The last time Rhode Island made the playoffs, Ronald Reagan was the president, but he had not yet told Gorbachev to tear down his wall. Rhode Island's postseason drought is well-publicized. When the Rams cracked the FCS Stats preseason Top 25, Rhode Island fans had to have felt that this was the year the dreaded streak ended.
The season began with promise with a 2-1 start, with the only blemish being a 42-35 loss to now 4-0 Georgia State. Rhode Island looked like a lock for the Playoffs until this past weekend. Villanova solidified itself as a playoff contender with a convincing 35-9 loss to Rhode Island.
The Wildcats dominated the Rams, outgaining them 459-241 and racing to a 35-3 lead before a late Rhode Island touchdown added window dressing to a poor performance.
It seems counterintuitive to say Rhode Island should be in panic mode, but the rest of its schedule leaves little room for error. The Rams' two Ocean State rivals round out their non-conference schedule.
It is unlikely that Bryant or Brown adds much substance to Rhode Island's resume as the Rams would need either to win their conference.
More importantly, the CAA looks weaker than in most years. Only William & Mary, Delaware, Villanova, and New Hampshire look like bonafide playoff teams. Even William & Mary has failed to live up to their top billing thus far with lackluster performances against winless Wofford and Charleston Southern.
This can either benefit or harm Rhode Island. The Rams have a particularly lean CAA slate with games against Richmond, UAlbany, New Hampshire, NC A&T, and Towson. Rhode Island can easily finish their season with an 8-3 record, with the only loss in their remaining games coming to New Hampshire.
However, this scenario could make the Rams 0-2 in games against FCS Stats Top 25 teams. The best win on their resume would be against either a UAlbany squad I project to win six games at most or a Richmond team with the same amount of wins but a home loss to Morgan State. Depending on how strong the rest of the country is, this resume could leave the Rams on the outside looking in.
This may be a doomsday scenario, but there is ground to it. In 2017, Austin Peay went 8-1 against FCS competition, but an 0-1 mark against ranked opponents forced the Governors to wait another year for that elusive first playoff berth.
The dream of ending the nearly four-decade playoff drought is not over. Nevertheless, Rhode Island needs to take destiny into their own hands due to a weak non-conference schedule and the weakness of the CAA this year.