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Takeaways from FCS Week 11

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - Before binge watching, there was "Tune in next week …," when seven days of buildup preceded the next episode.

Millennials may not know the water cooler and conversation were once synonymous.

There will be plenty to talk about in the next week leading up to the final full weekend of FCS action. More conferences have to crown champions and the 24-team FCS playoff field will be announced next Sunday, Nov. 18.

Here are 10 takeaways from Week 11:

- A bad day for the Missouri Valley Football Conference, including losses by UNI and Western Illinois, means only No. 1 North Dakota State and No. 6 South Dakota State will have seven Division I wins, which is favored by the playoff selection committee. If an MVFC team gains an at-large bid with six D-I wins for only the third time in history, it will come from the Indiana State at Western Illinois winner. The lack of MVFC candidates increases the possibility of CAA Football gaining a record six bids as well as helps other conferences.

- With wind chills in the high 20s, No. 5 Eastern Washington gave No. 4 UC Davis the "cold" shoulder in overcoming a 10-0 deficit en route to winning a 59-20 blowout. The Eagles' running game pounded the Aggies, with Antoine Custer Jr., Sam McPherson and Tamarick Pierce combining for 270 yards and six touchdowns, and the Big Sky's No. 1 scoring defense kept Aggies quarterback Jake Maier without a touchdown pass. Those two teams are tied for first place with Weber State - all with 6-1 conference marks - in a great fight to the finish. The Big Sky would get a fourth playoff team if Montana State wins at archrival Montana next Saturday.

- UC Davis' loss has helped Big South champ Kennesaw State's bid to gain home-field advantage through the playoff semifinals. It would require the Owls beating Jacksonville State next Saturday - no easy task - but if they can combine that one with a 51-14 rout of Monmouth, it could be the finishing touch to a 10-1 resume that would command the No. 2 seed behind North Dakota State, the defending champ.

- Jacksonville State clinched its fifth straight Ohio Valley Conference title and the automatic bid to the playoffs thanks to perhaps the play of the year in the FCS, which actually took place about 120 miles away. The No. 8 Gamecocks didn't hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with Southeast Missouri and it seemed the No. 22 Redhawks would still have that advantage when it scored a go-ahead touchdown at Murray State with 20 seconds remaining. But Murray's Malik Honeycutt stunned the Redhawks by weaving around defenders on the ensuing kickoff for a 79-yard touchdown return, the difference in the Racers' 40-38, "Miracle in Murray" win. Jacksonville State (8-2, 7-1) went on to beat Tennessee State, making the Gamecocks 38-1 in conference games under coach John Grass the last five seasons.

- The Southland Conference's clarification of its championship determination - some would call it a change - has benefitted UIW, which beat Central Arkansas 40-27 and clinched at least a share of the title even though its 6-2 record could be one win less than McNeese and Nicholls. The number of conference-game losses is determining a team's placement in the standings. In the Southland's scheduling format, 10 of its 11 teams play a nine-game schedule, while one team (UIW) must play eight games. In the title clincher, Ra'Quanne Dickens powered the Cardinals with 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

- What a way for San Diego to clinch an outright Pioneer Football League title and the automatic bid. The Toreros outlasted Davidson 56-52 as quarterback Anthony Lawrence (24 of 36 for 556 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions) and wide receiver Michael Bandy (10 receptions for 324 yards and four touchdowns) went wild. The Toreros survived the Wildcats' FCS-record 789 rushing yards (yup, with four players gaining at least 150 rushing yards).

- ETSU sat through a bye, already guaranteed at least a share of the Southern Conference title, and Samford's loss to The Citadel strengthened the surprising Buccaaneers' bid for the playoffs. If they tie Wofford for the title, the Bucs would lose out on the head-to-head tiebreaker for the automatic bid. There's also the chance of a three-way tie between those two teams and Furman.

- Duquesne running back A.J. Hines has gained over 200 yards from scrimmage in four straight wins, and his latest performance - 213 rushing yards, one touchdown - led the Dukes past Sacred Heart 28-24, which prevented the Pioneers from clinching at least a share of the Northeast Conference title and the automatic bid to the playoffs. Defending champion Central Connecticut State then made it a three-way tie for first place by beating Saint Francis. Only Duquesne controls its destiny for the playoffs, needing a win at CCSU. Sacred Heart gains the bid with a win over Saint Francis and a CCSU win over Duquesne. CCSU only gets it with a win over Duquesne and a Sacred Heart loss. Tight race, indeed.

- Lafayette's 31-13 loss at Army West Point dropped FCS teams to 7-97 against FBS opposition this season, a disappointing record after last year's nine wins. A day before Veterans Day, the Leopards from the Patriot League wore custom "L" decals on their helmets, each depicting someone close to them who has served or is serving in the military. Colgate (10-0) puts its unbeaten record on the line at Army next Saturday, when there are six FCS-FBS matchups. Also included is The Citadel at FBS No. 1 Alabama.

- Speaking of "tune in next week," William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock will go for his 250th career win when the Tribe host rival Richmond to conclude his 39th and final season. A 24-17 win at Villanova that was Laycock's 249th moved him into a tie with Lou Holtz for 24th place in college football history.

Updated November 14, 2018

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