CHARLESTON - It looks grim across the state's gridirons this season.
More than halfway through the schedule, four of the state's 10 teams aside from South Carolina and Clemson have winning records - South Carolina State and Furman on the FCS level, and Newberry and Benedict in Division II.
Of those four, S.C. State is ranked, coming in at No. 10 in the FCS coaches and The Sports Network polls. Furman is getting some votes in The Sports Network poll, and Newberry and Benedict are unranked in Division II.
Newberry (4-3) knocked off South Atlantic Conference leader Wingate last week, but at 2-2 in the league is tied for fourth place. Newberry also is unranked in the NCAA Division II regional rankings used for playoff seeding.
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Benedict (5-3) has won five of its past six games under third-year coach Stan Conner, but the Tigers are fifth in the SIAC standings. Benedict could move up with a victory against third-place Fort Valley State this weekend.
That leaves 5-1 S.C. State and 4-2 Furman with realistic playoff hopes.
Here's the road each faces;
- At 3-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, S.C. State is tied for first with Morgan State (5-1, 3-0). The Bulldogs have Hampton (3-3, 2-2), Delaware State (1-5, 1-3) and Howard (2-4, 0-3) left before a Nov. 14 showdown with Morgan State.
Right now, S.C. State has the inside track on the MEAC's automatic bid and a second consecutive playoff berth.
- Furman has a much tougher road. At 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the Southern Conference, the Paladins are tied for third with Georgia Southern behind Elon (5-1, 3-0) and Appalachian State (4-2, 3-0). Furman has lost to Elon, and has a Nov. 7 game at Auburn looming.
Can a 7-4 Furman team with SoCon losses to Elon and Appalachian State make the 16-team playoffs? In that case, the committee might draw the line at two SoCon teams, leaving Furman out. That means the Paladins probably have to win out in the SoCon, which means beating Appalachian State on Oct. 31 in Greenville, to get to 8-3 overall and 7-1 in the league.
Extra points. Wofford has lost six players to torn ACLs this season, with two Terriers - halfback Derek Boyce and safety Hunter Hobson - going down in Wofford's 44-34 loss to App State on Saturday. So dire was the situation that running back Alex Dunmire, ill and in jeans on the sideline, changed into his uniform at halftime and played in the second half. Coach Mike Ayers said he will move at least one player from defense to offense this week. ...
The FCS championship sites for 2010-12 are up for bid, with current host Chattanooga bidding along with Frisco, Texas; Little Rock; Missoula, Mont.; and Spokane, Wash. Chattanooga has been the host city for the past 12 years.
The Frisco bid could be a contender. It's headed up by the Hunt family of oil and NFL fame, and would play host to the game at a 23,500-seat stadium where FC Dallas plays MLS soccer. Frisco is about 25 miles from Dallas.