UPDATED: Analyzing Non-FBS conference races and playoff hopes

Photo Courtesy of Hardin-Simmons Athletics

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Hardin-Simmons, Trinity, and Texas Wesleyan have secured at least a share of a conference title, while UTPB earns its first Lone Star Conference title in program history with a win this week. UIW remains in a solid position for an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs.

Southland Conference

Chance to win conference: Nicholls (5-0), UIW (4-1), Lamar (4-1)

Chance for at-large bid: UIW

Nicholls can secure a share of the Southland title belt and the conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs with a win against Lamar on Saturday. A Lamar win would produce a three-way tie for the automatic bid heading into the final week of the regular season. The NCAA's Simple Rating System would decide the automatic bid if the three teams end the regular season in a tie.

Despite losing to the Colonels last week, UIW remained within the top 10 of the American Football Coaches Association poll. The Cardinals are off this week due to Northwestern State canceling its season and likely secures an at-large playoff bid with a win at Houston Christian in Week 12.

Southwestern Athletic Conference

Chance to win West Division: Alcorn State (5-1), Southern (4-2),  Prairie View A&M (4-2), Grambling State (3-3)

Chance for at-large bid: None

Alcorn will secure the SWAC West Division title with a win at Texas Southern and a PVAMU loss to Southern on Saturday. A scenario exists for a four-way tie for the West title if Alcorn loses its final two games, Grambling wins out, Southern beats PVAMU this week and falls to Grambling next week, and PVAMU loses this week and defeats Alabama State in the regular season finale.

United Athletic Conference

Chance to win conference: Austin Peay (4-0), Eastern Kentucky (3-1), Central Arkansas (3-1),  Abilene Christian (3-2), Tarleton (3-2), Southern Utah (2-2)

Chance for at-large bid: Austin Peay, Central Arkansas

An Austin Peay win over Utah Tech, combined with a UCA win over EKU on Saturday, would set up a showdown in Clarksville, Tenn., for the UAC title and automatic bid to the playoffs in the final week of the regular season. The loser of Tarleton at ACU this week will be officially eliminated, while ACU, Tarleton, and SUU will be eliminated with an Austin Peay win. A scenario for a three-way tie exists if EKU defeats UCA this week and UCA wins at Austin Peay. The Governors and Bears will likely secure at least an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs with wins this week.

Lone Star Conference

Chance to win title: UTPB (7-0), Central Washington (7-0)

Chance for playoff bid: UTPB, CWU

This one is simple, kind of. On Saturday, the winner between UTPB and CWU in Midland will secure their program’s first LSC championship. While NCAA Division II does not award automatic bids, the LSC champion will likely secure at least the third seed in Super Region Four. The Falcons seem poised for the program’s first appearance in the DII playoffs, even if they don’t win the LSC title. The same can’t be said for CWU. The Wildcats only have seven ‘countable’ wins and may miss out on the playoffs without a win this weekend.

American Southwest Conference

Chance to win title: Hardin-Simmons (5-0)

Chance for at-large bid: None

HSU has secured its first share of the ASC title since 2015 and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Cowboys can earn its first outright ASC title since 2004 with a win at East Texas Baptist on Saturday.

Southern Athletic Association

Chance to win title: Trinity (7-0)

Chance for at-large bid: Berry

For the third consecutive year, Trinity has secured at least a share of the SAA title and the conference’s automatic bid to the DIII playoffs. With only four at-large bids to the playoffs, Berry is considered a long shot to make the playoffs. The Vikings are missing a signature win this season, and any help from their season-opening win against Huntingdon was diminished when the Hawks lost to Belhaven.

Sooner Athletic Conference

Chance to win title: Texas Wesleyan (6-0), Louisiana Christian (6-1), OUAZ (6-1)

Chance for playoff bid: TxWes, LCU, OUAZ

The Rams will earn their program’s first outright SAC title with a win against LCU on Saturday. A TxWes loss would force a three-way tie for the SAC title for the second consecutive season. The NAIA does not award automatic bids to the playoffs. The loser between TxWes and LCU will likely miss the playoffs. A TxWes win would secure the program’s first playoff appearance since restarting its program in 2017. OUAZ appears to be on the bubble for a playoff spot and will likely secure a bid if LCU defeats the Rams.

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