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 first few weeks will be projections. But as the season progresses and more games are played, this will turn into a "what the playoff field would look like if the season ended today."
The guys break down their seeds, first-round teams, the last three in and the first three left out in the table below.
|PAT||H. Cross||H. Cross|
|Last 3 in||The Citadel||Ill. St.|
|Last 3 in||SE La.||SE La.|
|Last 3 in||JSU||Elon|
|1st 3 out||EWU||The Citadel|
|1st 3 out||Sac. St.||McNeese|
|1st 3 out||SEMO||UND|
- “1-8” – The seeds.
- “NEC, PAT AND PIO” – The automatic berths for the NEC, Patriot and Pioneer conferences.
- “Non-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 of at-large teams 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.
This past weekend helped the playoff picture become clear as mud. There's still a clear divide between the top three conferences (MVFC, CAA and Big Sky) and the rest of the FCS. That's been made evident by the results so far this year. For our top seven seeds listed in my "take", the good news is they all have to play at least one of the other top seven seeds during the regular season, so we'll learn a lot about these elite teams as the season wears on. We have some great matchups coming up, starting this weekend, that will help clear this up even more.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams) MVFC – 5, CAA – 5, Big Sky – 4, Southland – 3, SoCon – 2, OVC – 1
Seeds – Towson moved way up in my seeds after a statement win against Maine, who moved into my non-seed section. I added Jacksonville State and Montana State into the seeds, not because I necessarily think they're both top eight teams in the FCS. But looking at their schedules, these two teams have a chance to be seeded if they win games they're favored in.
Where's The Movement?: I talked about the seeding movement above. EWU has moved to being a non-seed. Even if their playoff resume is not good now, their schedule is easy moving forward and the Eagles will be in the playoffs. Delaware, SHSU and EKU moved out of my field and SEMO and SIU are completely off of the bubble because of new teams emerging. Southeastern Louisiana has moved into the field after a strong showing against an FBS opponent and its win against JSU. Villanova has also moved into the field. The "1st 3 out" teams are all new in The Citadel, McNeese and UND. They still need to build up their playoff resumes as the season progresses to get into the field. Lastly, my pick for the Patriot League has changed from Colgate to Holy Cross. Colgate has really struggled and Holy Cross had an impressive win against New Hampshire in Week 2.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams) Big Sky – 5, MVFC – 5, CAA – 5, Southland – 3, OVC – 1, SoCon – 1
NEXT: Top 15 Favorites To Win The National Title After Week 3
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