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||Elon||SE La.|
|Last 3 in||The Citadel||Elon|
|Last 3 in||SE La.||The Citadel|
|1st 3 out||Sac St.||UND|
|1st 3 out||SEMO||SEMO|
|1st 3 out||SIU||Idaho|
(*) – Non-seed automatic bid teams
- “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.
Hey NDSU fans … would you chill out? When are you all going to realize that when somebody who does their homework has you at No. 2 it means we’re saying you’re going to host the entire playoff run and end up in Frisco with a chance to win another title? Wow!
Nah, I’m just messing around with you all (kind of). The truth is, yes, I think James Madison is better than NDSU this year. Is that a crime? JMU has 20 starters back when you include All-American Rashad Robinson (who would have been a draft pick this spring but was injured in 2018). JMU dominated the line of scrimmage at 3-1 P5 West Virginia (172 to 34). On the flip side, NDSU has fewer than 10 returning starters and a new QB after four years of having an NFL Draft Pick under center. Does this still not help people understand?
My No. 1 won’t change until A) JMU trips up or B) NDSU survives the next five weeks without a blemish. But you know what? I don’t think the Bison survive the next five weeks without a blemish. The Valley’s elite make up four of the next five games.
As for the rest of the seeding … Villanova and Furman are the talk of the town right now. I think these two programs are truly crushing it. And hey, how can we trash UC Davis after the Aggies were down by four to the mighty Bison in their home-dome with three minutes left in the game?
So what did I switch out this week? A shout out goes to Central Connecticut State after truly having an FBS with two times the scholarships on the ropes at Eastern Michigan. CCSU had that game won but a blocked punt return by EMU with literally seconds remaining thwarted it. Much respect to CCSU. That Duquesne game is going to be a battle this fall.
And Sacramento State? I was aching to move you into my playoff picture this week. The Hornets are playing some great ball and had FBS Fresno State sweating late Saturday night. It’s just a matter of time, I think.
Seeds – My seeds remained mostly the same from last week besides adding Villanova and dropping Towson to the almost-seeded category. And do I necessarily think Jacksonville State and Montana State are the seventh and eighth-best teams in the country right now? No, but how their schedules set up makes me believe they’ll both be in the discussion for a seed.
Where’s The Movement?: Eastern Washington is the one team that left my playoff field. I still think the Eagles have a decent shot at the playoffs because the schedule isn’t overly tough. At the same time, Idaho manhandled EWU in the first half in a game many expected the Eagles to win. For right now, this team needs to earn the right to be called a playoff team. So which team entered the field? That’d be The Citadel, who I had on the bubble last week. Speaking of the bubble, North Dakota stays on there for now. I moved McNeese off of the bubble after a loss and added SEMO in along with Idaho.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams) CAA – 5, MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, Southland – 3, SoCon – 2 OVC – 1
Listen to the latest episodes of B-Mac and Herd’s FCS Podcast, which is also available on iTunes, Spotify, iHeart, Stitcher and Spreaker.
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast