Every week of action in the FCS shapes the playoff picture. While coaches and players will give you the cliche answer of wanting to compete for a conference championship, the long-term goal is always to set yourself up for a playoff seed or a playoff bid.
As more games are played and conference foes eat each other up, the 24-team bracket is going to change. But our FCS staff of Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder are going to make weekly predictions on what they think the playoff field is going to look like.
The guys break down their seeds, first-round teams, the last three in and the first three left out in the table below.
This is based on what the playoff field would look like if the season ended today and is predicted with the mindset of what the playoff committee would do.
|7||Ill. St.||Ill. St.|
|Near-seed-2||Mont. St.||Mont. St.|
|Last 3 in||Albany||Towson|
|Last 3 in||Towson||SIU|
|Last 3 in||The Cita.||Kennesaw|
|1st 3 out||UND||UND|
|1st 3 out||SHSU||SHSU|
|1st 3 out||UC Davis||The Cita.|
- “1-8” – The seeds.
- “NEC, PAT AND PIO” – The automatic berths for the NEC, Patriot and Pioneer conferences.
- “Near-seed 1,2,3” – These are 3 teams right on the verge of being a seed, ranked 1-3.
- “Non-seed” – These are the next batch teams that will play in the 1st round (in alphabetical order).
- “Last 3 in” – The last three teams we think squeak in.
- “1st 3 out – The first three schools left out of the bracket.
Seeds: My eight seeds don't change, but the order does thanks to South Dakota State's loss to Illinois State. My guess is head-to-head should settle some things this week and that's why I felt I had to drop SDSU from No. 4 to No. 8 and slide everybody from No. 5 to No. 8 up one spot. Remember that Weber State has beaten UNI and Sacramento State, Sacramento State defeated Montana and UNI knocked off Illinois State. That's the basis of my ordering behind NDSU and JMU, who are rock-solid No. 1 and No. 2 (though that could change in two weeks if Weber State is 10-0 vs. FCS with wins over UNI, Sac. St. and Montana.
Here's an interesting nugget, too: My eight seeds have a combined 17 losses. Five of those losses are to Power Five teams (JMU/WVU, UNI/Iowa State, Sac State/Ariz. State, Montana/Oregon and SDSU/Minnesota. Another four of those 17 losses are to Group of 5 FBS teams. So nine are FBS losses. Those last eight losses? They're all against teams seeded No. 1 through No. 8 on my list above. If that gives you a feel for this listing and how the cream has risen to the top? I don't know what would. We have our eight seeds right here, as long as they keep the slate's clean the rest of the way … but, SDSU does play UNI and Montana plays Weber State in the next two weeks, so much could change.
Where's The Movement?: Below the seeds, I moved Wofford up to a "Near Seed" but truly, if anybody drops in the current seeding realm I could see a SoCon champ possibly getting maybe a final seed — a much better chance than an OVC or Southland champ nabbing it (now that UCA's ceiling is 9 wins and not 10). SE Louisiana would be a safe at-large at this point, I think. That's a new name. Also, the two CAA teams (Albany and Towson) with potential 8-win finishes make the "last three in" category, along with The Citadel.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, CAA – 4, SoCon – 3, OVC – 2, Southland – 2
Seeds – Seven of my eight seeds remained the same and I did some shuffling due to resumes sticking out more than others. I like Sac State's wins more than Northern Iowa's, so I slid the Hornets ahead of the Panthers for right now. Getting QB Kevin Thomson back is key as Sac State needed two TDs in the final minutes to come back and beat NAU. Central Arkansas was my No. 8 seed last week and was blown out by SE Louisiana, so the Bears are bumped to the first round. Entering the seeds is Illinois State at No. 7 after defeating South Dakota State, who moves to No. 8. Remember, this is if the season ended today. I don't think we'll see four MVFC seeds when Selection Sunday comes. UNI and SDSU play this week to determine a seed.
Where's The Movement?: Four teams left my field from last week. Holy Cross was replaced with Lafayette as the Patriot League auto-bid with its head-to-head win Saturday. The wild part of this is Lafayette is 3-7 overall, but 3-1 in the conference standings. North Dakota and New Hampshire also left my bracket after losing and dropping to 5-4 overall, but both can certainly get back into the field with strong finishes and 7-4 records. And Sam Houston State also exited my bracket. This is a bit of an odd one as SHSU won last week. But I had to get SE Louisiana into my bracket after it defeated UCA. And UCA still deserves to be in the field. That bumped SHSU out for now while also considering that the Bearkats have a loss to UND. The other three new teams into the field along with Lafayette are Albany, Southeastern Louisiana and Towson.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, CAA – 4, Southland – 2, SoCon – 2, OVC – 2, Big South – 2
Listen to this week's episode of B-Mac and Herd's FCS Podcast, which is also available on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, iHeart, Stitcher and Spreaker.
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