonight.

Thanks again!!



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Grizaddict » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:30 am

Solid, deep, well researched analysis here. Nice work as well w with spreadsheet pics so the data doesn’t get all distorted. Thanks for posting this info.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by TomCat88 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:47 am

Cat print: doesn’t the win over WIU cancel the SAC loss? Or are you adjusting as you go and saying the WIU should’ve been in the win category all along? Maybe you explained that, I’m too lazy to read the whole thing this morning.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by falconcat » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:35 am

Thanks been waiting all week for your post.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:41 pm

TomCat88 wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:47 am
Cat print: doesn’t the win over WIU cancel the SAC loss? Or are you adjusting as you go and saying the WIU should’ve been in the win category all along? Maybe you explained that, I’m too lazy to read the whole thing this morning.
Too difficult to update chart the right way before I figured out how to do tables. I did make changes each week. Now, here is the new chart I will provide each week with original predictions and actual results. That helps all of us - lazy or not! :lol: Now, i need to figure out how to make the table larger.



I have missed two games but after week 8, exactly where I predicted where we needed to be. However, I will be calling for an win over UND per my posted comments.

Here is a copy of the link easier to read at imgur.com. I think it will work. Right click and "open in new tab": Image



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:43 pm

Week 9

Less info this week since a) it was bye week and b) I put a statistical analysis post on “What is the Cat’s historical record against Top Teams” earlier this week. Drained all my time. Just a reminder, my purpose is to help find and predict the best path for the Cats to get into the playoffs; get a decent first round game or get a high seed. Which of these goals rises to the top depends on the next couple of weeks. I am not trying to predict who will make the playoffs other than my occasional musing about the top 8 seeds. There are plenty of sources each week predicting the entire playoff field including NoBowls.com; collegesportsmadness.com; hero sports and “Playoff Implications” on Bobcat Nation by coochorama42 (a must read each week). I am intentionally biased to the Cats and lay out what I think are our best results for Big Sky games and other Top 25 games in the following week. But first the news.

Big Sky Games
Overall, my predictive abilities as laid out last week in the “Big Chart” clearly made the case you should not give me your life savings to bet on Red 2 when I visit Vegas in January. I was 4-2. Ok, we all saw and heard about Sac State demolishing the Griz. And just as our game was not as close as the score, neither was the Griz run in with Sac State. Sac easily could have run up 7 or 14 more points with any effort. In other games, UND squeaked by Cal Poly as predicted. But it was tight and UND was by no means overpowering. Perhaps a good sign for the Cats. Weber took care of business against NAU but not without a fourth quarter surge to put down Cookus. UCD beat SUU and PSU took care of NCU. The only other game I missed (other than Sac/Griz) was ISU vs Idaho. Holy cow, after manhandling UND last week 55-20; ISU looked like the lost puppies in their loss to Idaho – 45-10. This loss essentially knocks ISU out of the playoff picture as they can only get six DI wins if they win out (and they won’t win out). See my chart update later.

Other Top 15 Games
The perennial Top 3 teams – NDSU, JMU and SDSU – all had an easy time last week. Furman (Southern) and Nicholls (Southland) both had significant losses and dropped out of the Top 10. Nicholls loss is particularly unfortunate as it continues to muddy the water in the Southland. They have five teams with 2 or 3 losses. Maybe the best we can hope for is they continue to knock each other off and the conference champion has 4 losses and everyone else has 5 so it reduces their opportunity in the at-large pool. The other positive for the Cats was SEMO beating #16 Jacksonville State. This raises the Cats resume. Typically, the OVC is a one or two bid conference and right now playoff regular Jacksonville State is 5th in the conference. Cheer for SEMO the rest of the year. They have some tough games coming up and UT Martin or Austin Peay could easily make the playoffs instead.

Polls
With four of the top 10 teams losing this week (after four lost the week before), the Cats moved back into the Top 10 at number 9, just ahead of the Grizzlies who dropped to 10. This late in the season the Big Sky has 4 teams in the Top 10 which is highly unusual. Even last year with three in the Top 10 was not a typical Big Sky result. In a quick perusal, I can’t find a poll at week 8 or later with 4 Big Sky teams in the Top 10. Time will tell if all four can stay atop.

Cats Path to the Playoffs





This week – Cats at UND
Of course, all my predictions and talk about other conferences beating each other up is all for naught if the Cats don’t win. With two weeks between games, lots of people and writers have analyzed how the Cats stack up against UND. So I am not going to dwell too much on the game specifics.

