Alright folks. The 2017 FCS Playoffs are here, and we know we're heading to the quarterfinals round now — the Final Eight. We've shown you the top FCS highlights, broken down the matchups, and previewed every game. It is time to get into the meat and potatoes of today's results and next week's FCS quarterfinal matchups. Read on:
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
2ND ROUND STRAIGHT UP: Three seeded teams are thinking about next year now. Welcome to the FCS 2nd round.
You know, back in August I was asked what I thought would happen this season in the FCS. My feeling? James Madison and North Dakota State were loaded and would be on opposite sides of the bracket, and the spoiler for either one of them was South Dakota State. I was hardly alone. Lots of people thought this.
Then the season wore on and I began to wonder about this and that. Is SDSU as strong as I thought? For awhile I thought no, after the Jackrabbits' offense stalled midseason. Was JMU the No. 1 team? For a few weeks I wondered if NDSU wasn't a hair better. But the bottom line now? We have two rounds of the playoffs gone now and I'm back to what I was thinking in August.
Today, two top four seeds played as expected — James Madison and North Dakota State. JMU and NDSU didn't just squeak by, they cruised — and that's the way it should be when you're a top four seed. Two other top four seeds fell to unseeded teams that nobody would have picked to be in the FCS quarterfinals back in August.
After the regular season and our first two rounds, my Jekyll and Hyde teams are Sam Houston State and New Hampshire. Both have had highs and lows this year, but they both were on the high end of things this weekend. But who knows what will happen next week? The lack of consistency is a problem, but both can do damage when playing to capability. But the FCS Playoffs aren't exactly a great time to mess around with that. Sam Houston State can certainly score points, and Jeremiah Briscoe is as good an NFL prospect as anybody in the FCS right now. New Hampshire has played pretty tough defense the past month or two. But who knows?
Kennesaw State is flat out making a name for itself. I keep looking at the Owls and what they've done this year, and I just keep nodding. And yes, I picked them to win their conference and be in the playoffs this year, so I believed in them prior to the playoffs — but I won't lie and say I thought they were a quarterfinalist (yet). They've found a system that works — the triple option with some serious defense mixed in.
The Owls have the state of Georgia to feed off of … and I think what we're beginning to see, since the demise of the Charleston Southern situation internally, is a program that is going to flat out dominate the Big South going forward. And Kennesaw continues to challenge itself in the seasons moving forward, out-of-conference schedule wise. Sheesh, to think this program is only three years old. Win or lose next week with Sam Houston State — and trust me, the Owls can win — head coach Brian Bohannon and his staff should all take a bow.
And Weber State? Hey James Madison, you have a serious call on line one here, Dukes? Do … not … sleep on this team. The Wildcats have the best special teams of the 24 FCS playoff teams, they played (by a mile) the best defense in the Big Sky Conference this year, and they avenged their only FCS loss tonight, convincingly. Their only other loss? A 12-pointer to a Cal-Berkeley team that also beat Wazzu, Ole Miss and North Carolina by about the same margins. Weber State was winning 20-17 at California going into the fourth quarter.
This is a good program, Dukes. And kudos to coach Jay Hill and the Wildcats. They're doing something special.[divider]
NEXT WEEK'S SCHEDULE
(all games ET to be released ASAP on ESPN2/ESPN3)
1. James Madison (12-0) vs. Weber St. (11-2), Fri., 7 p.m. ESPN2
2. North Dakota St. (11-1) vs. 7. Wofford (10-2), Sat., 12 p.m. – ESPN2
5. South Dakota St. (10-2) vs. New Hamp. (9-4), Sat., 3 p.m. ESPN3
6. Sam Houston (11-1) vs. Kennesaw (12-1), Sat., 8:30 p.m. – ESPN3[divider]
Kennesaw at Sam Houston St.[divider]
2ND-RD. RECAPS (Today's games)
No. 1. James Madison 26, Stony Brook 7 (RECAP)
No. 2. North Dakota St. 38, San Diego 3 (RECAP)
Kenn St. 17, No. 3. Jacksonville St. 7 (RECAP)
UNH 21, No. 4. Central Ark. 15 (RECAP)
No. 5. South Dakota St. 37, UNI 22 (RECAP)
No. 6. Sam Houston St. 54, So. Dakota 42 (RECAP)
No. 7. Wofford 28, Furman 10 (RECAP)
Weber St. 30, No. 8. So. Utah 13 (RECAP)[divider]