The 2019 FCS regular season is over. Or, at least the games that impact the playoff picture are done.
As they have done since Week 1, Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder are here to predict what they think the playoff field is going to look like the night before Selection Sunday.
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 Brian and Sam think the playoff committee will do.
|4||Sac St.||Sac St.|
|PAT||H. Cross||H. Cross|
|Last 3 in||UND||SIU|
|Last 3 in||Kennesaw||UND|
|Last 3 in||Furman||SE La.|
|1st 3 out||Towson||Furman|
|1st 3 out||SE La.||SC State|
|1st 3 out||EWU||Towson|
- “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: Folks, No. 1 through No. 4 is a no brainer situation. Lead-pipe locks. My biggest surprise tomorrow would be if anything deviates from what Sam and I have above. We filled this out independently and then took a look at how the other guy viewed it. It was no surprise to either of us that we were on the complete "same page". After that it's an absolute crapshoot thanks to day.
My reasoning for UNI at No. 5? Hey, this is the No. 2 team in the MVFC who played the No. 4 schedule in the nation coming into the weekend (tops in Massey when it comes to the MVFC). Losses are to higher seeded NDSU and Weber State, and an overtime loss to P5 Iowa State … and one questionable loss to a wounded South Dakota State team. This is where I think I'll take the most heat. Now, In the No. 6 spot, why did I put MSU there? Well, because it potentially sets up a quarterfinal matchup of the Bobcats and Weber State, who didn't play each other this year. This matchup should NOT come any earlier than the quarterfinals, but it only makes sense that it should happen before we get to the higher rounds (geographically and financially).
Being No. 5 or No. 6 really isn't a massive difference in terms of the quarters. I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of the committee and to try to figure out their reasoning … and I think we're going to see this. I have Montana No. 7 because the Griz have had a good year, but they must be behind MSU after this weekend — which begs the question … did I really keep all four Big Sky teams seeded? Yes. Folks, they have the top three schedule strengths in the FCS nation, they played very well outside the conference back in September … on and on and on. Lastly, No. 8 was an insane debate. Who do you put here? I can't put Illinois State and South Dakota State here after this weekend. Yes, they both have injuries at quarterback … but it's really the results that warrant the bump down. They're both still solidly in the field, but they just don't deserve seeds. Central Arkansas beat a bowl-eligible FBS team, Western Kentucky (which I know the committee likes) and also beat another FCS conference's champion (Austin Peay). It did lose to its own conference champ (Nicholls) but I do wonder how a 9-2 considered team (this counts the WKU FBS win) will be viewed. I'm not saying UCA is rock-solid in … but today's craziness made some things possible. If they aren't in? I'd consider them one of the first left out of the seeding and they'll host a game a week from today.
Where's The Movement?: Geez, where isn't there movement? The seeding situation imploded after three or four weeks of relative stability. I had three rock solid seeds in my predictions (Illinois State, SDSU, Montana) drop a game, and another one (Sacramento State) nearly do it. As for the middle of the pack? Honestly not a ton changed here. After last weekend's results? I felt pretty strongly about Albany getting in, along with SEMO and Austin Peay etc. The bubble is the bubble. I'm not overly stunned by the programs that emerged, though I did think Maine and The Citadel would be in the discussion tonight but they both fell (they both had a good chance to make a statement).
My bubble teams as of this moment would be North Dakota, Kennesaw State and Furman, because I'm trying to follow the precedent of past committees here. KSU is 8-1 against the FCS but has a schedule strength that is weaker than anybody in the potential field. But I still think based on how the Owls stayed high in the rankings and hit 10 wins decisively the past two weeks that they'll be selected. And honestly? Their competition for these bubble spots isn't overwhelmingly better, maybe slightly. North Dakota's win over a seeded Montana State team is what puts it in … I wonder about Furman with its 7-2 record against the FCS and two 4th quarter leads against FBS teams. Will that matter? Who knows. The Paladins had P5 Virginia Tech on the ropes, along with FBS Ga. State the week after GSU had topped Rocky Top (the Tennessee Volunteers). But I could also see the committee liking Southeastern Louisiana … and hey, the Lions had a Hurricane potential quality win taken away from them against one of the MEAC's best teams, Bethune-Cookman. I honestly think SE La. would have hit 8 wins if that game had been played, and that would have been a strong opponent (anybody see BCU won the Florida Classic today against FAMU?). Does the committee show leniency here? I felt like they did with Elon losing the Furman game last year due to Hurricane. That's an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on. If I was a Lions fan, I'd pay attention tomorrow.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, CAA – 3, SoCon – 2, OVC – 2, Southland – 2, Big South – 2
Seeds – I feel pretty good about my 1-5 order of seeds. But after that? Not as much. Nova finished 9-3 against the FCS and deserves to be ranked. Central Arkansas is 8-2 against the FCS plus an FBS win. And I really don't know if four Big Sky teams will be seeded. But it's hard to find another decent seed-able resume with Illinois State and SDSU losing. Montana is 9-2 against the FCS with a win against Weber State. Today's MSU loss was ugly, but overall the Griz's resume is strong.
The field: Some notable teams to mention here. Wofford has a good argument for a seed as well, winning eight straight FCS games to finish 8-2 against subdivision opponents. But there isn't that quality win there. Illinois State's resume is solid with an 8-3 record against the FCS and a win against SDSU. But ISU's ugly performance in a loss today to YSU might have the committee keep them out. But I think the Redbirds are still in. For Kennesaw State, I personally don't feel the Owls have a good playoff resume. But again, this is us projecting what we think the committee is going to do. And KSU was ranked in the Top 10 of the Coaches Poll, a poll that the committee can use as a data point.
Bubble explanation: SIU's FBS win is going to be highly valued, I feel. Plus the Salukis had a strong showing overall against NDSU for most of the game. UND is 7-4 with a win against Montana State. I think that'll get them in. And SE Louisiana is 7-3 against the FCS and beat UCA. Furman is 7-2 against the FCS, but they don't have a better win than the 7-win teams in my playoff field. SC State is 7-2 against the FCS with an early win against Wofford, but I don't know if the committee puts them in over these other teams. And lastly, Towson is 7-4 against the FCS but I think its loss to Elon today bumps them out.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, CAA – 3, Southland – 3, OVC – 2, Big South – 2, SoCon – 1
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