Where Delaware stands in FCS playoff picture at season’s midpoint: Compiling outlet projections

BY DANIEL STEENKAMER
Managing Sports Editor

As winners of four in a row, the seventh-ranked Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens enter Saturday’s game at Hampton University in first place in Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) Football. Delaware’s 3-0 CAA record gives it sole possession of first in the conference over Villanova University, Elon University and the University of Richmond, all of which are 3-1 in league games. As usual, parity rules the Coastal roost.

Though the Blue Hens have a long road ahead to extend their stay atop the CAA, including head-to-heads with Elon and Villanova in November, their current circumstances are conducive to some lofty Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff projections. 

Each week, The Review will compile them as Delaware aims to make good on forecasts that, this week, unanimously have the Hens in the postseason field. 

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The Prognostications

HERO Sports: Sam Herder’s FCS Bracketology 1.0

FanBuzz: Brian McLaughlin: Dakota Schools Rule Seeding Picture

College Sports Madness: Week 7 FCS Football Bracket Breakdown

FloFootball: Kyle Kensing’s FCS Playoff Predictions For If The Season Ended Today

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Dan’s Take

Delaware’s 5-1 overall record, with its one loss coming at Penn State, earns it plenty of love in the polls and in midseason bracket outlooks. Though you can only fault the Blue Hens but so much for their schedule, Delaware has yet to prove itself against the depth of the CAA’s best. The Hens’ comeback win over New Hampshire is their best FCS victory this season. Delaware’s other CAA wins at Stony Brook University and versus North Carolina A&T and its FCS nonconference sweep of Saint Francis University and Duquesne University do not move the needle for a playoff resume. The combined record of SBU, NC A&T, SFU and Duquesne entering the games of Oct. 21 is 6-18. 

Delaware’s strength of schedule picks up with its next two games coming on the road against improved teams, Hampton and Towson University. As mentioned, November is most intense with its string of tests in which the Blue Hens face Elon, Campbell University and Villanova. With this in mind, any slip-up at unranked Hampton or Towson would be a setback great enough to knock Delaware from the seed line come Selection Sunday.

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If Ryan Carty’s team positions itself for a first-round bye as, say, the CAA’s automatic qualifier, the particular seed Delaware can garner matters. If the Hens were to land the No. 8 or No. 7 seed, which would likely mean a date with titans South Dakota State University or Montana State University before the FCS semifinals, that scenario is arguably less desirable than missing out on a seed entirely in favor of a path that could avoid SDSU and MSU for a longer stretch.

Of course, that argument against a late seed both assumes a Delaware win in its playoff opener and subjugates the consideration that any seed earned, eighth or otherwise, guarantees a second-round appearance at Delaware Stadium. December football in Newark is not to be taken for granted.

In the end, any variation of the seed debate is premature for the duration of Halloween costume stores’ open hours. Delaware’s prove-it games, its best chances at a ranked win on a weak schedule, still lurk next month – a month that has not been kind to Blue Hen football teams over recent years, namely in annual Battle of the Blue games against Villanova. To net a seed, a team cannot be backing into the bracket.

Larissa Veronica Heather/THE REVIEW