Welcome, America, to the FCSP’TID Cover Photo Curse.
Eastern Washington, UC Davis, Jacksonville State, and, last week, Montana State graced this space as rising teams that were all but guaranteed spots in the FCS playoffs after a particularly impressive win, or a gut-check performance.
And it seems like as soon as I pick them, they fall flat.
Eastern Washington and UC Davis were picked as seeds at one time, as was Jacksonville State. This week it was Montana State’s turn to feel the negative power of the FCSPITD endorsement.
Who will it be this week? Will it be undefeated North Dakota State, whom I’ve picked to win the Missouri Valley since, oh, June? Will it be 5-1 James Madison, who impressively saw off Villanova this week? Will it be Kennesaw State, who seemingly has played all rec teams this year?
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 FCS playoff irrelevance instead of participation in the greatest Division I playoff system ever created.
Projected Conference Champions/Autobid Winners
With Sacramento State upsetting Montana State at home, all of a sudden it becomes a three-team race to frontrunning status between 5-1 (2-0) Montana, 4-2 (2-0) Sacramento State, and 4-2 (2-0) Weber State. (Montana might have helped themselves the most by being on their bye week last week). All three of these teams will be playing a very tough schedule – additionally all three teams play each other – and it’s going to be a fascinating stretch run in Big Sky country. Quietly, to FCSP’TID, Weber State seems like they have a bit of an easier schedule, with Northern Arizona and fading UC Davis in back-to-back weeks until facing off against Montana and Sacramento State.
5-1 (1-0) Kennesaw State has once again “met expectations” by doing exactly as expected, beating the teams they should beat and narrowly losing to FBS Kent State. Last week they took care of Charleston Southern 45-23.
Colonial Athletic Association
What a game 6-1 (3-0) James Madison pulled off against Villanova (6-1, 3-1) last week, pulling away late after dueling the Wildcats to a virtual tie for three quarters. The Dukes are very much in the driver’s seat, with only surprising New Hampshire (4-2, 3-0) still undefeated in league play. The Dukes host New Hampshire on November 9th.
There hasn’t been exactly much drama so far, but 6-0 (2-0) North Dakota State just keeps proving again and again why they belong as predicted Missouri Valley champions, this week eviscerating 3-3 (1-1) Northern Iowa 46-14. In two weeks 5-1 (2-0) South Dakota State looms in the “Battle for the Dakota Marker”, in what will be a must-see matchup.
5-1 (1-0) Central Connecticut State continued their strong play with a 24-14 non-conference win over Columbia last week. They’ll be favored in their next two games, against winless LIU and 2-5 (1-1) Bryant.
FCSP’TIL is an Austin Peay believer after their 28-24 win over Southeast Missouri State last week. The 4-2 (2-0) Govs sit tied with surprising 4-2 (3-0) UT Martin atop the OVC. Austin Peay plays an interesting, tricky schedule ahead with Sargent York Trophy rivalry games the next two weeks (at Tennessee State, at Tennessee Tech) followed by always-tough Eastern Kentucky at Roy Kidd Stadium and then hosting the Skyhawks at home. Tricky, but doable.
If you have any idea who’s going to win the Patriot League, you’re lyin’. 3-3 (1-0) Holy Cross remains the pick. 3-4 (1-0) Fordham and 2-3 (1-0) Lehigh face off this week with the winner remaining firmly in the mix, while the Crusaders will play an out-of-conferene contest against Harvard.
Three teams remain undefeated in league play after 3-2 (2-0) San Diego handily beat 4-2 (1-1) Davidson 37-17 last week in South Carolina. 3-3 (3-0) Drake and 5-1 (2-0) Dayton are right there as well, but the Toreros still get the nod, narrowly.
4-2 (3-0) Furman was on their bye week last week, but they’re still the team to beat. Watch out for 3-3 (2-0) Chattanooga, who are sitting in the wings.
Another week, more Southland Carnage. This week, however, again, 4-2 (3-0) Nicholls stays alive at the top with a 45-35 win over Northwestern State. If (or when) the Colonels lose, there are a boatload of teams with 1 conference loss that enter into play.
- North Dakota State (↔️)
- James Madison (↔️)
- South Dakota State (↔️)
- Weber State (1 ⬆️)
- Furman (2 ⬆️)
- Sacramento State
- Villanova (1 ⬇️)
Next Teams Up: Nicholls, Illinois State, New Hampshire, Austin Peay
Rest of the field:
Albany, Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Central Connecticut State, Holy Cross, Illinois State, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Montana State, New Hampshire, Nicholls, San Diego, Southeast Missouri State, Stony Brook, Wofford, Youngstown State
Last Four In:
Youngstown State, Wofford, Jacksonville State, Albany
First Four Out:
Chattanooga, Incarnate Word, Towson, UC Davis
Potential 1st Round Matchups
Holy Cross at Albany
Central Connecticut State at New Hampshire
Wofford at Stony Brook
Austin Peay at Illinois State
Central Arkansas at Jacksonville State
Southeast Missouri State at Youngstown State
Nicholls at Kennesaw State
San Diego at Montana State
Potential 2nd Round Matchups
Austin Peay/Illinois State winner at No. 1 North Dakota State
Wofford/Stony Brook winner at No. 2 James Madison
Central Connecticut State/New Hampshire winner at No. 3 South Dakota State
SEMO/Youngstown State winner at No. 4 Weber State
Central Arkansas/Jacksonville State winner at No. 5 Furman
Nicholls/Kennesaw State winner at No. 6 Montana
San Diego/Montana State winner at No. 7 Sacramento State
Holy Cross/Albany winner at No. 8 Villanova