College Football Over/Under: Delaware
Reppin’ our Division-1 FCS fans with a quick look at the Delaware Blue Hens, and whether or not they will over/under 8.5 wins.
If you are not familiar with D-I FCS football, they have a 16-team playoff. Before this becomes a “we need a playoff in ALL levels of college football” post comments section, it’s worth pointing out that the relative lack of media coverage makes their system successful. Because the best teams in FCS are often two loss teams in the better conferences, a bowl system would never work.
No one thinks the bowl system is dysfunctional in big-time college football, just that it needs to be reformed.
Well, two years ago, the Blue Hens were a harmless No. 8 seed in the 2007-2008 FCS playoffs, bound to win a game and get knocked off by no. 1 seed, the University of Northern Iowa. But that’s not exactly what happened. After beating cross-state rival Delaware state in the first round, the Blue Hens led the Panthers from the second quarter on in a win that would have been considered a major college upset at a higher level. As it was, it set up a National Semifinal in Carbondale, Illinois, where the play of Flacco lead them to another playoff win.
The dream died against Appalachian State in the national championship, in a game that could best be described as a beatdown by the team who had beaten Michigan earlier in the year. Delaware suffered major offensive graduations after the game, Flacco ended up heading to the Ravens in the first round, and a 4 year starter at RB–Omar Cuff–also graduated along with a pair of lineman and two of the top receivers.
In, 2008, the Hens went with Robbie Schoenhoft at quarterback, but he just looked in over his head against Maryland in a nationally televised game, the only one they would play last season. The Hens didn’t improve a struggling defense despite maturing talent, and limped to a disappointing 4-8 overall record, the NC runner up season a distant memory.
Enter the program savior. Pat Devlin, the highly recruited D-I quarterback got beat out by Darryl Clark at Penn State, and opted to transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. So head coach K.C. Keeler went back to the transfer well one more time, and now adds arguably the best pocket passer in the entire FCS division. It’s a pickup that Delaware had their eye on since the middle of last season, and it could be a season-maker.
So is it enough for Delaware to return to the playoffs? They’ll have to do well in the Colonial Athletic Association (formerly the Atlantic-10), widely regarded as the most powerful conference in the division. Their strongest competition, in no particular order: UMass, Richmond, James Madison, and a backyard brawl against Villanova. It’s not a bad schedule draw this year, because they miss perennial powerhouse New Hampshire.
Whether or not they beat the over/under and make the playoffs could come down to their ability to beat Navy, the only FBS team on their schedule. Flacco did it, it might have been his crowning regular season achievement for a team that started 8-1. But even though Navy can’t recruit like a true FBS team because of service academy limitations, they still have to be considered a favorite over this Delaware team, who was not able to handle Paul Johnson’s triple option attack in 2007. Though Flacco out shot the Midshipmen, that team was good enough to beat Notre Dame later in the year.
Ultimately, I think Delaware takes care of business against Villanova and UMass, as well as the rest of the CAA, and I think they plug their way to a 9-3 record, and return to the FCS champions bracket as a 7-9 seed. They might not be able to make it two straight over Navy, but they don’t necessarily have to. Over.