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Here‘s why Morgan State won the MEAC‘s automatic berth to the FCS playoffs

by Lut Williams

There were only two out of a possible nine scenarios that had to come to fruition for Morgan State, one of four second-place teams with 5-2 conference records heading into Saturday‘s games, to come Saturday with a share of the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference title and the league‘s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.

One of them happened.Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Football

The Bears and new coach Lee Hull had to either finish in a five-way tie with front-runner North Carolina A&T and three other teams at 6-2, or they had to finish in one of three four-way ties for the conference crown at 6-2 with A&T, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.

First, the Bears had to win their 1 p.m. game at home vs. Delaware State.  That suspense was over early as MSU led 34-7 at halftime en route to a 69-7 rout of the Hornets. The Bears had their 6-2.

Secondly, the Bears needed South Carolina State to win its 1:30 p.m. home game vs. Norfolk State.

SCSU got out to 23-10 halftime lead and appeared ready to pull away to an easy win. But NSU clawed back to within 23-17 in the third quarter before the Bulldogs settled for a 30-20 win, accomplishing Mission Two for the Bears as SC State was now finished at 6-2.

Third, and most importantly, Morgan State needed North Carolina Central to knock off first-place North Carolina A&T, who was 6-1 and played at 2 p.m. on the 5-2 Eagles‘ home field in Durham, N.C. At about 4:45 p.m., A&T was stopped on fourth down in the game‘s final minute trailing 21-14 allowing that apple to also fall Morgan‘s way. Both A&T and NC Central were now at 6-2.

Well, just after halftime of the A&T game, NCCU Sports Information Director Kyle Serba had told me that there was no way Central could win the automatic bid if Morgan State won its game. Around that time, Morgan was up 51-7, and that decision was a fait accompli.

Then, looking over the nine possible scenarios sent out from the MEAC office governing tie-breaking scenarios for the automatic bid, it hit me! The Bears were in with the automatic bid whether Bethune-Cookman, who I saw at the time was tied with Florida A&M at 10 with three minutes left in the game, won or lost. The Bears would share the MEAC title with four others if B-CU won, and with three others if B-CU lost, but would get the automatic bid in either case.

As it turned out, there is a five-way tie as MSU shares the MEAC title with NC A&T, NC Central, B-CU and SC State, all at 6-2. And Morgan gets the automatic bid.

Here‘s why.

The Bears have the best head-to-head record vs. the tied teams. In other words, head-to-head in this case means head-to-head against the other four teams.

Morgan State‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 2-1 (Beat SC State and NC Central, lost to A&T, did not play B-CU). By the way, MSU beat both SC State and NC Central with TDs in the final minute of the game.

NC Central‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 2-2 (Beat SC State and A&T, lost to Morgan State and B-CU).

SC State‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 2-2 (beat A&T and B-CU, lost to Morgan State and NC Central).

Bethune-Cookman‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 1-1 (Beat NC Central and lost to SC State, did not play A&T nor Morgan State).

A&T‘s record vs. the four tied teams is 1-2 (Beat Morgan State, lost to SC State and NC Central, did not play B-CU).

As it turns out, not playing every team in the league and who you play or dont play, can hurt or help you.

From the list of nine tiebreakers for the league‘s automatic bid released from the MEAC office Friday, the one below in bold, the last one on the list, No. 9, is the one that prevailed:

MEAC Tiebreaker:
1. If NCAT wins: (AQ: NCAT)
2. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, SCSU loses and MSU loses: (AQ: NCCU)
3. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU wins, SCSU loses (AQ: NCAT)
4. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU loses, and SCSU wins (AQ: NCCU)
5. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, SCSU loses and MSU loses (AQ: BCU)
6. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU loses, MSU wins, and SCSU wins (AQ: MSU)
7. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU loses and SCSU wins (AQ: NCCU)
8. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU wins and SCSU loses (AQ: BCU)
9. If NCCU wins, NCAT loses, BCU wins, MSU wins, and SCSU wins: (AQ: MSU)
AQ - Automatic Qualifyer

Congratulations to Lee Hull and the Morgan State Bears. And you may now turn in your MEAC Coach of the Year ballots!

© AZEEZ Communications


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