CSJ Sagarin 2021 NCAA FCS Playoff Projection-Nov. 14

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Using the Sagarin ranking this week, the following would be the field of 24 teams for the Division I FCS Football Playoffs. North Dakota State is the top seed, while MVFC mate South Dakota State is the second seed

James Madison is the #3, while Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington are the #4 and #5 respectively.

There are currently 11 conferences that get their champion into the field as an automatic qualifier. The remaining 13 positions are at-large selections. NOTE: the MEAC, SWAC, and Ivy League do not send their conference champions to the playoff field. The MEAC and SWAC non-winners of either their division or the conference could be selected so these teams were taken into consideration.

Below is a list of all 24 teams with the ones in bold and highlighted in orange as the automatic qualifier from their respective conference (again, using the Sagarin rating to determine that team). The teams highlighted in yellow and not bolded represent the at-large selections:

The seeds would be as follows using the Sagarin rankings:

1. North Dakota State
2. South Dakota State
3. James Madison
4. Sam Houston State
5. Eastern Washington
6. Missouri State
7. Southern Illinois
8. Montana

Below would the be bracket using fully the 24-seeds. No regionalization was considered for the 24-team field and the bracket was solely made by the Sagarin rankings.

Conference Breakdown with Number of Teams

Missouri Valley Football Conference5
Big Sky Conference5
Colonial Athletic Association2
Southern Conference2
Southland Conference2
AQ7 (Western Athletic/Atlantic Sun)2
Big South Conference2
Ohio Valley Conference1
Patriot League1
Pioneer Football League1
Northeast Conference1

I will create a weekly projection until the playoff selections are made on Nov. 21st and will take into account playoff criteria such as consideration for 7-wins (this week North Dakota, Northern Iowa, and Weber State falls into this category after both suffered a fifth loss so they can not get to a 7-win total despite being ranked in the Top 24) and will also take the automatic qualifiers when they are declared conference champions over what the Sagarin rankings show as the top team in a conference. Also note, this bracket would have resulted in to Southern Conference teams to play each other, which can not happen in the first round. Incarnate Word and East Tennessee State were switched in seeds to avoid this in this projection.

Automatic Bids Already Obtained

There are three conferences already that have automatically determined their champions. The following are these schools:

AQ7: Sam Houston State

OVC: Tennessee-Martin

Patriot: Holy Cross