For the first time in the Big South's 11-year football history, the Conference is sending two teams to the postseason. Co-champion Coastal Carolina earned the League's automatic bid, while co-champion Stony Brook received an at-large berth into the 20-team field as announced this afternoon by the FCS Selection Committee.
After winning its fifth Big South Championship and earning its third NCAA playoff berth in 10 years of having a football program, Coastal Carolina learned will travel to No. 22 Bethune-Cookman (9-2) to play in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Championship. Game time at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla., is set for 2:00pm and will be carried on ESPN3.
Stony Brook claimed one of the 10 at-large spots, becoming the second Big South football member to earn an at-large invitation. The Seawolves, ranked No. 10 in the nation in The Sports Network poll, will host No. 14 Villanova of the CAA on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3:00pm. ESPN3 will provide live coverage of the contest.
Coastal Carolina (7-4) closed the season with five straight wins under the direction of first-year head coach Joe Moglia to earn a share of the Big South title with Stony Brook and Liberty while earning the League's automatic bid thanks to a perfect 3-0 road record in conference games.
Bethune-Cookman, champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, completed a perfect run through League play with an 8-0 record, capping it off with a 21-16 victory over rival Florida A&M in the Florida Blue Florida Classic on Saturday. The Wildcats are making their fourth appearance to the FCS playoffs in school history.
Coastal Carolina earned the Big South's first playoff berth, an at-large selection, in 2006, falling to top seed Appalachian State in the first round. In 2010, Coastal received the Big South's first automatic bid and fell to Western Illinois in the first round.
Stony Brook is making its second-straight playoff appearance, as the Seawolves was the Big South's automatic qualifier in 2011. SBU defeated Albany in the first round, 31-28, before falling to eventual national runner-up Sam Houston State in the second round.
The Seawolves have wins over Army and fellow playoff teams Colgate and Coastal Carolina.
Villanova (8-3, 6-2 CAA) shared the conference title with New Hampshire, Richmond and Towson, but received the automatic bid based on a tiebreaker. Saturday's match-up will be the first meeting between the two schools, but not the last. S tony Brook will move to the CAA after this season is complete. The Wildcats won the national championship in 2009.
The winner will travel to face No. 3 seed Montana State on December 1.
2012 NCAA Championship Bracket: http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/football/fcs