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Football notes - FCS playoffs opening round
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 11/23/2017
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Furman's Matthew Schmidt
Courtesy: Furman University

Nov. 25 (Saturday)
Furman at Elon (ESPN3), 1 p.m.
Samford at Kennesaw State (ESPN3), 2 p.m.


• The Southern Conference earned three bids to the NCAA Division I Football Championship, with league champion and automatic qualifier Wofford claiming the No. 7 national seed and a first-round bye. Furman and Samford earned at large berths and first-round dates at Elon and Kennesaw State, respectively. Both of those contests represent rematches from early season games.

• The Southern Conference put multiple teams in the field for the third straight season and the 30th time in the last 36 years.

• SoCon teams are 6-2 in the opening round of the playoffs since the current format was adopted in 2013.

• Furman’s playoff berth is its 17th, which is tops among current SoCon schools. The Paladins, who won the national championship in 1988, are in the postseason for the first time since 2013.

• The Paladins, who were picked seventh in the preseason SoCon poll but entered the final day of the regular season with a chance to clinch a share of the league title, won seven straight after opening the season 0-3 before wrapping up the regular season with a 26-20 loss at No. 13 Samford.

• Furman and Elon met on Sept. 9 of this season, when the Phoenix beat the Paladins 34-31 on a field goal with five seconds left. Neither team was ranked at the time but both have worked their ways into the national polls since then. The Phoenix went 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the Colonial, dropping its final two games to No. 16 New Hampshire and No. 1 James Madison.

• Samford’s playoff appearance will be its fifth, as the Bulldogs previously earned bids in 1991, 1992, 2013 and 2016. The program’s longest run in the playoffs came in 1991, when the Bulldogs reached the semifinals.

• The Bulldogs topped Kennesaw State 28-23 to open the season on Aug. 31. Samford has topped all three ranked FCS opponents it has faced this season in No. 5 Wofford, No. 11 The Citadel and No. 24 Furman.

• Kennesaw State is 10-1 and won the Big South with a 5-0 mark. The Owls, in just their third season of existence, are making their first FCS playoff appearance. KSU has won 10 straight since that season-opening loss to Samford and debuted in the national rankings on Oct. 30. The Samford/Kennesaw State winner advances to face No. 3 national seed Jacksonville State on Dec. 2.

• Wofford earned a first-round bye for the first time since 2012 and will face the Elon/Furman winner on Dec. 2.

• Finalists for the four STATS FCS legacy awards were announced Monday, and the SoCon has finalists for each award. Samford’s Devlin Hodges and Western Carolina’s Detrez Newsome are finalists for the Walter Payton Award (FCS Offensive Player of the Year); Samford’s Ahmad Gooden is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS Defensive Player of the Year); Furman’s Reynard Ellis and Mercer’s Kaelan Riley are finalists for the Jerry Rice Award (FCS Freshman of the Year); and Wofford’s Mike Ayers is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award (FCS Coach of the Year). The award winners will be announced on Jan. 5, the eve of the national championship game.

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