The Towson football team's bid for a third straight Colonial Athletic Association title fell short, but enduring that conference has the team feeling confident about its chances in the Football Championship Subdivision tournament.
The Tigers compiled a 10-2 overall record and a 6-2 league mark, and although they ended up trailing Maine (10-2, 7-1), they were awarded the No. 7 seed by the NCAA selection committee. They will play host to Fordham (12-1) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Senior defensive tackle Arnold Farmer said competing in the CAA has toughened up the players and made them better at executing their plays.
“Just playing in the CAA, you have to be prepared every week, and we played all different types of offenses,” the Poly alum said Monday morning on the league teleconference. “Fordham has a little bit of [an] up-tempo [offense], and we faced that about four times this year, especially with New Hampshire and Villanova and James Madison. So we’re used to that type of offense. So it’s just picking the right game plan and executing it.”
The CAA has been one of the more successful conferences in the country. Between 2007 and 2010, a team from the league advanced to the national title game each year. Richmond and Villanova won in 2008 and 2009, respectively, while Delaware lost in 2007 and 2010.
This fall, the Big Sky led all conferences with four qualifiers for the NCAA tournament. The CAA, Ohio Valley and Southland conferences were tied for second with three each. But after Saturday’s first round, the Big Sky lost two representatives, and the CAA, Ohio Valley and Southland still have three each.
“We play some of the best competition in the country week in and week out in our conference,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. “The upside is that it prepares you well. The downside is if you’re fighting that many fights versus nationally ranked [teams] every week, you tend to wear down. Those injuries against great competition every week tend to take their toll. If you find a way to get to the postseason, you go with your strengths.”
Fordham is one of two teams from the Patriot League in the tournament. Its fellow league member Lafayette was bounced from the tournament by the CAA's New Hampshire, 45-7.
Still, Farmer said Towson cannot afford to overlook the Rams, who defeated two CAA opponents (Villanova and Rhode Island) this season.
“They have a very formidable team, but I feel like we play in the best division in FCS football,” he said. “We have a team that is very battle-tested.”