So who is in the FCS Playoffs if the season ended after today's results? And who is on the bubble but just outside the playoffs, and of course who could fix the mess and get in the next two weeks? We take a look at the bubble teams and give you a feel for what they need to do to stick, or to elevate themselves.
THE FULL BRACKET PROJECTION – NOV. 4: Projected Bracket, Matchups, Seeds, 1st Round Hosts
FCS PLAYOFF BUBBLE: The teams that are in, barely
[divider]COMPARE: Any CFB Team | Any CFB Player[divider]
Right now it feels like there are two dozen teams in the mix for about 10 or so not-so-rock-solid spots.
NOTE: We don't consider automatic bids (Big South, NEC, Patriot, Pioneer) in any of the picks below, as we see them as one-bid leagues as of this week. That could change with the Big South beginning next week if two teams get the results needed (we're talking to you all, Kennesaw State, Monmouth and Charleston Southern).[divider]
OUT, BUT ON THE BUBBLE …
NORTHERN ARIZONA (6-3)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The Lumberjacks went from firmly in the playoffs to this? Are you kidding me? Well, the problem is the Big Sky Conference dynamic and the overall FCS dynamic. NAU has two games that can help it immensely after this week — home against a mid-range Big Sky opponent Montana State, and a biggie at one of the top teams in the league, Southern Utah. NAU's work is ahead of it. The problem is, now that NAU isn't on top of the Big Sky by itself for the auto bid, it only has one signature win when getting into the at-large debate — Illinois State.[divider]
ILLINOIS STATE (6-3)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The Redbirds are in a tough position after today's loss to Western Illinois. The biggest problem is that ISU was pounded by what appears to be a non-playoff team (Southern Illinois by 35) and also what could be a non-playoff team, potentially (Northern Arizona by 21). However, the Redbirds have two great opportunities ahead of them to fix this at South Dakota State and at home against North Dakota State. Win those two? You go from 'bubble' to potential seed. Win one? You're definitely in.[divider]
AUSTIN PEAY (6-4)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The Governors are 6-4, but three of those losses are to FBS teams and those results will be tossed out when it comes to committee picking time. But make no mistake, Austin Peay must be perfect the next two weeks to finish 8-1 in the FCS and possibly secure the second Ohio Valley Conference playoff bid behind Jacksonville State. If it happens, it'd be the first time in school history this program made the playoffs. Austin Peay has been an FCS/I-AA team since 1978, with no playoff bids. Think about that.[divider]
LONG SHOTS, BUT POSSIBLE?
Eastern Washington (5-4)
Monmouth (8-1) – (note, this is as at large)
Youngstown State (4-5)