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.
|4||Sac St.||Sac St.|
|PAT||H. Cross||H. Cross|
|Last 3 in||Stony B.||Dela.|
|Last 3 in||SIU||UNH|
|Last 3 in||Towson||Stony B.|
|1st 3 out||Monm.||UIW|
|1st 3 out||Albany||Wofford|
|1st 3 out||UIW||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: My seeding thoughts? Holy schnikies I'm out of sorts on this. I want to see the NDSU-SDSU game result … soon to be coming, and plus ESPN's "College GameDay" has added some spice to it. I also can't wait to see Weber State at Sac State and where the Big Sky goes from there. Wow, who would have predicted that, right? The CAA is a powder keg, but hey … the top teams are strong. We have five weeks to go and it's a nutso situation.
Where's The Movement?: I think the most significant movement is with the two Big Sky front-runners as of this weekend — Sacramento State and Weber State. We get to see them play in a few weeks, but so far so good — especially with how both have played defense. The Big Sky is known for its offense, but how about these two programs who have combined to play four FBS teams and still both have Top 20 FCS defenses, scoring-wise. Tells you everything.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): MVFC – 5, Big Sky – 4, CAA – 4, Southland – 3, SoCon – 2, OVC – 2
Seeds – Furman exited my seeds with its loss to The Citadel. The Paladins were my No. 7 seed last year and taking their place is Kennesaw State at No. 8. With teams like Furman and Nicholls losing, it opens the door for KSU to grab a seed. But I'm honestly unsure what the committee will do with the Owls' resume. Sacramento State moved to No. 4 after its big win against Montana, who moved down to No. 7. Everything else stayed the same.
Where's The Movement?: Four teams left my playoff field from last week: Austin Peay, Youngstown State, Jacksonville State and Idaho State. Entering the field is Chattanooga, who is the only unbeaten team in the SoCon standings and would have the auto-bid if the season ended today. The same holds true for UT Martin out of the OVC. Sam Houston State moves in with a big win against Nicholls along with Delaware after the Blue Hens knocked off New Hampshire. Wofford and Albany remain on my bubble from last week. I added Incarnate Word to the bubble. Technically, the Cardinals are tied atop the Southland standings with SHSU at 4-1, but I couldn't leave Central Arkansas out of the field, who's 3-1 in the conference and is 4-1 against the FCS with an FBS win. Then I also couldn't leave out Nicholls, who hammered UCA and is also 3-1 in the Southland and 4-1 against the FCS. Lastly, regarding the CAA having six teams in … it's hard to leave any of those six out right now. But I expect that to change by the time the actual bracket comes out. Six teams from one conference is unlikely to happen again.
Conference Count: (Not including bubble teams or 1-bid leagues): CAA – 6, MVFC – 4, Big Sky – 4, Southland – 3, SoCon – 2, OVC – 1
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