With the FCS regular season finally at an end, it’s time to do one final playoff projection of the 24 team playoff field.
The FCS Playoff Committee has a pretty unenviable job this time around in trying to determine the playoff seeds. With a crazy day of upsets of Montana, South Dakota State, Illinois State and others, teams who looked like certain seeds suddenly look like they are going to be practicing on Thanksgiving Day instead.
Once again, a quick recap of the rules for the ability to qualify for the FCS Playoffs:
The field for the FCS Playoffs is determined at the conclusion of the FCS regular season, which is the Sunday before Thanksgiving (tomorrow).
There are 10 conferences that get autobids to the playoffs, the Big Sky, Big South, CAA, Northeast, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Pioneer Football League, Southern, and Southland Conferences.
Two conferences, the SWAC and MEAC, choose to send their champions to the Celebration Bowl, a postseason event that’s separate from the FCS playoffs. (Additionally, the SWAC also plays a championship game, and also have scheduled some games on Thanksgiving or beyond.) What this means is that their conference champions play in the Heritage Bowl and not the playoffs, though second-placed teams that don’t have Thanksgiving or later games could be considered instead.
A third, the Ivy League, chooses FCS playoff irrelevance instead of participation in the greatest Division I playoff system ever created.
Conference Champions/Autobid Winners
- North Dakota State
- James Madison
- Sacramento State
- Weber State
- Montana State
Next Teams Up: Central Arkansas, South Dakota State, Montana, Northern Iowa
Rest of the field:
Already at 8 or more D-I Wins: Albany, Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Central Connecticut State, Dayton, Illinois State, James Madison, Kennesaw State, Monmouth, Montana, Montana State, Northern Iowa, Nicholls, North Dakota State, Sacramento State, San Diego, Villanova, Weber State, Wofford
Currently at 7 D-I Wins: Bethune-Cookman, Eastern Kentucky, Furman, Holy Cross, North Carolina A&T, North Dakota, McNeese State, Sam Houston State, Sacred Heart, Southern Illinois, South Carolina State, Southeastern Louisiana, Towson, UT Martin
PLAYOFF PICKS: Albany, Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Central Connecticut State, Furman, Holy Cross, Illinois State, Kennesaw State, Montana, Nicholls, Northern Iowa, San Diego, South Carolina State, South Dakota State, Southeast Missouri State, Towson
Last Four In:
Southeast Missouri State, Furman, South Carolina State, Towson
First Four Out:
Southeastern Louisiana, North Dakota, Eastern Washington, Southern Illinois
A word here on the MEAC. As mentioned earlier, the MEAC sends its champion to the Celebration Bowl to face off against the SWAC champions. But there is an opportunity for a second-placed team to qualify for the FCS Playoffs if they are not invited to the Celebration Bowl.
North Carolina A&T won the invitation to the Celebration Bowl, but 8-3 South Carolina State is in our field, in large part thanks to their early-season win over Wofford.
Potential 1st Round Matchups
Holy Cross at Towson
Central Connecticut State at Albany
San Diego at Montana
Austin Peay at Central Arkansas
Southeast Missouri State at South Dakota State
Northern Iowa at Furman
Nicholls at Illinois State
South Carolina State at Kennesaw State
Potential 2nd Round Matchups
Austin Peay/Central Arkansas winner at No. 1 North Dakota State
Central Connecticut State/Albany winner at No. 2 James Madison
San Diego/Montana winner at No. 3 Sacramento State
Nicholls/Illinois State winner at No. 4 Montana State
Southeast Missouri State/South Dakota State winner at No. 5 Weber State
Northern Iowa/Furman winner at No. 6 Villanova
Holy Cross/Towson winner at No. 7 Monmouth
South Carolina State/Kennesaw State winner at No. 8 Wofford