The Citadel’s slim hopes for an FCS playoff bid were shut down today, but coach Kevin Higgins said just being considered for the 20-team field is a big step for Bulldogs football.
The 7-4 Bulldogs were left out of the field announced today on ESPNU, while Southern Conference tri-champs Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Wofford all received bids. Georgia Southern earned the league’s automatic bid, and App State and Wofford were at-large selections.
“We knew it was a long shot,” said Higgins, whose team finished off a 5-3 SoCon season with a 42-20 thrashing of Furman on Saturday. “But it’s nice to have the opportunity to be in the hunt, and to have something to get excited about this time of year.”
The Bulldogs’ playoff case was built on early victories over Georgia Southern and App State, both ranked in the top 10 at the time. Losses to Chattanooga and Samford blunted The Citadel’s momentum, but a 24-21 loss at Wofford proved the most costly.
In that game, The Citadel’s Domonic Jones got a hand on a 42-yard field goal that sputtered over the crossbar to provide the Terriers’ margin of victory.
“Even if we had beaten Chattanooga or Samford, I’m not sure we get in with a loss to Wofford,” said Higgins, whose team chalked up its second winning record in his eight seasons. “So you go back and look at that game. We had a real opportunity to win that game, and if we do, we get the automatic bid and it’s a whole different scenario.”
The chances of The Citadel and other teams seeking an at-large berth were hurt by what happened in the Big South Conference, which got two bids.
Coastal Carolina (7-4) earned the automatic bid, leaving Stony Brook (9-2 with a win over Army) needing an at-large berth.
The Colonial Athletic Association landed three bids: Old Dominion, Villanova and New Hampshire.
“I’m happy we got three from our league,” Higgins said. “And that there only three from the Colonial. If they had gotten more, that would been frustrating for a lot of people.”
Georgia Southern (8-3, 6-2) is the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and hosts Central Arkansas (9-2, 6-1 Southland) on Dec. 1. App State (8-3, 6-2) also has a home game, against Illinois State (8-3, 5-3 Missouri Valley) on Dec. 1. And Wofford (8-3, 6-2) is at home to New Hampshire (8-3, 6-2 Colonial) on Dec. 1.