From my perspective, this game now becomes a pretty darn close MUST WIN game. I still believe 7-5 will NOT be a playoff guarantee (See last week’s post for explanation from a numbers perspective). A loss this week puts us at 5-3 and requires us to get 3 out of the next 4 games. While SUU and UNC are doable, the last two are going to be tough. We would have little room for error.

Cats have the ball
Our rushing offense is #10 in the nation. It is our primary threat. Maybe some healing to key RBs (Andersen; Ifanse; Jones, etc.) will have transpired during they bye week. UND is 90th against the run. This plays to our strength. Goes without saying we have to do more than run. UND will not melt like NAU did against the Cats (and Weber last week). I can only imagine we will see less wildcat this week than against Sac. Even though UND has a much more porous run defense, the need to establish some sort of passing game seems necessary. It will be interesting to see if UND stacks the box with 7 or 8 men and whether we do anything different.

Cats on defense
Here I have more concerns. Two of UND’s losses came with their starting QB – Ketteringham – out with an injury. He is a much bigger threat on offense. That said, UND has been the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde of the league. Killed by EWU; beat UCD at home; Destroyed by ISU; escape from Cal Poly. The one theme is they are good at home! Their passing offense is 40th; with over 250 yards a game and that is with the two losses without their starter. They will pass a significant amount of time and while their Team Passing Efficiency is actually lower than MSU, I don’t give that much credence because of the injury games. We are 82nd in passing yards allowed. Something has to change in the pass rush and the coverage to beat UND. I had this game as a 50-50 at the beginning of the season and it still looks that way from a statistical perspective. Will the bye push us over the top even at the GF dome? I sure hope so.

Interesting Stat of the week
Cats are 103rd out of 124 teams in 3rd down conversion rate. There are only two potential playoff teams with worse rankings. Two sides to this stat – On the positive, shows we get lots of 2nd and shorts and convert them AND when we get 4th and short we go for it and make it. We have the 11th best 4th down conversion rate (with primarily rush-heavy teams in the top of the rankings.) On the negative, speaks about our relatively weak passing offense. When we have 3rd and long, we convert too few.



Next Two Cat Games
Nov 2 – SUU – Nothing is a given in this league. Even though 1-7 right now, SUU always seems to jam up our bread and butter. Sure hope this season is different. We should be able to beat SUU at home soundly.
Nov 9 - @ UNC – ON paper, no better team than SUU even though they won a conference game. But a road game right before UC Davis and the Griz makes them easy to look past.

Big Sky Games
I follow coochorama42’s thread on “Playoff Implications”. He does a much more through job of looking at every team and breaking them into tiers. I tend not to do that until the last couple of weeks (assuming the Cats are still in the running). From my updated chart of Big Sky teams, I come to a couple of different conclusions but pretty darn close.

Out of the playoff picture: Idaho; Southern Utah; Northern Colo; Idaho State; Cal Poly
Holding on by a thread: PSU (only have 3 DI wins); NAU; UC Davis; EWU, UND (only plays 11 games)
Likely in as of today: Weber, Sac, UM, MSU

What I see differently: Eastern does have to win out but UC Davis does not. UCD played all D1 teams so they can get to 7 wins with only 4 out of 5 wins. While I don’t think 7 DI wins is a sure thing, I believe a UCD winning 5 out of their last 6 games would give them a strong chance of sneaking in as one of the “Last Three In” depending on multiple scenarios. In addition, UND could make it with 3 out of 4 final wins. They would be 7-4 since they play an 11 game schedule. This would be on the bubble. Their loss to ISU really hurt them but I think they clearly will be in the mix if the beat MSU this weekend.






Other Big Sky Games
I have UM, Sac State, UC Davis, NAU and ISU as the winners this week. But there are lots of unknowns. Perhaps PSU is really a contender at 3-1 in the conference. I really don’t think so as they have beat bottom feeders NCU, Idaho and Southern Utah. They will come back to earth with NAU, UM, UCD and EWU as the next four games. I don’t see PSU beating NAU at home.

Sac State could have a letdown against Cal Poly but I expect Sac to win. They may not win out but they are going to compete for the conference title. Sure would love to see a Poly win but unlikely.

Obviously, the two big games are EWU-UM and UCD-Weber. Weber has to play at Davis. This is Davis’s last gasp. They have to win to have a reasonable shot of being 7-5 which MAY get them in the playoffs since they play an all D-1. I have them winning frankly because I want to see someone beat Weber. Sac and Griz will still have a chance to beat Weber but I don’t think the Griz can beat Weber this year.

