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30.05.2018 13:39
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(STATS) -- Theres always talk about whos in and whos out with the final at-large selections of the FCS playoff field each season.The NCAA committee delivered a message last November that its willing to reward playoff-level teams that face playoff-worthy schedules. After facing what was deemed the toughest schedule in the FCS, Western Illinois became the first six-win team (at 6-5) to receive an at-large selection to the 24-team field.Teams hiding behind soft schedules may want to think twice about what some of the Big Sky and Missouri Valley programs are doing this week. The two power conferences have three big matchups between nationally ranked teams -- No. 8 Eastern Washington at No. 1 North Dakota State, No. 14 Montana at No. 3 Northern Iowa, and No. 19 Northern Arizona at No. 18 Western Illinois.The Southern and Southland conferences also check in with a key intersectional game: Samford at Central Arkansas. The winner will get a long look from Top 25 voters.No team should be penalized for playing good people, winning or lose. To me, thats what its all about, I think its great, said Western Illinois first-year coach Charlie Fisher, the offensive coordinator on last years national semifinal Richmond team.You see the FBS teams going to this, where more teams are having to play higher-level teams. It makes it great for our fans, for opposing fans, and quite honestly, thats the way it ought to be. Thats what great leagues do, they play other great leagues and good teams. It creates a lot of excitement and you find out a lot about your team early on. Its no different in basketball -- teams that schedule hard get better and they have an opportunity to get in the tournament at the end.North Dakota State, which has won an NCAA-record five straight national titles, is helping to set the standard for non-conference schedules this season. The Bison have beaten No. 7 Charleston Southern, face another Top 10 team in Eastern Washington and visit Big Ten power Iowa in another week. All this on top of playing in a Missouri Valley Conference that is considered the best in the FCS.But Eastern Washington, Northern Iowa and Western Illinois -- all part of the fun on Saturday -- also are right there with tough schedules as is 2015 national runner-up Jacksonville State from the Ohio Valley Conference.National programs that have been slow to take on demanding non-conference schedules in recent years, such as James Madison from CAA Football and Youngstown State from the Missouri Valley, are probably going to have to change their way of thinking. Second-year YSU coach Bo Pelini said he is looking for tougher games on future schedules, and JMU has a new coach in Mike Houston.An expansion of the regular season could impact scheduling. The NCAA proposal to allow FCS teams to play a permanent 12th game in the regular season, submitted by the Ohio Valley and Southland conferences, would likely cause top teams to try to schedule another tough game.The proposal has been submitted into the normal legislative cycle for the 2017 NCAA Convention in January, but it has drawn only lukewarm support across FCS conferences.If youre in an 11-game schedule, I think youre limited in what you can do with your non-conference schedule, Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley said. But with a 12-game, I think we all have our options (with) what fits our school best, whether we play a Division I (FBS), whether we get another home game. I think its based on financial choices as much as football choices. So thats what that 12th game allows us do.Our deal has always been we want to get into the NCAA playoffs. Thats (as) many Division I wins as you get, you want Division I wins, said Central Arkansas coach Steve Campbell, who felt his team was playoff-worthy last year, although its strength of schedule was not high enough.For the foreseeable future as far as our program is concerned, we have a lot of our FBS opponents and FCS opponents already mapped out for the next six to seven years. As it develops over the years, Im sure (a 12th game) will have some influence.With far fewer FCS schools in the western United States, Big Sky programs tend to take on riskier non-conference games than programs in many other conferences. The Missouri Valley isnt far behind in that regard. Hence, the trio of big matchups Saturday with another one -- Weber State at South Dakota -- kicking off first as kind of the undercard.A tough non-conference schedule, Fisher said, does allow your team to grow up in a hurry. ... Its a good challenge for us, a good early season challenge. Nike Air Force 1 Low Dame . If ever they start actually putting pictures beside words in the dictionary, the Blue Jays left-handers mug will appear beside “Consistency. Nike Air Force 1 Dame . -- Eastern Kentucky thrives off creating havoc for others. .B. -- The Baie-Comeau Drakkar took over sole possession of first place atop the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Thursday with their sixth straight win. Nike Air Force 1 Hvid Dame . Klitschkos management company says the bout will be the Ukrainian fighters 25th world championship fight. The 1.83-meter (6-foot) Leapai defeated the previously unbeaten Denis Boytsov in November to become the WBOs mandatory challenger. Air Force 1 High Danmark . I cant pinpoint a date, but I do remember a player from my youth. Brian Downing was with the Chicago White Sox at a time when I listened to every game I possibly could on the radio. That particular season the late great Harry Caray was calling the White Sox games. GAINESVILLE, Fla. --?Luke Del Rio threw two touchdown passes in his first career start, and the Gators did just enough to beat UMass 24-7 on Saturday night and extend the nations longest winning streak in season openers to 27.We have expectations every game, Del Rio said. We obviously want to score more points, but we got the win. Thats the most important thing.After having Florida Field named after him and then leading 90,000 rain-soaked fans in a pre-game cheer, Spurrier posed like Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt. The 71-year-old Spurrier flashed Bolts To The World pose to all four sides of the newly renamed Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It drew a raucous ovation from fans on hand for the opener.I just planned it myself, Spurrier said. I didnt tell anybody, either, `cause I thought theyd spill the beans. You know, its never been done before. Im a guy that likes to do a little different stuff, so I was the first to do the Usain in the middle of the field.Many inside the sold-out Swamp were there for Spurrier, who was honored in a number of ways. Not only was the field named after him, but Spurrier served as the honorary Mr. Two Bits. At halftime, he was recognized again for the 50th anniversary of his 1966 Heisman Trophy and honored along with the 1996 team.Spurrier said the best parts of the day were watching his name unveiled on the stadium and then seeing band members wearing visors to honor him.It was fun to get back after it and really get that taste of the last ballgame we played out of our mouth, McElwain said. Obviously, as you watched the game, weve got a long way to go.The Gators had trouble blocking the 36 1/2-point underdogs up front and creating holes in the running game. Del Rio ccompleted 29 of 44 passes for 256 yards, with TD passes to Antonio Callaway in the first quarter and Brandon Powell in the fourth.ddddddddddddFloridas defense was solid except for one scoring drive in which it was flagged three times for 35 yards and allowed a fourth-and-14 conversion.Newcomer Eddy Pineiro kicked three field goals, including from 49 and 48 yards in the fourth that gave Florida a little extra breathing room and started chants of Eddy! Eddy!This is a dream come true, said Pineiro, who played soccer in high school and had never kicked in a meaningful game. Ive worked my butt off for two years, came in here as an early enrollee and worked very hard for this moment.THE TAKEAWAYUMASS: The schedule doesnt look so daunting now. UMass has two more Southeastern Conference teams on tap this fall, but after watching Mississippi State (lost to South Alabama) and South Carolina (edged Vanderbilt) in openers, theres reason to believe coach Mark Whipples team can be in, or maybe even win, both of those games.FLORIDA: Could be another trying season for Florida quarterbacks. The Gators clearly still have holes along their offensive line, a problem that plagued the offense last year and really stood out during the season-ending, three-game losing streak.UP NEXTUMASS: The Minutemen return home to play Boston College, which is coming off a loss to Georgia Tech in Ireland. UMass has dropped eight in a row in the series and 19 of 23 overall.FLORIDA: Opens SEC play at home against Kentucky. The Gators have won 29 straight in the series, the nations longest active streak between any two opponents. 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