By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
PHILADELPHIA, PA. — From my days reading British professional tennis guides when I played competitively in the sports as prepster in the 1970s, I became familiar with a rather interesting word, not often used on this side of the Atlantic.
I couldn't help but laugh the first time I found an excuse to use the word penultimate some time back.
But as I sat down in the press box of historic Franklin Field on a sunny and slightly cool Saturday morning, I couldn't help but think that this is the penultimate weekend of the Football Championship Subdivision regular season.
I'm here today to see either host Penn, or visiting Harvard capture a share of the 56th Ivy League championship. Both teams are 6-1 in league play, a game ahead of Dartmouth and Princeton.
The winner will clinch no less than a tie for the Ancient Eight crown, though the loser will still have a shot at tying for the title should the winner lose to Cornell (Penn), or Yale (Harvard) next week.
Dartmouth and Princeton close out the year facing off at Princeton Stadium next week. Dartmouth hosts Brown and Princeton is at Yale this Saturday.
Later on, I'll drive over to the Main Line to watch James Madison and Villanova do their parts to either confuse, or clear up the mess that is the Colonial Athletic Association championship race.
First off, what would be the CAA leader in most seasons, Old Dominion (8-1, 5-1), is ineligible for the league title and auto bid to the playoffs because of the Monarchs' decision last spring to move to the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA next season.
ODU is still eligible for one of the 10 at-large berths in the 20-team NCAA Division I Football Championships when the field is announced next weekend. The Monarchs host William & Mary this Saturday.
New Hampshire — a 64-61 loser to the Monarchs earlier in the season — has a 6-1 CAA mark with a bye this weekend before closing the regular season against surging Towson (5-4, 4-2), the defending CAA champion.
JMU (7-2, 5-1) controls its own destiny with tough games against Villanova on the road and ODU at home to close the season.
But should the right circumstances come together, Villanova (6-3, 4-2), Towson and Richmond (6-3, 4-2) all have a chance to gain a share of the CAA crown.
Central Arkansas clinched the auto bid in the Southland Conference last weekend and several other schools, such as Stony Brook (Big South), Bethune-Cookman (MEAC), Lehigh (Patriot) Appalachian State (SoCon).
It is indeed the penultimate weekend.