Half of the automatic bids have been handed out with one week to play: North Dakota State (MVFC), Colgate (Patriot League), Kennesaw State (Big South), San Diego (Pioneer) and Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley).
Southeast Missouri State suffered the toughest loss of the week last week, losing on a last second kick return to Murray State which cost the Redhawks the automatic bid. Now they will sweat out selection Sunday to see if they made the field.
The biggest win of the week was Eastern Washington who easily outpaced UC Davis on home turf to all but sew up playoff seed.
With one week of games left before the selections are officially made, let’s take a look at this week’s top 25 and the playoff outlook for each of those teams.
1. North Dakota State (10-0 overall, 7-0 MVFC)
Last Week: Beat Missouri State 48-7
This Week: Vs Southern Illinois
Playoff outlook: THe Bison have all but clinched the #1 seed for the playoffs, ensuring that the road to Frisco for one half of the bracket runs through the Fargodome. It should be a long pregame ceremony this weekend to honor the volume of seniors that the Bison have on their roster this season
2. Kennesaw State (9-1, 5-0 Big South)
Last Week: Beat Monmouth 51-14
This Week: Neutral Field vs. Jacksonville State (SunTrust Park Atlanta, GA)
Playoff outlook: The Owls are the automatic bid out of the Big South for the second year in a row. A win against Jacksonville State will slot them in the seeds to guarantee home games through at least the quarterfinal. A loss to Jacksonville State probably eliminates any chance the Owls have at a seed due to their strength of schedule.
3. Weber State (8-2, 6-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: beat Southern Utah 31-18
This Week: at Idaho State
Playoff Outlook: The Wildcats are in position for the number two overall seed in the playoffs. To secure that, they need to win at what will be a desperate Idaho State team. Even with a loss to Idaho State, the Wildcats would probably slot into the back half of the seeds.
4. Eastern Washington (8-2, 6-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: Beat UC Davis 59-20
This week: at Portland State
Playoff Outlook: The Eagles should easily win their game this week at Portland State and look to be the third or fourth seed in the playoffs. It has been a great bounce back year for the Eagles after being left out of the field last year. Could this be the team that could challenge North Dakota State this year?
5. South Dakota State (7-2 overall, 5-2 MVFC)
Last Week: beat Southern Illinois 57-38
This week vs South Dakota
Playoff Outlook: The Jackrabbits look like the five seed is their ceiling this year, giving them home field in the second round and a bye. They could sneak into the top four depending on other results, but with their inconsistent play at times this year, the Jacks need to focus on beating their in state rival and see what comes after that.
6. Princeton (9-0, 6-0 Ivy)
Last Week: Beat Yale 59-43
This Week: vs. Penn
Playoff Outlook: Unfortunately the Ivy League does not participate in the FCS playoffs. It would be a great measuring stick to see where this dominant team would fall in with this year’s field. More importantly for the Tigers, a win this weekend gives them an undefeated season.
7. James Madison (7-3 overall, 5-2 CAA)
Last Week: beat Rhode Island 48-31
This week: at Towson
Playoff Outlook: With seven wins and name brand recognition, the Dukes are solidly in the field. A win over Towson would probably find the Dukes in the 6-7 seed range, while a loss would have them playing a tough opponent on the opening week of the FCS playoffs.
8. UC Davis (8-2, 6-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: lost to Eastern Washington 59-20
This Week: vs. Sacramento State
Playoff Outlook: The Aggies are solidly in the field, but they may have seen their chances for a seed go by the wayside last week in a blowout loss to Eastern Washington. It would be hard to imagine three seeds from the same conference with Weber State and Eastern Washington both ahead of UC Davis at this point. The Aggies will be a tough out for anyone this year no matter where the games are played.
9. Colgate (9-0, 6-0 Patriot)
Last Week: beat Lehigh 48-6
This Week: at Army
Playoff Outlook: THe Raiders have already clinched a playoff berth as champions of the Patriot League. With an undefeated FCS season in the books, Colgate could slip into the seeds. If they go to West Point and beat Army this weekend, the Raiders will definitely be seeded between four and six.
10. Jacksonville State (8-2, 7-1 OVC)
Last Week: beat Tennessee State 41-14
This Week: Neutral Field vs. Kennesaw State (SunTrust Park Atlanta, GA)
Playoff Outlook: The Gamecocks won their fifth consecutive outright Ohio Valley title after its win coupled with a Southeast Missouri State loss. A win for the Gamecocks this week would slide them into the back half of the seeds. If they lose, the Gamecocks will be playing (most likely) a home game on November 24th.
11. Stony Brook (7-3, 5-2 CAA)
Last Week: Beat Delaware 17-3
This Week: at Albany
Playoff Outlook: The Seawolves are solidly in the field of 24 after their win against Delaware. Stony Brook will be playing on opening weekend of the playoffs, probably on the road. The Seawolves defense gives them a chance to beat just about anyone.
12. Maine (7-3, 6-1 CAA)
Last Week: beat Richmond 28-9
This Week: vs. Elon
Playoff Outlook: The Black Bears are likely in the playoffs even if they lose to Elon to close the season. But a loss would put them right on the bubble. A win over Elon gives the Black Bears the outright CAA championship and an outside shot at the seven or eight seed in the playoffs.
