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UCA Bears can clinch Southland's playoff berth with win Saturday
With a win this weekend, Central Arkansas will clinch the Southland Conference’s automatic berth into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The Bears (7-2, 5-1) face Northwestern State at home in their final conference game of the year. UCA has a bye next week then faces potential Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Illinois in the regular-season finale.
With a win, the Bears could do no worse than tie Sam Houston State or Southeastern Louisiana for the conference title, and owns the tiebreaker against both by virtue of beating them head-to-head.
UCA has yet to lose a home game in two years on its new purple-and-gray playing surface.
Bears coach Clint Conque said the field can’t get too much credit for the success, though.
“It hasn’t made a block or a tackle yet,” Conque said. “But, of course, it is unique. There are only three nontraditional fields in the country — here, Boise State and Eastern Washington. Everybody has the same dimensions, but it does give us an identity.”
• COMPUTERS LOVE SLC: When asked about the prospect of three Southland teams making the postseason, McNeese head coach Matt Viator said it’s something he hasn’t even thought about yet.
“Up until last week we were just trying to win a game, so I haven’t even looked at it,” Viator said.
It hasn’t happened since 1998, but if the computer rankings are any indication, the Cowboys will have a chance to change that if they win out.
According to the Gridiron Power Index, which calculates five computer rankings in addition to the coaches and media polls, the Southland is the fourth-best league in the FCS.
The SLC (37.56) trails the Missouri Valley (23.03), Southern (30.79), and Big Sky (31.7).
The vaunted Colonial Athletic? In sixth place behind the Ohio Valley.
McNeese is rated 27th in the GPI. Sam Houston State is No. 4 and UCA is No. 9.
By Alex Hickey / American Press