Eastern typically takes care of business in Washington-Griz but this year it is more of toss-up. Even with Sneed injured, I think the Griz match up well for a higher scoring game. Eastern has no defense so remains to be seen if they can stop anyone decent from scoring lots of points. The word is Sneed is out and Humpreys is the QB. While this drops down the O a notch, EWU is still a sieve on the line. I actually hope the Griz win and knock out EWU from the playoff picture. This leaves us with one less Big Sky team to take an at large spot. While I would like to see 4 or 5 teams in the playoffs, EWU would be the weakest and since we don’t play them, if both of us end up in worst case scenario at 8-4; the committee might take EWU because they were runner-up last year and would be on a 6 game winning streak. At 7-5, they only have 6 D-1 wins. No go at 6.


Other Top 15 Games

Here is a preview of the games of note that affect playoff positioning and what I think would help the Cats. I skip the games where it appears it is non-competitive (like UNI and Missouri State) recognizing surprises happen but they are rare.

Missouri Valley – Goal is no more than 4 bids, maybe only 3.
• NDSU vs SDSU
o Game of the week. #1 and #3. SDSU is only team with any success against NDSU over the last 9 years, beating them twice.
o Desired Outcome: Doesn’t matter. Both teams will be a Top 4 seed unless catastrophe strikes.
o Predicted Outcome: NDSU by 10.

• Ill State vs Indiana State
o Desired Outcome: Ill State. Better to have a third strong team in the Valley than 3-4 middling teams giving the MVFC 4 or 5 bids
o Predicted Outcome: Ill State takes care of business.

• South Dakota vs Southern Illinois – Both of these teams are holding on by a thread for playoff hopes as a 4th or 5th MVC bid team with 3-4 records. They need to win out to guarantee a spot and could squeak in with 4 out of 5 wins. But this is a must win for one of them. Loser out.
o Desired Outcome: Given USD’s schedule, it would be better if they won, eliminating Southern Illinois knowing USD will be eliminated later playing NDSU, SDSU and Youngstown State.


CAA – Goal is for top teams to stay at the top and to avoid a handful of 7-5 or 8-4 teams resulting in 5 or even 6 CAA bids. Overall, CAA is still a jumble of teams with 4 or fewer losses – Nine Teams! Hard to draw a map of desired outcomes.

• JMU vs Towson - #2 vs #16 – At one point, I saw Towson as #3 in CAA. Still possible but a big loss here will really hurt their chances. If they lose, I don’t see them getting a seed and maybe getting in the playoffs.
o Desired/Predicted Outcome: JMU all the way.

• Villanova vs Stony Brook – Pretty clear. We want Villanova to stay strong.
o Desired /Predicted Outcome: Villanova rolls over Stony Brook severely damaging Stony Brooks chances for a post-season berth. Stony could surprise them however. They kept the game against JMU close into overtime.

• Delaware vs Richmond – Richmond is surprise in CAA sitting at 2-1 in league play. After nearly beating Pitt, Delaware has been up and down. With three loses, they can still be a player. I think it would be best for Delaware to be 3/4th strongest team in CAA. Richmond has to still play JMU and Villanova so they can only be a spoiler in my mind.
o Desired/Predicted Outcome: Delaware strongly playing at home with playoffs in mind

Southland – This is a conference I fear to tread. Worse than the CAA because these teams beat each other up but most of them may not be very good. There are nine teams her with 4 or fewer losses and none with 0 or 1 loss. While Central Ark. Nicholls and Sam Houston State are all ranked, it is difficult to say if they are the best three teams in the conference. There will be some reckoning this weekend and next. I am not convinced any team from the Southland is a Top 15 team.

• Cent Ark vs Sam Houston - Number 12 against number 21. Sam Houston has been coming on strong and appears to have some momentum winning 4 out of their last 5. In general, I see SHSU as the leader in the Southland but I still have a sore spot in my emotions for how badly they kicked the Cats tails in the playoffs 8-9 years ago. They were simply faster at every position. Not so fast any more, they are still scary.
o Desired Outcome: Sam Houston State
o Predicted Outcome: Central Ark. in a high scoring shootout. But it is no gimme.

• Nicholls vs Abilene Christian – ACU is 4-4 and technically could qualify for a playoff spot by winning out. I don’t see it happening.

