Georgia Southern grabs automatic playoff berth
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State will have to settle for an at-large bid into the playoffs this year. The Citadel made sure of that.
The Citadel beat Furman 42-20 Saturday, which had major ramifications to the Southern Conference's automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision. Appalachian State finished in a tie for the league championship with Georgia Southern and Wofford.
Georgia Southern got the automatic bid into the playoffs because of a complicated tiebreaker. The Eagles beat Wofford, but lost to Appalachian State. Wofford beat ASU, which meant that none of the three league champs had a head-to-head advantage.
The next tiebreaker is how a team does against the next-highest finishing team in conference games.
The Citadel finished in a tie for fourth with Samford and Chattanooga in the SoCon race, which meant all of the head-to-head tiebreakers with Georgia Southern and Wofford were a wash. The Citadel beat Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, but lost to Wofford.
Wofford lost to Samford, but Appalachian State and Georgia Southern beat Samford.
All three of the SoCon champs beat Chattanooga, meaning the league champs' records against the trio was 2-1.
Since the three champs beat the remaining teams left in the conference standings, the next tiebreaker is conference points allowed.
Georgia Southern allowed 163 points, while Wofford allowed 164. Appalachian State allowed 213.
Had Furman beaten The Citadel, Appalachian State would have received the automatic bid because The Citadel would have finished fifth. That would have left Samford and Chattanooga in fourth place.
Since Appalachian State and Georgia Southern beat Samford, while Wofford lost to the Bulldogs, which would have eliminated Wofford from contention.
ASU's 31-28 victory over Georgia Southern would have been the tiebreaking factor that gave the Mountaineers the berth.
The selection committee will announce the rest of the FCS field Sunday.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated ASU will have to settle for an "automatic" bid to the playoffs this year. ASU earned an at-large bid.