Party Crashers – Who Could Crash the National Championship Party? All Divisions
FBS: Iowa and Kentucky.
These two teams have a schedule that is set up that if they run the table, you probably can’t leave them out. Iowa has Penn State on the schedule yet, if they beat them they should run the table and with another Wisconsin loss, could get into the Big Ten Title game against a zero loss Ohio State team or a one loss Michigan team. If they win the Big Ten Championship game I think you have to take them with one loss.
Kentucky lost in overtime last week. But if they run the table, including a win over Georgia and then beat Alabama in the SEC Title game they would have to be included. You can’t keep an SEC champ out of the National Title game. But with that scenario, Alabama probably gets in with one loss over a one loss Big 10 champ. So that would end Iowa’s dreams in the above scenario.
FCS: Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State
The usual MVC teams headline the FCS top tier. North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Illinois State. Sam Houston State, which lost in the semi-finals 55-13 to NDSU last year is putting together another solid season and could be ready to break into the National Title picture. They last made it to the title game in 2011 and 2012 but their only National Title came in 1964 as an NAIA school.
Eastern Washington is my big sleeper. They have two losses, but because the FCS actually has a play-off system, they will probably get in as an unseeded team. They have been explosive offensively most of the season and one of the losses came to Washington State, 59-24. They made a run two years ago to the semi-finals but missed out last season.
D2: Minnesota-Duluth and Kutztown State
Both of these teams have big games coming up.. On Saturday, UM-Duluth (7-0) travels to Winona State (5-2). The following week, Kutztown State (6-0) hosts undefeated Westchester for a battle that will probably determine who gets in the playoffs and probably a team that gets to host a round or two.
For Duluth, a win and a fairly easy remaining schedule could move them up the Super Regional rankings and get them to host a game or two after missing out in the playoffs last year. That is a big home field advantage come playoff time because the weather is always an issue in Duluth. They are led by a senior dominated defense including leading tackler Gus Wedig (shameless plug here).
D3 Frostburg State and Berry
Frostburg State, located in Maryland, currently moved up to #6 in the National D3 Rankings after a big win of formerly #6 ranked Wesley. Ranked above them are all the usual suspects. Mount Union, Mary-Hardin Baylor, UW-Whitewater and St. Thomas, MN. After the big win, they could run the table if they get by #25 ranked Salisbury to close the season.
Berry, voted the best private college in Georgia, is off to a 6-0 start. They are averaging 41 ppg and have only allowed 14. Maybe they could crash the party that has involved Mount Union, Mary-Hardin Baylor, UW-Whitewater or St. Thomas, MN in every title game since 2005, with the exception of UW-Oshkosh two years ago.