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« The CAA Today: INVICTUSMIAC Men's Basketball: Hot Action on a Frigid Day »

Permalink 12/17/09 , CSN Columns, Dowd's Den

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CSN Dowd's Den: On the Way to Chattanooga

floated rightBy Bruce Dowd, CSN Dowd’s Den Columnist

CSN columnist Bruce Dowd took some time during his drive to Chatty to provide his final thoughts on the 2009 Division Championship in this exclusive interview.

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On traveling to Chattanooga:

I’m on my 24 hour road trip, 12 hours each way to Chattanooga from my home. I’m enjoying the scenery through the mountains, beautiful day, looking forward to another exciting experience. I pick up my credentials around 2:30, catch the practices and press conferences, then tonight the Awards dinner and fan gatherings, so it’ll be a busy day.

On the Semifinal games leading up to Chatty:

I was left with the feeling that the right four teams made the semis. You always wonder should this team or that team have been there but this time I am convinced we had the best four teams.

You can’t help but feel bad for the teams whose season ended but the prospect of finality is a strong push for success. I got some emails from App State fans who are sad the Armanti-era was suddenly over, and from William and Mary supporters whose team really showed they belonged in that group but came up short. A little break here and there and both teams could have been on their way to Chatty.

The teams were very close as far as talent. William and Mary’s defense was incredible in this tournament. Villanova is just loaded with talent, and Montana just keeps winning and winning. The fact the Griz are back in Chatty for the second year in a row says a lot about their program. App State, what a run they’ve had and they’ll be back again for sure.

So it was really enjoyable watching the semis, especially compared to most of the quarterfinals.

In my previous column I wrote that I thought both of the semifinal games would go down to the wire so I was not surprised that both were decided by a single score.

I think the excitement of the two games meant a lot to the FCS and the beauty of a playoff system. You’d hate to see blowouts at this point and it showed the parity at the top of D-I football. Any of the four could have won and gone on to win it all.

On the two teams who will play for the championship:

Talking about both, though some of the Montana fans get very upset when I don’t pick them to win, I have a lot of respect for Montana but I’ve just felt that Villanova is the top team in the country. That feeling started before the first games were played but to hedge my thoughts, this will be their toughest game and the result may go either way.

It won’t be like last year when Richmond kind of handled Montana pretty good. I think the Griz seem stronger this year, on a mission, maybe more focused, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win it.

General matchups:

Montana’s defense may not be as strong as the Nova offense, but they did a good job against Armanti. I’m not sure how much was them or the conditions but you still have to give credit where’s it due. The Mountaineers had a high-powered offense. But Villanova has an explosive offense too and this matchup may determine the winner.

Now on the other hand, Nova may have a problem matching up against the Griz offensive line. Will they even be able to see the backfield? The Griz line is huge! But Nova has played against some other great lines. William and Mary had a top line, Temple was big and fast, and I still contend that maybe Richmond’s was the best in the FCS being very experienced.

Nova runs that 3-3-5 scheme that is built on speed not size and they may struggle.

The real key to the game may be, will Nova with the blitz packages be able to confuse the Griz enough to hold them off or will Montana be able to utilize their size to open up the huge holes like last week and control the ball on the ground.

Pregame festivities:

I receive a lot of emails and such from many fans and I’ve made quite a few friends with Montana and Villanova supporters. I really look forward to getting reaquainted in person with the Montana fans I met at last year’s championship game. One of my biggest disappointments was having to cancel my trip to Washington-Grizzly stadium this year. That remains at the top of my list for the future.

Tonight I’ll be out prowling the fan/alum parties. I have a message for Griz fans. I’ll be wearing my CAA STAFF sweatshirt and a Villanova hat but like I promised, I will gladly wear a Griz one if someone gives me it. But somebody’s has to cough up a Montana hat.

I will also be around the Nova celebrations tonight, and Friday I’ll be all over both the tailgates. There are great and knowlegable fans on both sides and we’ll all be having a great time.

While the outcome of the game is questionable, the fun beforehand is a certainty.