I've been in Pittsburgh since Wednesday, ostensibly celebrating Thanksgiving by overeating, drinking tons of wine, and studiously ignoring both my in-laws and the cacophonous screeching of my kids and their cousins.
All that revelry is just a cover, though. I'm really here to scout the Duquesne Dukes, first-round FCS Tournament opponents of your William & Mary Tribe.
W&M returns to the postseason for the first time in four years, having tied Richmond and James Madison for the CAA title. Both of their co-winners received first-round tournament byes, despite the fact that the Tribe beat JMU head to head. Duquesne, champions of the Northeast Conference (which may or may not be a real league), makes their first-ever postseason tournament appearance this afternoon at 3:30 in Williamsburg.
Tribe senior defensive tackle Tyler Claytor previews the Dukes about as effectively as we could, so we'll let him tell you. "We don’t know much about them, they don’t really know much about us. That’s the beauty of the playoffs. It’s definitely something new, something different. It’s really enjoyable just having, hey, there’s a new team, new school, new group of guys we’re going to face. … There’s a little bit of mystery. It’s challenging. It’s intriguing.”
Based on my time spent on the ground behind enemy lines, I can also tell you that Duquesne is in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh, and has a pretty cool old church right in the middle of campus. Norm Nixon went there, as did former head of the CIA Michael Hayden, who's kind of a loudmouth jerk. Reason enough to get fired up to play these Dukes, as far as I can tell.
In what passes as small consolation, the tournament draw gives W&M an opportunity to get revenge on their arch rivals from Richmond in short order. The winner of today's game takes on U of R next weekend in the tournament's second round.
W&M's favored by 22 1/2. And after spending some time around the Duquesne program (I played golf within 20 miles of their campus yesterday, for example), I feel pretty good about our chances.
Bring on Spidey.