• SE Louisiana vs Houston Baptist – SELA has been in and out of the Top 25 surprise victory over Jacksonville State. Some sites have SELA still in bid list, others have outside looking in. A victory by SELA goes a long way to helping them out but their season was shortened to 11 games by a Hurricane cancellation. This means 7 wins need to come from 4 of the next 5 games. Best for Cats for SELA to drop from playoff picture.
o Desired Outcome: Houston Baptist.
o Predicted Outcome: SELA

Everything else is just noise at this point. Still 2-3 weeks away from laying out a set of predictions of exactly what we want to see happen. Win this weekend at UND and a seed is still possible. Lose this weekend and the grind will be getting us in the playoffs, forget about a seed.



Catprint
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Wed Oct 30, 2019 12:14 am

Week 10

Sky high expectations results in hitting the pavement harder. I went into a funk Saturday afternoon and evening. Swung out of it when I watched the Bobcat volleyball team beat Sac State and snap a 9 year losing streak!! Nothing like a live game and good win to offset a bad TV experience. Nonetheless, losing two in a row is tough. I decided to write this week’s post without reading any Bobcat Nation or Hero’s sports or other analysis and not watching any replays or listen to any pressers or podcasts. I mean seeing the picture of the blocked punt all other the internet was enough. I swear I saw it on the Washington Post site right below the latest impeachment testimony story!!! It was more than a good man can take! I must have seen the photo 50 times.

Given that, I limit my game summary to three points. Because now, there is way more importance to this thread as the Cats have very little margin for error and may very well need help in the last couple of games…. But I digress

The UND Game and Three Points
• Special Teams – not the blocked punt but the failure to field the punt that put us at the one. Have the ball at the 22 or 23-yard line with 6 minutes left and it is way different ending.
• Clock Management – two delay of games and handing the ball over on a failed fourth down with two timeouts in the pocket. Saving them for next week’s game?
• The Offense: Last five games Cats have scored 56,49,34,21, and 12 points on the board. A trend that every opponent sees.

Big Sky Games
Not much luck on the prediction side – After the MSU-UND game miss, I had UCD beating Weber (thought for sure UCD could come back in the latter half of the season) and I thought ISU was a decent team. Well, either Southern Utah is a force to be reckoned with at 2-7 or something went haywire with Idaho State. I was only 3-3. Hate to say it but with Snead out, UM still looked really good. UM still has the 13th best passing offense; 8 most points scored at 37.8 a game and 8th best 3rd down conversion ratio in the FCS. They are winning the games they need to win. Now all that said, EWU has NO defense this year and I feel really bad we did not get to play them this year.

Weber played very well against UCD and I take back everything I thought I said about Weber’s weak offense. They average 37.8 against FCS competition and easily handled the Aggies on the road. Of course, Weber has a pretty darn solid defense as well at #27 in the nation.

SUU’s dismantling of ISU 59-34 should cause us all some cause for concern. SUU has a quarterback who can throw and they can put points on the board. They are 58th in total offense – not far behind MSU but 23rd in passing offense. More about that later.

Other Top 15/25 Games of note – bullet points (all Poll positions refer to last week)

CAA
- #5 Villanova losing to Stony Brook is bad for the Cats. We need some separation in the CAA and this leaves only JMU at the top
- Richmond beating #19 Delaware also not good. Knocks Delaware down a notch and seven 3 or 4 loss teams in the CAA means lots of teams competing for the bubble spots
- #16 Towson losing to JMU was expected.
MVFC
- NDSU beating SDSU means nothing. They will both get top seeds
- #8 Ill St. and #11 UNI both won which is mixed bag. Really would rather see only three strong teams in MVFC.
- Speaking of trouble, Southern Ill beating South Dakota was not great. This leaves SIU at 4-4 with only one difficult game left. They could end up at 7-5 which could squeak in as a 5th MVFC team. I bunch of writers have SIU in their brackets. Not good for Big Sky teams.
SOUTHLAND
- Talk about disaster for bubble teams out of the Big Sky.
- SELA won keeping them in the mix as a strong playoff option.
- Sam Houston lost to #12 Central Arkansas. This leaves UCA at the top of the Southland with no solid challengers.
- Nicholls lost which really hurts. This puts 7 teams with 3 or 4 losses and leaves way too many teams on the bubble. Highly likely a Southland team or two will get an at-large bid and maybe steal one from the Big Sky.

Polls
Oh well, dropped to #14. Way better than I thought. For some reason, still hanging on to Sam Herder’s Top 15 Playoff teams at #15.

