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In the FCS Huddle: The West has become best

10:15 AM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Sixth-grade math is coming to my household this fall. I've already raised the white flag on being able to help my daughter anymore.

Besides, by then I'll be knee deep in this newfangled FCS geography.

The FCS, of course, doesn't always get our national landscape correct.

Unless you believe it makes sense to have a conference (Pioneer) that's spread from coast to coast, north and south, with schools in nine states.

There's also little agreement on the FCS capital. Some say it's Frisco, Texas, home of the national championship game. The really vocal ones say it's Missoula, Mont. Others believe it's Fargo, N.D. Those supporting Boone, N.C., have lost some steam.

And then there's the dividing line of the Mississippi River, which is hardly central to the FCS schools but basically the East-West split.

This year, it will be tough for anybody out West to clamor about an Eastern bias. Even though about three-quarters of the FCS programs are east of the Mississippi, the West seemingly has more top contenders for the FCS national title.

None, of course, is a stronger threat than North Dakota State, which has won the last two national championships and, with a veteran squad, is seeking to become the second program to claim a title three-peat (after Appalachian State from 2005-07).

With Southern Conference powers Appalachian State and Georgia Southern ineligible for the FCS playoffs while they begin to transition toward the FBS, North Dakota State's road has been made easier. The Bison defeated Georgia Southern in the national semifinals on the way to the last two finals.

In those national title games, the Bison have twice beaten another "West" school, Sam Houston State, whose hope of returning to Frisco also is legitimate because of its returning talent on offense.

Before NDSU won two straight titles, Eastern Washington captured the 2010 FCS title, so it's been three straight "West" champs. Prior to that, you had to go back several decades just to add up to three.

Eastern Washington, also a national semifinalist last season, has the talent to make another national title run, although its schedule is among the toughest in the FCS).

Montana State has had more success than Eastern Washington in the regular season - earning a share of the last three Big Sky titles. It just needs to validate its dominance in the postseason.

Traditional FCS power Montana, coming off its first losing season since 1985, probably isn't ready to be the best in the West again, but South Dakota State, after nipping at North Dakota State's heel last season, will get serious on the national level.

Central Arkansas? Maybe, just maybe ...

Without Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in the East, Wofford will be the team to beat in the Southern Conference. Meanwhile, CAA Football has some pretty strong teams in Villanova, Towson and Stony Brook, which keeps loading up on transfers.

But the best bets for teams making the national championship game are out West.

The Sports Network

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