Welcome to the HERO Sports FCS Mailbag. FCS writers Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder will take questions each week on Twitter and give in-depth answers. Tweet them both at @BrianMacWriter and @TheHerd215 to get your questions answered!
Note: Brian is sitting out this week as he deals with the hurricanes down south.
Are JMU and NDSU on a collision course for a rematch, this time in Frisco?
— THEsocalledfan (@GulsethMichael) September 10, 2017
Sam: I really do think so. All preseason and two weeks into this season I’ve said JMU and NDSU are the 1A and 1B teams in the FCS. I mean, that seems to be the general consensus all around the country as well. South Dakota State is very, very talented. Jacksonville State looks strong. Wofford will be lurking. And Sam Houston State may cause problems if the defense improves (it really needs to to give them a chance). But right now the Dukes and the Bison are in a tier by themselves.
This is forecasting quite a bit, but I fully expect JMU and NDSU to get the No. 1 and 2 playoff seeds. Of course, you never know with injuries. But both squads should make it through the season with one or no losses after winning their toughest nonconference games by a wide margin. I imagine the playoff committee awarding them the top two seeds even if a SHSU or another team is undefeated.
Even two losses should get NDSU and JMU a top four seed. Because, first of all, that’s going to be a helluva game and it’d be a shame if it happens too early. Second, can you imagine the atmosphere in Frisco/Plano and Toyota Stadium if these two powerhouses and their passionate fan bases met up? The bar owners might be able to retire after that weekend.
It would be the most anticipated three-week build for an FCS championship in a long, long time. And that’d be great for the subdivision.
Even with 2 dominating wins, JMU doesn't seem to be playing to full potential. How good can this Dukes squad really be?
— Sons of Bridgeforth (@BridgeforthSons) September 10, 2017
Sam: Most teams aren’t playing to their full potential during the nonconference schedule. The thing with the Dukes last season was they seemed to get stronger as the season progressed. A big reason for that was depth, which they have a lot of again this season.
With some new faces right now on defense and the receiving game, JMU is a work in progress. Yet the Dukes are off to a 2-0 start with dominating wins, one against an FBS opponent. So that shows how good this team can be if it continues to improve.
Is this JMU team as good as the team that rolled through the 2016 playoffs? That I’m not sure of. But the national title no doubt still goes through them.
Which Big Sky teams do you see making the playoffs after what we've seen the first couple of weeks?
— Grant Humphries (@Grant_Humphries) September 10, 2017
Sam: Yikes, not a good showing for the Big Sky this weekend, going 1-4 against MVFC teams. And the team that won, North Dakota, is heading to the Valley in a couple years.
Coming into this season, I felt comfortable saying at least four teams from the Big Sky make the playoffs. Now I’m not so sure. Does the playoff committee take a 6-5 MVFC team over a 7-4 Big Sky team now? I think so. The Valley has seven teams ranked in the Coaches Poll. The Big Sky has three.
UND has a chance to be seeded again this season. I don’t think Eastern Washington is a Top 10 team in the FCS, but the Eagles should make the field as the schedule lightens up and they find an identity. I was big on Cal Poly because of its favorable conference slate, but with an 0-3 start and workhorse fullback Joe Protheroe having a season-ending knee injury, I don’t think the Mustangs make it back to the playoffs.
So after EWU and UND, it’s up in the air who else makes the postseason. Montana hasn’t been impressive. Montana State is improving, but is 0-2. I was big on Northern Arizona with quarterback Case Cookus back, but the Lumberjacks are already 0-2 against two tough opponents and in a hole.
Weber State continues to be a solid program and looks to be the third team to make the playoffs.