Path to the Playoffs



Now this is where it gets fun. Because the Cats path to the playoffs is not crystal clear any longer and frankly how they have been playing on offense makes it highly suspect they will win out. From my perspective, they HAVE to win the next two games to be considered for the playoffs. If they don’t win the next two; moral of the team suffers immensely; the voters will see the quality of these two teams we play (SUU and UNC at the bottom of the league); and losing 3 out of 4 games going into our last two games …… it will not matter what happens at UCD or Cat/Griz. Win both of the next two or we are out.

BOBCATS FINAL FOUR GAMES UPDATE
• 0 or 1 win in final four games– OUT OF PLAYOFFS
o Of course finishing 5-7 or 6-6 eliminates us from the playoffs.
• 4 wins– IN.
o 9-3 still MIGHT be a seed but will definitely get us a home playoff game without a problem
• 3 wins – IN.
o Assumes we win both SUU and UNC and split UCD or UM. Final record is 8-4 or 8-3 FCS record.
o 3 wins and an 8-4 record gets us into the playoffs. All the wins are D-1 and we will have beaten at least one more quality opponent (in order to get to three more wins). I am not sure it will get us a bye. With NDSU, JMU, SDSU, Kennesaw State, UM, Weber, and maybe Sac taking 6 or 7 spots, that does not leave much room. (more in next section).
• 2 wins - UNKNOWN
o I remain skeptical 2 more wins (7-5) will get us a playoff spot even though it gets us to 7 D1 wins. The field this year appears very strong with LOTS of teams that will have 4 and 5 losses. In addition, we will have gone 2-4 in our last six games and it will be a downhill slide at the end of the season. Last year we won 4 of our last 6. I still contend that while 7-4 got us to the playoffs last year; 7-5 will NOT get us in this year. Unless a ton of games go our way the next 4 weeks.

Rest of Big Sky Playoff Prediction Update





Last week I had PSU, UND and NAU hanging by a thread and EWU and UCD at 50/50. Here is the update shown in the chart.
1) PSU’s loss to NAU puts them at 5-4. They can only have 6 D1 wins now (2 of their 5 are DII). They are out.
2) EWU had to win out to be 8-4 with a DII win. Their loss to UM means a max of 6 DI wins. They are out.
3) Technically NAU is still in the hunt. However, they must win out and play EWU and Sac. Good as out.
4) UCD hangs on by a thread. They must win out and they play MSU and Sac State. And even then they are 7-5.
5) UND greatly improved their options with the win. I moved them to 50-50. 2 out of 3 wins in final games to get to 7-4. They only play an 11 game slate. They play at Weber so they must win at home against UNC and SUU. UND is undefeated at home.
6) Sac State needs 2 wins out of last four games to qualify. Should be able to do it.
7) Weber needs only one more win as they have played an all D1 slate. Should get it at UND if they don’t dump Sac.
8 ) Griz – only need one more win to get to 7 DI and 2 wins to guarantee they are in. They should have those wins in the bag before the final two games – Weber and MSU.

My seeding projections

Three weeks ago I provided my seeding projections on the end of the season (not the current records). In summary, I had NDSU, JMU and SDSU with three locked seeds. Even with SDSU losing to NDSU, this has not changed. Next, the winner of the Weber/Sac State game is a virtual lock on a fourth seed. That leaves four seeds available. Plus, I had projected Kennesaw State to get a seed even with poor SOS. Nearly every writer has KSU in a seed. So that leaves three seeds. Again, I am not attempting to predict the entire field and do the seeding only because there is still a chance for the Cats to be seeded. If that chance disappears with a loss, I will likely forgo seed projections.

My short field Three Weeks ago
• Big Sky: Weber, MSU, UM, Sac State
• CAA: Villanova, Townson, Delaware, Stony Brook
• MVFC: Illinois State, UNI, Youngstown State
• Southern: Furman

My Short Field Today
• Big Sky: UM, MSU, loser of Weber/Sac State
• CAA: Villanova, Stony Brook
• MVFC: Illinois State, UNI
• Southern: Furman

Not much difference in three weeks. Three teams dropped out. Still 8 teams vying for 3 seeds. Yes, a team from the Southland like Central Arkansas could sneak into the mix. Not much chance of another CAA team sneaking in as all other teams have four losses (except New Hampshire who have a brutal final four games so in my mind simply can’t get over the hump).




