CAA football race remains tight with 3 weeks left

Three weeks remain in the Football Championship Subdivision regular season, and the Colonial Athletic Association has one leader (Maine) and four more teams in the mix for playoff berths (Delaware, Towson, William and Mary and James Madison).

Maine and Towson appeared to be playoff locks before the Tigers fur-balled a 31-10 lead to Delaware at home and lost 32-31 on Saturday. The Tigers have work to do.

Enough of the top teams play each other in the final three weeks, so that should create further separation. Or, with particular combinations of wins and losses, it could jumble the picture, and good luck to the playoff selection committee attempting to differentiate resume’s.

The playoff field expands to 24 teams this season, with two more automatic berths and two at-large invites.

Here’s where we are, with the top teams’ remaining games:

Maine (8-1, 5-0): at Albany, Rhode Island, at New Hampshire. The Black Bears have a favorable path to the title and automatic berth. Albany and Rhody are a combined 4-15, 2-9 in the league. New Hampshire is dangerous, but who knows how motivated the Wildcats will be with their nine-year postseason streak done. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: What Jack Cosgrove accomplishes in the football hotbed of Orono, Maine is nothing short of miraculous.

Delaware (7-2, 4-1): William and Mary, Richmond, Villanova (Chester, Pa). Two home games and a neutral site matchup with rival Villanova. The Blue Hens’ unlikely comeback at Towson – backup QB Trevor Sasek started his first game since 2011 and threw for 330 yards and 3 TD – may even provide some wiggle room if they lose one of their final three. Maine holds the tiebreaker if the two finish tied, courtesy of a 62-28 thumping in early October.

Towson (8-2, 4-2): at William and Mary, James Madison. The Tigers look like the most formidable bunch in the league when playing well. They’re physical on both sides of the ball, and Terrence West can simply bludgeon people. Their two losses were face-plants, early against Villanova (three turnovers created a 21-0 hole) and late against Delaware. They have a bye this Saturday before their final two games. Win one and finish 9-3, with a win over FBS Connecticut, should be enough for an at-large berth. Lose their last two to finish 8-4, with losses in their final three games, might doom them.

William and Mary (6-3, 3-2): at Delaware, Towson, at Richmond. The Tribe probably has to win out in order to get into the playoffs, and will deserve a berth if it does so. Win two of three, and the team holds its breath come Selection Sunday. W&M’s defense has been exceptional all season, particularly in the past two weeks – limiting JMU and New Hampshire to a total of seven points. The defense must continue to carry the load, given its offensive shortcomings.

James Madison (6-3, 3-2): at New Hampshire, Stony Brook, at Towson. The Dukes, too, are living on the edge. They play superb defense – linebacker Stephon Robertson is as good as it gets at the FCS level – but they gakked up leads against FBS Akron and Delaware, and have inexplicable lapses in all three phases at various times. Probably need to win out – 8-4 might not get it done, particularly with losses to Delaware, William and Mary and perhaps Towson above them.

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