Sometimes you get overlooked, despite being more than qualified.
While Sacramento State’s football team is preparing for its final game against rival UC Davis, the thought of the school’s first ever playoff berth is buzzing around the locker room whether the players like it or not.
Only two at-large teams with seven wins reached the FCS playoffs last season, but one of the two held a resume that pales in comparison to the one Sac State holds this year.
Meet the James Madison Dukes. The Dukes hail from the Colonial Athletic Association and like most monarchs, they did not have to work to get to the top.
Last year, James Madison ended the regular season with seven wins and finished third in the CAA, but the standings seemed flawed. The Dukes were just one of six teams with five or more conference wins.
So why did the Dukes get in and Delaware, who had the same record, did not? Is strength of schedule that important to the committee who decides the playoff bracket?
If that is the case, then the Hornets are looking good. Although Sac State has only played three ranked teams, it beat Cal Poly and only lost to Montana State and Eastern Washington by a combined six points. The Hornets also defeated Colorado.
James Madison played six top-25 teams, but only beat half of them. It also lost to North Carolina.
Maybe the committee takes into consideration a team’s individual talent? If that is the case, they must have liked a rushing offense. Dukes running back Dae’quan Scott ran for more than 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Although the Hornets’ running game has tripped the last couple games, quarterback Garrett Safron has shown that the Hornets can not only run, but pass. So far this season, Safron has taken the reins of the offense and has thrown 20 touchdowns, three behind the school record for most touchdown passes in a season.
No matter what the FCS is looking for to complete the playoff bracket, the Big Sky Conference deserves to get five teams in the playoffs – Montana State, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Cal Poly and yes, Sac State.
If seven wins is enough for a James Madison team that was mediocre against six ranked teams, then the three games the Hornets played against ranked teams in consecutive weeks should be more than enough first-hand evidence.
Those who make the bracket should take a good look at the Hornets, because this is a four loss team that deserves a postseason berth.
But let us not get ahead of ourselves; Sac State needs to beat Davis first.
Ryan Kuhn can be reached at @rskuhn