McCollum’s Column: FCS playoffs and soccer power

Some quick thoughts about college football and soccer:

 

UCA and FCS playoffs

With sports in action on multiple fronts, Brad Teague, UCA’s athletic director, will be busy in Indianapolis this weekend as a member of the NCAA FCS football playoff selection committee.

The Bears are 9-1 with nine Division I victories, are in the playoffs. The question is seeding and it adds a crucial element to Saturday’s game against Abilene Christian. The committee seeds only eight teams nationally. UCA is currently No. 3 in all national polls, including the committee’s, the only one that counts.

If UCA defeats ACU, it should secure a No. 3 seed. If it loses, the Bears are the bubble for a national seeding.

All national seeds receive a first-round bye in the 24-team playoffs. Two of the top four seeds could play at home until the finals. The eight national seeds play at home until the championship game in Frisco, Texas, as long as they are the highest-seeded team. If the bracket were set today with the current rankings, UCA would play at home until a possible trip to Jacksonville State in the semifinals. If the Bears drop to even a No. 5 seed, it would get a first-round home game but could possibly go on the road to play higher-seeded teams in future rounds.

There is still a lot at stake.

With Nicholls having nine wins, Teague said there is a good chance the Southland Conference gets three teams (UCA, Sam Houston State and Nicholls) in the field, a significant achievement for the league. McNeese State has a fourth shot for a fourth team. The Cowboys are 8-2 but only seven DI victories. Eight DI victories usually gets a team in. Going into this weekend, there are six 7-3 teams in the top 25. A critical factor is strength of schedule and McNeese’s best quality win is against Southeastern Louisiana, which is .500.

The major variable, as usual rest with the Missouri Valley Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association, which normally get four or five spots because of strength of schedule.

Geography will be a major factor in pairings. A major factor in that is limiting air travel as much as possible.

Soccer power

It’s been a good college soccer season in Faulkner County.

UCA won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title and an automatic NCAA bid. The women reached the finals of the Southland Conference tournament.

Hendrix’s women reached the championship game of the Southern Athletic Association tournament.

Central Baptist College’s men reached the finals of the American Midwest Conference tournament.

Penalty kicks

In the semifinals of the MVC tournament, UCA defeated Bradley, 8-7, on penalty kicks.

Duncan said, in anticipation of some postseason games going to penalty kicks, the Bears had practiced PK’s for two weeks. The UCA coaches set beforehand the spot each player would place the penalty kick and practiced that.

“Some coaches like to leave it to guess work by the players; we like to have it set beforehand and practice that,” he said.

Teague was attending his daughter’s play at Conway High during the Bradley game, but he said he was able to watch on his phone the climactic PK shootout during a well-timed intermission.

 

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