13. Wofford (7-3, 6-2 Southern)
Last Week: beat Western Carolina 38-23
This Week: vs. Presbyterian
Playoff Outlook: Wofford can still win the automatic bid out of the Southern Conference if East Tennessee State loses to Samford this weekend. The Terriers are out of the running for a seed and will be playing a first round game, probably against a CAA opponent or potentially the loser of Jacksonville State/Kennesaw State.
14. Elon (6-3, 4-2 CAA)
Last Week: lost to Towson 41-10
This Week: at Maine
Playoff Outlook: The Phoenix are definitely on the playoff bubble. Their cancellation against William & Mary could haunt them on Selection Sunday. Elon definitely needs a win this week at Maine to make the field. It could be that their offensive injuries will be too much to overcome. At 6-4 it would be hard to see the Phoenix included in the field.
15. Towson (7-3, 5-2 CAA)
Last Week: Beat Elon 41-10
This Week: vs. James Madison
Playoff Outlook: The Tigers are going to be in the field for the playoffs. Even with a win over James Madison this weekend, the Tigers will not be able to jump themselves up into the seeds. A loss to James Madison moves the Tigers close to the bubble, but their resume should be strong enough for a spot. Look for the Tigers to open the playoffs on the road.
16. Dartmouth (8-1, 5-1 Ivy)
Last Week: Beat Cornell 35-24
This Week: vs. Brown
Playoff Outlook: Like Princeton, the Big Green will not participate in the playoffs as an Ivy League member. Dartmouth should get an easy win this week over Brown to give themselves a strong 9-1 overall record.
17. North Carolina A&T (7-2, 4-2 MEAC)
Last Week: beat Savannah State 28-12
This Week: at North Carolina Central
Playoff Outlook: The Aggies can still go to the Celebration Bowl if Florida A&M drops its game this weekend against Bethune-Cookman. A win for the Aggies and Rattlers probably gives the Aggies a playoff berth which would make for an interesting first round game against whoever they get matched up with.
18. Delaware (7-3, 5-2 CAA)
Last Week: Lost to Stony Brook 17-3
This Week: vs. Villanova
Playoff Outlook: With seven wins and five in the CAA, the Blue Hens are solidly in the field even if they lose their game to Villanova this weekend. The loss to Stony Brook all but ensured that the Blue Hens play on opening weekend. Historically Delaware bids well, so they have a great chance of hosting the first round.
19. East Tennessee State (8-2, 6-1 Southern)
Last Week: OFF
This Week: vs. Samford
Playoff Outlook: The Buccaneers can guarantee themselves a playoff berth by beating Samford and winning the Southern Conference. Even with a loss, the Buccaneers are going to be playoff bound with their seven FCS wins. They will be playing the first week no matter what their result this week with their potential opponent to be Elon or Jacksonville State.
20. Nicholls State (7-3, 6-2 Southland)
Last Week: beat Stephen F Austin 47-14
This Week: vs Southeast Louisiana
Playoff Outlook: The Colonels have an easy path to the playoffs; win Thursday night and they are in the field. A loss will have them sweating for the next three days until the brackets come out. Seven wins should be enough to get the Colonels in, but with the Southland being farther down this year than expected, a loss could work against them.
21. Indiana State (6-4, 4-3 MVFC)
Last Week: beat Illinois State 28-23
This Week: at Western Illinois
Playoff Outlook: The Sycamores have made huge strides over last season when they went winless. A win over Western Illinois could find the Sycamores in the playoff field. They would have seven total wins, but only six FCS wins. But they would be third in the Missouri Valley. A loss eliminates them from contention.
22. Southeast Missouri State (7-3, 5-2 OVC)
Last Week: lost to Murray State 40-38
This Week: vs. Eastern Illinois
Playoff Outlook: The Redhawks were 20 seconds from clinching the Ohio Valley Conference before they let Murray State returned their squib kickoff for a touchdown, handing the OVC crown to Jacksonville State once again. The Redhawks are still in good position for a playoff bid, but they will have to win this week’s game to gain a berth. A loss to a bad team will knock them out.
23. Incarnate Word (6-4, 6-2 Southland)
Last Week: beat Central Arkansas 40-27
This Week: OFF
Playoff Outlook: The Cardinals have clinched a share of the Southland title based on how the tiebreakers are done. A loss by Nicholls State put the Cardinals in the field as the automatic bid. If Nicholls wins, it will be hard for the Cardinals to be included in the field at 6-4. Incarnate Word also has a game on the schedule against Iowa State on December 1 if they miss the playoffs.
24. North Dakota (6-4, Independent)
Last Week: beat Portland State 17-10
This Week: at Northern Arizona
Playoff Outlook: The Fighting Hawks are a bubble team and will need to defeat Northern Arizona to be considered by the committee for a berth. The question is if the Fighting Hawks win, do they take a bid from the Big Sky against whom they played most of their games, or would someone else’s bubble be burst?
25. McNeese State (6-4, 5-3 Southland)
Last Week: lost to Northwestern State 37-34 (OT)
This Week: vs. Lamar
Playoff Outlook: THe Cowboys had control of the Southland Conference heading into last week before dropping their game to Northwestern State. They sit on the bubble and must beat Lamar to receive consideration for a playoff berth. Even with a win, the Cowboys could be left out of the field. Current projections show them still in, but barely.
Others receiving votes: Idaho State, San Diego, Montana State
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
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