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 half of the season 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.
|8||Ill. St.||Sac St.|
|PAT||H. Cross||H. Cross|
|Near-seed-2||Sac. St.||Mont. St.|
|Non-seed||Austin Peay||Austin Peay|
|Non-seed||Mont. St.||Stony B.|
|Last 3 in||JSU||Elon|
|Last 3 in||Stony B.||JSU|
|Last 3 in||Towson||Idaho St.|
|1st 3 out||Monmouth||Towson|
|1st 3 out||Albany||Wofford|
|1st 3 out||Idaho St.||Albany|
- “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: The lone seeding movement came at No. 7 and No. 8, the rest stayed the same (and yes, I didn't drop Villanova — the Wildcats' performance at James Madison was very impressive, this is a good team). I dropped Montana State from a seed to an at-large, and bumped Illinois State back into the No. 8 spot after its win over Southern Illinois, as well as bumping Weber State from No. 8 to No. 7.
Where's The Movement?: The lower part of the playoff outlook changes drastically every week, it seems. You go back and forth about teams like Jacksonville State and Towson, who you know are capable of making a run through their schedules, but have been up and down. For this week, the big jump came from Austin Peay in the Ohio Valley Conference. While UT Martin is 3-0 in the OVC and APSU is 2-0, the Govs have beaten the two teams that qualified for the playoffs last year out of the OVC — SEMO this past week and Jacksonville State prior. The Govs are playing great football under first-year Mark Hudspeth, who has seen a lot of success at other places. UT Martin is a team to keep an eye on moving forward. Wofford moved in, even without playing this past weekend, because its four-game weekend is a strong resume on paper than several of its competitors for a spot in this. This will all probably change a ton after this weekend, folks, so stay tuned …
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): CAA – 5, MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, Southland – 2, SoCon – 2, OVC – 2
Seeds – Not only did Towson move out of my seeds, the Tigers are on the bubble this week after a disastrous loss to Albany. They were my No. 5 seed last week. Montana moved up from No. 6 to the No. 4 seed and Villanova went from No. 4 to No. 5. Weber State moved into the seeds and Sacramento State took Montana State's spot in the seedings.
Where's The Movement?: For the first-round teams, four teams were bumped from the field after a chaotic week, making it five total including Towson. Delaware, SEMO, UND and SHSU all lost and don't have playoff resumes right now. New to the field is Austin Peay, who has beaten SEMO and Jacksonville State and are the front-runners for the OVC auto-bid. I also put Jacksonville State back into the field. I don't feel overly confident about this, but at this point in the season, the Gamecocks are in if they go on a decent run. New Hampshire, Elon, and Idaho State are also in the bracket now after solid wins.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues) CAA – 5, MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 5, Southland – 2, OVC – 2, SoCon – 1
NEXT: Top 15 National Title Favorites After Week 7
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