Predicting the FCS playoff bracket is going to be as difficult as it’s ever been for the 2021 spring season.
The 24-team bracket has been reduced to 16 teams. The typical format is 10 auto-bids from 10 conferences and 14 at-large bids. This spring, there will be 10 auto-bids and only six at-large bids.
Only four teams will be seeded compared to the usual eight.
Fall games are included in playoff resumes. And while teams can play up to eight regular-season spring games in a 13-week period, the amount of games conferences are playing ranges from four to eight. A minimum of four games must be played to qualify as an at-large bid.
In short, there is going to be a huge imbalance when evaluating playoff resumes. Nonetheless, we will give it a shot and provide weekly playoff predictions.
RELATED: Sam’s Top 25 Ballot
- Selection Show: Sunday, April 18
- 1st Round: Weekend of April 24
- Quarterfinals: Weekend of May 1
- Semifinals: Weekend of May 8
- Championship game: Sunday, May 16 (Frisco, Texas)
These predictions take current playoff resumes and all future scheduled games into consideration.
These are playoff predictions and don’t reflect my current Top 25.
These predictions are through the eyes of the playoff committee and what I think they will do, not necessarily how I would field the bracket.
2. Weber St.
3. Jacksonville St.
Big Sky – Weber St.
Big South – Kennesaw St.
CAA – JMU
MVFC – SDSU
NEC – Duquesne
OVC – Jacksonville St.
Patriot – Holy Cross
Pioneer – San Diego
SoCon – Chattanooga
Southland – SHSU
At-Large Bids (Ranked from most likely to least likely to get in)
13. UC Davis
Bubble Teams Left Out
17. Murray St.
Explanations below, but a summary: South Dakota State moves into the seeds and the MVFC auto-bid while North Dakota moves to the at-large section. Sam Houston takes James Madison’s spot in the seeds as the Bearkats have a better resume.
North Dakota State and UIW slide in as at-large berths while leaving are Southern Illinois and Southeastern Louisiana. A new team in the bubble teams section is Rhode Island.
The game between SDSU and NDSU on April 3 will likely decide who gets the auto-bid and a seed. Right now, I put SDSU there because the Jacks have a better resume overall. SDSU has two spring wins against currently-ranked teams (UNI and SIU). NDSU has one (UND), plus an ugly loss against SIU. NDSU’s fall win against UCA does count on its resume, but I don’t know how much stock the committee will put in that W considering the Bison no longer have their starting QB, LT, C, WR, and RB from that game.
Weber State and Jacksonville State keep their spots, and Sam Houston gets the No. 4 seed with a 3-0 record and two ranked wins (SLU and Nicholls)
Last week, it made sense for NDSU to be on the bubble. The MVFC isn’t going to get four teams in, and last week at this time you had to have UND, SDSU, and SIU in over NDSU. With SIU getting smacked by SDSU and NDSU beating UND, that drops SIU to the bubble.
UIW takes the place of SLU with a head-to-head win.
Murray State and Rhode Island are close to making the field. I just don’t have room right now for the No. 2 OVC team or the No. 3 CAA team.