Upcoming Games

Cats vs SUU

What is there to say? Take the Debbie Downer approach and point out UND beat us by 6; ISU beat UND by 35; SUU beat ISU by 25 so therefore we are going to lose by 66 points? Guess there really is a reason not to get too caught up in who beat whom. Maybe ISU had a really bad day. Certainly the weather was much better last weekend in Cedar City for a passing team than it will be this weekend. But I don’t think 40-degree weather will be a factor.

I am prone to look at the stats to see how teams match up but after last week’s debacle where our rushing offense was unable to score against one of the worst rushing defenses in the FCS, I am uncertain if the stats have any value. Yes, we are at home. Yes, Coach took responsibility for the loss. Yes, the team knows this is a MUST win. They know the situation. Backs against the wall.

But man, are we predictable. Everyone on the planet knows Troy or Travis are not going to hand off when playing wildcat. The youngest fan on the field can’t understand why we are playing 11 on 12 when we put Tucker out at wide-out –can’t run; can’t block; can’t catch a pass. We really have not knocked any defense off the line since NAU and EVERYONE is knocking NAU off the line so not so sure that was any big deal.

So what do the discredited stats say? Looking only at Big Sky teams, MSU is #1 in rushing per game and SUU is dead last in rushing defense. Shouldn’t that break our way? This time? At Home? SUU does have the #1 pass defense against our #11 pass offense. So can we run the ball? I do understand the injuries are significant and it appears to me Ifanse is effectively out the season (I have not read Bobcat nation or seen anything otherwise.) but 5 carries for 10 yards against UND and 1 carry against Sac seems to suggest he is not healthy.

Defensively, on paper we seem to match up. They are #6 in passing and we are #4 in pass defense while SUU is 10th in rushing offense and we are 5th in defense. Seems like we should be able to contain them. On paper. So it says.

So… Cats win – run all over; actually throw the ball some; Travis throws five times; Troy twice; Tucker throws 2 TD’s; our defense holds SUU to 225 yards’ total offense; we score 38 points…… Hope springs eternal. Must wins are for winners.

Rest of the Big Sky

Ok, I have made only one change to my weekly prediction. I think Eastern will bounce back and beat NAU, knocking NAU out of the playoff race. Could PSU surprise UM? In theory, it could happen. Playing at home. Undefeated at home. Scoring some points. Still Sneed is supposed to be back and I just can’t see PSU pulling off the upset. UM wins game 7 and is right on the edge of being a lock for a playoff spot. The other two playoff bubble teams – UND and UCD – have byes for this week.

The big game is Sac State and Weber. I have no insight into who will win. Playing at Sacramento gives a small edge to the home team. Typically, there is no one in the stands at Sac State but two weeks ago against the Griz they said attendance was 19,000. Now I find that hard to believe – whenever the camera panned the stands, it looked more like 10-12k at the most. Still they have real fans now. Surprisingly, the results don’t have much bearing on the Cat’s playoff positioning. It is nearly impossible for Cats to win the automatic bid. The advantage of Sac State winning is it gives us a better SOS and overall resume. So I will cheer for Sac State but I would not be surprised if Weber’s defense holds Sac State to under 30 points (First time all season against FCS competition) and wins by 7-10 points.


Other Top 15/25 Games
CAA
• #11 Villanova vs UNH – Need Nova to snap out of their funk and be the number two team in the CAA. A Nova loss really messes things up and makes it possible for 5 or 6 CAA teams to be in the playoffs
• #21 Towson vs Delaware – Ok, Delaware needs to lose. Need them out of the playoff picture. They have nose-dived since almost beating Pitt.
• #20 Stony Brook vs Richmond – Richmond has 4 losses. Losing to Stony Brook drops them from the picture.

MVFC
We want NO MORE than 4 teams in the mix – NDSU, SDSU, Ill State and UNI. Looking to drop YSU and SIU from contention.
• #7 Illinois State vs #9 UNI. Root for Ill State. UNI has a brutal schedule and two more losses (this game and SDSU) puts them at 7-5 which is clearly on the bubble.
• #1 NDSU takes care of business against Youngstown State and leaves YSU at the cusp of being out of the picture.
• SIU vs Indiana State – Maybe Indiana State can pull the upset. Would really help out the Cats since SIU has a FBS win on their resume.

Southland
Why even bother trying to predict who will win or what is best? So I will go ahead anyway. Here is what I think is best for Big Sky teams
• # 10 Central Arkansas wins against Lamar
• #25 Nicholls loses to UIW dropping Nicholls basically out of the race.
• Changing allegiances, let’s have SELA climb back up and be the second best team. Easy game this week.
• Be nice if McNeese State lost to Northwestern State but not likely to happen.
• Still way too many teams still in contention.

