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 next three 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.
SATURDAY'S FCS HEADLINES: JMU wins 20th straight, on a collision course with NDSU
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, yet, 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).
OUT, BUT ON THE BUBBLE …
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The Griz now must win the final three games of the year, thanks to the loss to Weber State this weekend. That potential three-win streak would have to include a home win next weekend against the only undefeated Big Sky Conference team right now — Northern Arizona. Then there are two winnable games to finish the season. If the Griz are 8-3, they're in. If they are 7-4, they'll have to worry about what other teams are doing.[divider]
NORTHERN IOWA (4-4)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The Panthers are home against South Dakota this upcoming weekend, then play the two last-place programs of the Valley — Missouri State and Indiana State. There's a chance this program could finish 7-4 and in that situation they'd be a lock for the postseason. Even 6-5 doesn't rule the Panthers out thanks to strength of schedule, which we've seen in the Valley before. But for now? They need more evidence they belong.[divider]
AUSTIN PEAY (5-4)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The Governors are 5-4, 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 three weeks to finish 8-1 in the FCS and possibly secure the second Ohio Valley Conference playoff bid. If it happens, it'd be the first time in school history this program made the playoffs.[divider]
NEW HAMPSHIRE (5-3)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: Losing to James Madison (21-0 today) shouldn't knock you out of the playoff picture, but falling to a Patriot League team with a losing record (Holy Cross) hurts the resume a bit. The Wildcats are still very much in control of whether they play in to the playoffs, but they really need to prove themselves the next three games to finish 8-3, and even a 7-4 finish seems iffy for a playoff spot (ask Albany about that last year).[divider]
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The truth is, the past three wins over bottom half Southland Conference teams have been less than convincing, and giving up 66 points to Sam Houston State doesn't help either, but there are three winnable games remaining that could put this program at 9-2. Right now though, I'm convinced the Southland is a two-bid league (Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State if they continue to win). The Colonels can force a headache on the committee with that two-bid thing with 9 wins.