A Comprehensive Breakdown Of Each CAA Team's Path To The Playoffs

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With three weeks remaining in the regular season what do we make of the Colonial Athletic Association with regard to this year’s 24-team FCS playoff field? 

Here’s what we know: James Madison (8-1, 5-0) is safely in the field; William & Mary (3-6, 1-4), Elon (4-5, 3-3) and Rhode Island (2-7, 0-5) aren’t headed to the postseason; and everyone else remains in the conversation. One thing to remember is because of the late Thanksgiving holiday  most FCS teams are playing a 12th game this season, so seven victories doesn’t look as good as it did last year, when six CAA teams qualified.

“We’re all taking turns beating each other,” Delaware coach Danny Rocco said. “I just don’t know how many eight-win teams there will be in our league this year. I guess my point there being that it doesn’t mean the league isn’t just as strong as ever. There just may not be as many eight-win teams as we’ve had in years past.”

The playoff field, which will be announced on Nov. 24, will feature 10 automatic qualifiers and 14 at-large teams. The top eight teams will be seeded and will each receive a first-round bye. Those eight teams will play at home in the second round.

“Everybody is in the same boat for the most part,” Albany coach Greg Gattuso said. “Everybody’s still fighting for the playoffs and we’re all trying to win games to get into the hunt.”

James Madison came in at No. 2 when the Division I Football Championship Committee released its top 10 rankings Wednesday based on the criteria used to select and seed the 24 teams for the FCS playoffs. The Dukes have home games against New Hampshire and Richmond, and a road trip to Rhode Island left on their schedule. James Madison is in strong position to be one of the seeded teams.

Here’s a look at the eight other CAA teams trying to play their way into the playoff field:

New Hampshire

Record: 5-3, 4-1 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: at James Madison, at Albany, Maine.

Path to the postseason: New Hampshire is No. 10 on the Division I committee’s rankings, but is one of the few teams that stuck with an 11-game schedule. The Wildcats will likely need to win at least two more games to qualify. New Hampshire will have a strong resume if it wins seven games, especially if one of those wins is against James Madison.

Richmond

Record: 5-3, 4-1 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: at Villanova, at James Madison, William and Mary.

Path to the postseason: Two wins in their final three games would leave the Spiders in good shape because it’s hard to envision a CAA team that went 6-2 in the conference being left out. Saturday’s game at Villanova looks like a big one, since Richmond must go to James Madison next weekend.

Albany

Record: 5-4, 3-2 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: at Delaware, New Hampshire, at Stony Brook.

Path to the postseason: The Great Danes enter the weekend with five wins, but four of those came against Bryant (2-8), Lafayette (2-7), William & Mary (3-6) and Rhode Island (2-7). Albany’s best win came against a 5-4 Towson team, so the Great Danes are lacking a signature victory. This is another CAA team that will need at least two more victories to have any chance to qualify. Beating New Hampshire and Stony Brook would bring added benefits, since those are among the teams Albany will likely be competing with to get into the 24-team field.

Villanova 

Record: 6-3, 3-3 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: Richmond, LIU, Delaware.

Path to the postseason: The Wildcats looked like a lock for the postseason back in early October, but have lost three in a row since then. Although they have three games left, only two of them are against CAA competition. Victories over Richmond and Delaware should get the job done, but a loss to Richmond this weekend would leave Villanova in a precarious position.

Stony Brook

Record: 5-4, 2-3 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: Towson, at Delaware, Albany.

Path to the postseason: Not sure a 7-5 record (4-4 in the conference) will be good enough for the Seawolves, who may need eight victories to extend their season. That means they may have to run the table.

Towson

Record: 5-4, 2-3 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: at Stony Brook, at William & Mary, Elon.

Path to the postseason: Towson has some work to do, but what’s left of the schedule is manageable. Saturday’s matchup with Stony Brook looks like a must-win game if the Tigers want to remain in the hunt.

Delaware

Record: 4-5, 2-3 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: Albany, Stony Brook at Villanova

Path to the postseason: Things seem cut and dry here. The Blue Hens have three games left and they’ll have to win them all to have any shot of earning a playoff game.

Maine

Record: 4-5, 2-3 (CAA)
Remaining schedule: at Elon, Rhode Island, at New Hampshire.

Path to the postseason: If the Black Bears still have a chance to qualify, that will disappear with another loss. In a best-case scenario, Maine will be 6-5 entering its game against New Hampshire. The Black Bears have to hope a seven-win season that includes a victory in Durham, N.H., will be enough.

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