Friday, September 4, 2009

California's dilemma

It's only the second game of the season, but California University's football team is probably faced with a must-win game when Bloomsburg arrives Saturday night.

The Vulcans were upended in the opener, 23-17, by Saginaw Valley State, killing themselves with turnovers and penalties at crucial parts of the game. Two losses to start the season would put Cal in quite a fix to make the NCAA Division II playoffs. It doesn't get any easier the following week with a trip to West Chester.

The first three games will be against ranked teams, a rare occurrence in any division. But after reaching the national semifinals, Cal is having a hard time getting teams on its schedule.

Three-loss teams are rare in the D-II playoffs so the Vulcans would need to look at every game after Bloomsburg as a must-win. They would need to win the PSAC West Division and, most likely, the State Game to get in if the Vulcans began the season 0-3.

"In the old days at W&J, when we didn't have the automatic bid, that loss would have eliminated us from the playoffs," head coach John Luckhardt said. "We have a chance to do well in the conference, and if we do, we won't be out of the playoff picture. But we can't lose a lot more."

One piece of good news this week came when running back Windell Brown's ankle injury turned out to be less serious than expected. He is expected to return against West Chester.


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