Here’s the final FCS Playoff projected bracket from College Sports Journal.
In the FCS playoffs, there are 10 conferences that get autobids, 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 Heritage Bowl, a postseason event that’s separate from the FCS playoffs. What this means is that their conference champions play in the Heritage Bowl and not the playoffs, though second-placed teams could be considered instead,
A third, the Ivy League, chooses to not send its members to the FCS playoffs.
All conferences have determined their champions this week and they all have automatic bids to the 2017-2018 FCS Playoffs:
- Big Sky: Southern Utah
- Big South: Kennesaw State
- CAA: James Madison
- Missouri Valley: North Dakota State
- NEC: Central Connecticut State
- Ohio Valley: Jacksonville State
- Patriot League: Lehigh
- Pioneer: San Diego
- Southland: Central Arkansas
- SoCon: Wofford
- James Madison
- Jacksonville State
- North Dakota State
- Central Arkansas
- South Dakota State
- Southern Utah
- Sam Houston State
The biggest question marks CSJ feels in regards to the seeding is the order of the 2-4 seeds, and the reveal of who the 8 seed is.
11-0 James Madison pretty much, CSJ feels, needs to be locked in as the No. 1 seed, but after that there is debate on the order of the next three. 10-1 Jacksonville State, with their only loss to Georgia Tech, gives them the edge over North Dakota State, whose only loss came to a division rival in South Dakota State, while 10-1 Central Arkansas, whose loss was also to an FBS team in Kansas, had a weaker overall schedule than North Dakota State.
The biggest question mark came down to the No. 8 seed, which to CSJ comes down to Sam Houston State, Western Illinois, Stony Brook, or Weber State. In CSJ’s view, Sam Houston State’s 10-1 record cannot be ignored, with their sole loss to seeded Central Arkansas, over the other teams.
Rest of the field: Austin Peay, Central Connecticut State*, Delaware, Eastern Washington, Elon, Furman, Kennesaw State*, Lehigh*, Montana, Northern Iowa, Samford, San Diego*, South Dakota, Stony Brook, Weber State, Western Illinois
Last Four In: Samford, Montana, Delaware, Austin Peay
First Four Out: McNeese, Northern Arizona, New Hampshire, Monmouth
CSJ feels like the final four spots will come down to some very tough decisions based on some head-to-head wins: Montana over Northern Arizona; Delaware vs. Albany; Delaware vs. Stony Brook; New Hampshire vs. Stony Brook; and a couple of conference losses (McNeese vs. Nicholls; Monmouth vs. Kennesaw State).
The most critical game over the weekend, CSJ feels, was Samford’s win over Furman. That win likely propelled Samford into the field and knocked out one of the final at-large teams, while Furman remains in the bracket.