College Sports Journal Sagarin 2021 Spring Division I FCS Playoff Predictions–Apr. 12

Using the Sagarin ratings from this week to project the 2021 Spring Division I FCS playoffs, along with the automatic bid for the conferences that receive a bid, the following would be the playoff teams.  These teams are seeded 1 through 16 for the 16 teams that make the FCS playoffs for this spring season.

The actual playoff selections will take place after the spring regular season is complete on Sunday, April 18th. The first round playoff games will take place the weekend of of April 24th-25th and the playoffs will end with the final two teams competing in the national championship game on May 16th; in a game played again for the tenth straight season in Frisco, Texas.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference had its bid announced last week revoked due to the three teams participating not being able to play each other. This means there will be 10 automatic bids and below shows all of these conferences and the five listed schools in bold below are those that have already clinched their conference’s automatic bids. The five other conferences will know their automatic qualifiers following the last regular season games next weekend.

Big Sky Conference -- Weber State
Big South Conference -- Monmouth
Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA)
Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC)
Northeast Conference (NEC) -- Sacred Heart
Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) -- Jacksonville State
Patriot League
Pioneer Football League 
Southern Conference
Southland Conference -- Sam Houston State

There are two other FCS leagues typically but these two will not have an automatic selection this spring. The Ivy League has not historically participated in the playoffs and is also not participating in the 2021 spring football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the Southwestern (SWAC) Conference will only have its non-title game schools available for the playoffs as that conference’s championship game is slated after the playoffs begin.

After the now 10 automatic bid qualifiers, six additional at-large teams will be selected for this spring’s playoffs. This is down from the traditional 24-teams to shorten the spring schedule yet still accomplish the 10 automatic bid qualifiers.

Top 16 Rankings based on the Sagarin rankings and taking into consideration the top rated or actual conference championship team for each of the ten automatic bid conferences are highlighted in yellow below. The six schools not highlighted are the six at-large selection based as the best non-automatic bid qualifiers using the current Sagarin rankings. See this week’s full Dvision I FCS Sagarin Top 25 rankings with this hyperlink.

This week’s results excluded any school that has three or more losses and also looked at the tie-breaker policies to capture the automatic bids.

Last week, the NCAA announced that only the following locations would be able to host first round contests with a reduced number of these locations for the subsequent rounds.

Here are the 14 predetermined sites announced for the preliminary rounds:

  • Newark, Delaware – Delaware
  • Cheney, Washington – Eastern Washington
  • Jacksonville, Alabama – Jacksonville State
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia – James Madison
  • Kennesaw, Georgia – Kennesaw State
  • Orono, Maine – Maine
  • Springfield, Missouri – Missouri State
  • Murray, Kentucky – Murray State
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota – North Dakota
  • Fargo, North Dakota – North Dakota State
  • Huntsville, Texas – Sam Houston
  • Brookings, South Dakota – South Dakota State
  • Villanova, Pennsylvania – Villanova
  • Ogden, Utah – Weber State

Below is a look from a bracket perspective with the assumption that no regionalization of first round games would take place and all match-ups would be paired per seeds:

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