Well, there were a whole lot of “whoa” moments during the FCS Playoff Selection Show.
- JMU not getting a Top 2 seed.
- Jacksonville State getting the No. 4 seed over Weber State.
- The MVFC getting five teams in and taking four of six at-large bids.
- One-loss Richmond and Kennesaw State teams not even being a part of the “first four out.”
But the bracket is what it is, so it’s time to predict the dang thing from start to finish.
RELATED: Printable Bracket
One thing that makes sense about this bracket is the No. 1 seed got the most favorable draw. While a potential home quarterfinal game against Weber State will be a helluva showdown, top-seeded South Dakota State avoids JMU, UND, NDSU, EWU, and SHSU — all are on the opposite side of the bracket.
Really, all of the potential quarterfinal games will be tough for seeds. Delaware has a great shot to beat No. 4 Jacksonville State. No. 3 James Madison could face a well-rested North Dakota team. And No. 2 Sam Houston could see an angry North Dakota State team if the Bison get a home win against red-hot Eastern Washington in the first round.
The Bison have never had to go on the road for a playoff game since their run of national titles began. Now they will have to do it twice if they keep winning and the field goes chalk. For the first time in a while, it’s not NDSU vs. the field.
On the left side of the bracket (below), the Jackrabbits look like the most complete team in the FCS after a 27-17 win against NDSU in the Fargodome. We’ve been waiting for this program to break through and make it to Frisco. The Jacks have had ugly playoff exits that make us wonder how close they really are, though. With how they are playing and their bracket draw, they are primed for a national championship run.
I’ll take JMU to come out of the right side of the bracket. The Dukes have had two straight convincing wins after a shaky start. And don’t be surprised to see them host three playoff games with NDSU beating No. 2 seed SHSU. With QB Cole Johnson playing much better, the Dukes are the most balanced team on their side of the bracket.
My final Frisco prediction may change depending on how these two teams look in the first three rounds. And of course, if one of them gets knocked off. But right now, I have the Jacks and the Dukes meeting in Frisco with SDSU claiming its first FCS national title. SDSU has a play-making, dual-threat freshman QB in Mark Gronowski, the top RB in the FCS in Pierre Strong Jr., its best offensive line ever, good weapons on the outside, and a physical defense that can stop the run.
Sounds like a national championship formula to me.
* Indicates first-round host team