Football Commentary: Win and they’re in the playoffs

It’s been years since the College of William and Mary has even sniffed the postseason. Now, after five consecutive wins and a top-15 national ranking, the Tribe is on the verge of its eighth playoff berth in school history. The College’s seven wins are the most since 2004, when the Tribe last made the playoffs.

“When you have a chance to control your own destiny, you can’t ask for anything more than that,” senior quarterback Jake Phillips said. “We’re not worrying about what other teams do or what they’re doing, all we know is that we have two games left. We’re trying to go 1-0 each week and if we take care of that we’ll be just fine.”

Currently tied for second place in the CAA’s brutally competitive South Division, the Tribe has rocketed into national prominence on the back of its impressive five-game conference win streak, a feat which eclipses the College’s conference win total from the previous two seasons combined.

The run has put the Tribe in the thick of the playoff hunt, and presented the team with three possibilities heading into its final two games.

Win its two remaining games and the College will likely earn the CAA regular season title and ride a top-four seed into the postseason. Win one of the two and prepare for a possible home playoff game. Lose both games and the team will watch the playoffs from home.

The road to the playoffs will be far from easy.

The College travels to Harrisonburg Saturday to take on no. 1 James Madison University in the program’s biggest game in four years. A week later, no. 7 University of Richmond comes to town in a possible postseason play-in game. The Tribe has its work cut out for them.

First up will be the 8-1 Dukes and dynamic quarterback Rodney Landers. It has been over a year since an opposing team went into Bridgeforth Stadium and emerged victorious, but a hungry Tribe squad will attempt to end that mark.

“We’ve got seven wins. Now we’re trying to get number eight and they’re standing in our way,” freshman tailback Jonathan Grimes said. “It’s going to be a big game.”

In the Tribe’s regular season finale Nov. 22, Phillips and fellow captain senior cornerback Derek Cox face Richmond on Senior Day. A win will all but guarantee a playoff spot regardless of this week’s result. However, the Spiders will not go down easily. If the Tribe falls to JMU, and Richmond defeats a 4-6 University of Delaware team Saturday, the contest will likely decide the CAA’s final playoff participant.

Nothing is guaranteed. But Phillips and his fellow seniors have waited four years for this opportunity.

“We have two games right where we want to be and we can be as good as we want to be,” Phillips said. “It’s on us now.”


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