Other Games
• #18 SEMO needs to win this week and stay in first place in the OVC.
• Austin Peay- Eastern Kentucky will damage one team’s playoff hopes
• #22 Jacksonville State needs to beat UT-Martin. Need some thinning out.
• #13 Furman a winner over Chattanooga basically putting the lid on Chat’s playoff aspirations.

Go Cats!



Catprint
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:17 pm

WEEK 11 – First installment

The last two weeks there have been NO comments in response to my posts. I thrive on the comments – good, bad or ugly! I figure the posts must be too long (according to my wife); too boring (according to my grandson) or too irrelevant (due to the latest Cat losses). So after our powerful win this Saturday, I decided on a few changes. For the last three weeks, I am going to divide my post into two parts. On the weekend, I am going to summarize Big Sky games that impact playoff positioning and then games in the conferences that affect seeding or at-large spots (CAA, MVFC, Southern, Southland and OVC/Big South as appropriate). In my second post on Wed/Thurs. I will review the games coming up and what outcomes work best for the Bobcats (to get a seed or simply to get in the playoffs if things become dicey). I will also try to avoid more drivel and stick to facts and solid analysis. But appreciate any feedback/questions or challenges to my analysis!

Southern Utah Game: Ok, that was a great game. Here is my short summary

Good:
• Defense was unreal. Two weeks now with a killer run defense and a stout pass defense. SUU had 1 yard rushing until midway through the fourth quarter when the 2nd string defense took over. An average of 55 yards rushing given up per game!
• Four turnovers by the D and a fifth pick six barely missed!
• Rovig was outstanding. 13/23, 197 yards; 2 TDs, no interceptions. Getting some mojo this week.
• A completely different offense. At one point near the end of the third qtr., it was 23 passes and 23 rushes. Well balanced. Nine different receivers! A fair number of passes to the running backs.
• Solid special teams play.

Bad/Iffy:
• Hard to really find much to point out.
• 2nd half had no intensity but understandable. Although, I certainly was disappointed in the lack of offense in the 3rd quarter.
• Rovig did miss two, maybe three WIDE OPEN “second read” receivers. In both cases, there was no one within 10 yards.
• Even though SUU has worst rushing defense, we only had 176 yards rushing. (Frankly, this could be in the good column as well due to balanced offense.)
• Bauman did not look good as the backup in the fourth quarter. His passes were off target or zingers that could not be easily caught.

Big Sky Games
• Griz vs PSU – PSU put up a fight in first half but outclassed by Griz offense (5 touchdowns) and defense (Held PSU to 321 yards). Griz have their 7 FCS wins to qualify for playoffs. One more win and they are guaranteed in.
• EWU vs NAU – Eastern exploded in second half and crushed NAU’s slim playoff hopes. While I call EWU out of the playoffs, theoretically by winning out they would be 7-5 and have 6 FCS wins. Last year 2 teams got in the playoffs with 6 FCS wins (which I think was a travesty based on their poor SOS and the 7 win teams left out). I mention this because EWU is last year runner-up and will have won 5 out of their last 6 games if they win out. They might get a sympathy vote and get in the playoffs; especially if MSU or UM collapses and is out.
• Weber State Vs Sac State – FCS game of the week went flat. Weber is unreal good. Josh Davis has rushed for nearly 600 yards in three games. He is unstoppable at this point. I think Weber could get a #3 or #4 seed easily.

CAA Games
Seems like the Big Sky can’t catch much of a break in getting the CAA to shake out. Other than JMU, it seems no one wants to be number 2. There are still 7 teams with 4 or fewer losses. We want this list to be no more than 5 teams or even 4.
• Villanova suffered their third conference loss – this time to UNH. They are not looking like a top 10 team.
• Games that did help reduce the crowd was Elon-W&M and Towson-Delaware. The loss by Elon and Delaware essentially eliminates them from the playoffs giving them 5 losses.
• Maine easily defeating Albany puts Albany on the brink. Based on Albany’s final three games, I expect Albany to drop from the list.

MVFC Games
• Late in the season, Missouri Valley had four teams in the Top 10 and 3 others on the bubble. NoBowls has 6 teams in the playoffs. Others only 4.
• The Missouri Valley also did not do us much favors. One game that was a plus was WIU beating South Dakota. This improves MSU resume and eliminates South Dakota from the bubble.
• SIU won keeping them in the running for an at-large spot although they still have to play NDSU so it will be iffy.
• UNI beat Illinois State which evened their records at 6-3. This may drop Ill. State out of top 15 but wait and see. UNI will clearly move up in the Top 10.
• NDSU beat Youngstown State handily severely hurting YSU’s playoff chances. At 5-4, they still have a shot but need to win out most likely.

