FCS Playoffs ‘Til I Die: I Know Nothing, So Here’s Another Bracket

If you want some solid evidence that I don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at my picks for the bracket this week.

Maine, a seed? Sure – until William And Mary made like Dikembe Mutumbo and said “No, no, no”, upsetting the Black Bears 27-20.

East Tennessee State, a seed? Talk about getting ahead of myself; this weekend, Wofford sank the Bucs 30-17, reasserting exactly who should be top dog in the SoCon.

Jacksonville State, unable to be dislodged from the top of the OVC? Enter Southeast Missouri State, who forced turnover after turnover in a crazy 37-14 win over the Gamecocks to add some extra drama to the title race.

I hate being wrong, and the Redhawks, Terriers and Tribe gave me a heaping helping of humble pie this past weekend, and this week I’ll try to redeem myself with better picks.

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.

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 to not send its members to the FCS playoffs.

Projected Conference Champions/Autobid Winners:

  • Big Sky: All 4-0 UC Davis keeps doing is winning, this week scoring 52 straight points against their “Shoe” Rival Cal Poly in a big 52-10 win. They are firmly in the driver’s seat and host struggling but dangerous Montana this weekend.
  • Big South: Kennesaw State comes off a bye week and saw Campbell lose to Monmouth 38-21. A conference game against Charleston Southern awaits the Owls this week.
  • Colonial Athletic Association: With Maine falling this weekend, it is ugly city in the CAA trying to determine the autobid. In all their are eight (!) teams with 0, 1 or 2 conference losses. It would be a little too easy to project 4-0 Towson as the CAA champions – they have a brutal schedule left with four teams that are all realistically in the hunt for the title. Instead I will project one-loss James Madison, one of the teams the Tigers play, as the champions.
  • Missouri Valley: Technically the MVFC title is still in “doubt”, but North Dakota State‘s win over Illinois State, paired with their wins over South Dakota State and Northern Iowa, would mean that the Bison would have to lose three of their next four games to lose the autobid, which, Virginia, ain’t happening.
  • Northeast: One of my few good conference champion picks has been my dogged determination to pick Sacred Heart, win or lose, to win the NEC. Their 28-25 win over Central Connecticut State puts them at 2-0 in the conference, and they can further bolster their title run if they can hold off 2-1 Bryant at home this weekend in Fairfield.
  • Ohio Valley: It’s a race! With Southeast Missouri State (4-1) upsetting Jacksonville state (4-1), and Murray State (4-0) unbeaten and still needing to face both the Redhawks and Gamecocks, the only thing that’s certain is that the OVC title race, once a simple JSU march to the title, is much more complicated now. I think the team that emerges from his is going to be Southeast Missouri State, thanks to the fact that they would host Murray State on November 10th and would hold all the tiebreakers if they win out.
  • Patriot League: Colgate is fresh off a bye week and will face off against 3-0 Georgetown, who dispatched Lehigh 22-16 in double overtime last week. If Colgate, as expected, beats the Hoyas, they could find themselves in a position to clinch the Patriot League title the following week against 1-6 Fordham in the first week in November.
  • Pioneer: San Diego pummeled Butler 42-13 last week to remain the favorite in the Pioneer Football League race. Two teams, Drake and Marist, are the likeliest teams to be able to dethrone the Toreros, and they both take on San Diego at home.
  • Southern: Six teams in the SoCon sit now at 1 or 2 conference losses, making it a hot SoCon mess as to who might win the autobid. Every remaining game, it seems, is pertinent to the title race. I liked what I saw with Wofford last week against ETSU, so very, very tentatively, I will pick them to win the SoCon, but it’s really going to be a week-to-week situation.
  • Southland: Speaking of messes… thanks to McNeese State’s 45-17 loss to Incarnate Word, five Southland teams have 1 or 2 conference losses, making it anybody’s guess as to who might emerge as the winner of the autobid. A critical game between Central Arkansas and McNeese State looms this week. If the Bears can knock off the Cowboys at home – and I think they will – they will be 5-1 in conference play and may see Incarnate Word slip.


Falling out of the seeding conversation is three different teams, again. Maine and East Tennessee State leave after one week in my seeding conversation and Jacksonville State, barely, falls out of the seeding as well for me, with two losses.

With that we welcome Wofford back in the mix for a seed, Eastern Washington, and in the eighth spot, Elon. South Dakota State, with their loss to UNI this week, fell but didn’t fall out of the Top 8 seeds in my mind.

  1. North Dakota State
  2. Kennesaw State
  3. James Madison
  4. UC Davis
  5. Eastern Washington
  6. Elon
  7. Wofford
  8. South Dakota State

Next Teams Up: Jacksonville State, Stony Brook, Weber State, Colgate

Rest of the field:

Colgate, Central Arkansas, Delaware, East Tennessee State, Jacksonville State, Northern Iowa, Idaho State, Illinois State, Rhode Island, Sacred Heart, Sam Houston State, San Diego, Southeast Missouri State, Stony Brook, Weber State, Towson

Last Four In:

Idaho State, Sam Houston State, East Tennessee State, Delaware

The most noteworthy team I have in here is Sam Houston State, whom I have winning their last four games and barely making it into the field at 8-3. One loss and they’re out, but if they win out, I think they’re in.

Idaho State is another fascinating team. If they go 8-3, with 7 D-I wins and a season-closing win against Weber State, I think they’re in. However if they go 3-1 to close the year with a loss to the Wildcats, they could be out, or at best firmly on the FCS playoff bubble. For now, tentatively, they are in.

First Four Out:

North Dakota, Delaware, McNeese State, Mercer

Here North Dakota is interesting. If they win out, I think they will be a tough team to exclude at 9-2, but right now I think they lose a game and are on the outside looking in.

All four of these teams are very much alive for the postseason, and if they keep winning, their chances will improve week to week.

Potential 1st Round Matchups:

Sacred Heart at Rhode Island
Southeast Missouri State at Illinois State
San Diego at Weber State
Northern Iowa at Delaware
Idaho State at Central Arkansas
Sam Houston State at Stony Brook
Colgate at Towson
East Tennessee State at Jacksonville State

Potential 2nd Round Matchups:

SHU/URI winner at No. 1 NDSU
ETSU/Jacksonville State winner at No. 2 Kennesaw State
Colgate/Towson winner at No. 3 James Madison
USD/WSU winner at No. 4 UC Davis
Idaho State/UCA winner at No. 5 Eastern Washington
SHSU/Stony Brook winner at No. 6 Elon
SEMI/Illinois State winner at No. 7 Wofford
UNI/Delaware winner at No. 8 SDSU