Southland Games
• Central Arkansas beat Lamar and stayed at the top of the pack. Lamar is effectively out of the playoffs after making it last year (with 6 FCS wins at the end of the season to sneak in – not happening this year.)
• Nicholls beat Incarnate Word to stay in second place and stay in the running. Not ideal.
• McNeese and SE Louisiana kept pace with wins.

Other Games – Big South, OVC, Southern
• Kennesaw State losing is a big mystery. This helps put one more playoff seed in play. This helps the Cats if we keep winning. However, it likely puts two teams on in the Big South in possible playoff positioning. The Big South is weak conference but hard to think a 10-2 Big South team does not get an at-large bid. Ultimately, this is an upset we did not want to see.
• SEMO winning over Tennessee State helps MSU SOS and keeps them atop of the conference. However, OVC has 6 teams in the playoff race. Weak teams will reduce potential selections but I expect the OVC to get at least one at-large spot.
• Furman beat Chattanooga to stay at the top of the Southern conference. Wofford lost to Clemson but still is 5-3. Wofford and Furman play in two weeks. Wofford only plays 11 games hurting their chances to stay up with the pack in wins.

Poll Predictions
There were four losses in the 13 teams ahead of the Cats in the Polls. We should move up 1- 2 spots. It is hard to say if Kennesaw State will drop from 5th to 11th or 12th. Based on how badly they were beaten by Monmouth (who the Griz crushed), I would not be surprised by big drop. KSU plays a very low SOS and many writers didn’t think they deserved a seed in the playoffs. Now that is highly in doubt. Villanova should drop back of the Cats. I doubt Sac State will drop below the Cats even after getting smacked down by Weber.

To provide some perspective, remember the Ivy League does not participate in the playoffs so Princeton and Dartmouth rankings are irrelevant. So we still right in there for a Top 10 team.

Path to the Playoffs



Summary of Cat Options
1) Big Sky Championship and Auto bid – There is almost zero chance of this happening. Weber has to lose to UND and UM; Sac has to lose to UCD; Cats have to win out. Then there will be a 4 way tie for first. In a round robin tie-breaker – MSU 1-1; UM 1-2; Sac 2-1; Weber 1-1. Or they go into some sort of record against the #2 team. Best I can see Sac or Weber wins the auto bid. I will admit the tiebreaker rules are not clear in a 4 way tie with unbalanced schedule but this scenario is almost impossible to imagine.
2) Playoff Seed – Possible but not probable. Three spots open per my analysis last week (maybe four). If Cats win out, they are 9-3 (9-2 FCS) and will get one of these three remaining spots. Possible scenario with Cats are 8-4 (8-3 FCS) where the Cats could get a seed but that entails too many chips falling exactly we will look at it the last week. More about the Playoff seed options in 2nd installment.
3) Playoff Spot – Seems probable but not guaranteed. Need one more win for sure and likely two wins. 8-4 will get us in the playoffs. 7-5 (7-4 FCS) may get us in but a number of games have to break our way in the last two weeks, shades of last year!

What do you think? Second installment later this week.



coochorama42
BobcatNation Redshirt
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:12 pm

Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by coochorama42 » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:35 am

Man, I started a playoff seeding roundup earlier this year (I hoped it would compliment what you do, actually). You know your stuff and I look forward to seeing what you have to say though I disagree on a couple of points (send me a direct message if you want to discuss...this would clutter the boards). Frankly, I think your writeup is as good as it gets. Your take on where MSU sits is spot on. Haley thinks they will be #10 on the potential seed list released Wednesday.



catscat
2nd Team All-BobcatNation
Posts: 1345
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:13 pm

Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by catscat » Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:31 am

Thanks for all your work on this. I find your analysis very helpful and your work is much more detailed than Colter's. Don't be disheartened by the lack of comments the past two weeks. Based on your analysis, I know you know that the Cats lost those 2 weeks. Although I read what you wrote, I failed to comment because I was a bit bummed as I thought both of those games were winnable. Also, with all the"sky is falling" threads and comments on them, your post(s) got pushed down the list and just perhaps the lazy among us didn't look for them. Looking forward to part two this week!



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