Top 25 rankings are made up of “what have you done for me lately” votes. If you lose, you drop. And it’s tough to rise if the teams in front of you keep winning.
The HERO Sports FCS Playoff Power Poll looks at the entire body of work to decide what the top eight seeds should be if the season ended today. Strength of schedule, Division I wins, FBS wins, wins against ranked FCS opponents and results against common opponents are some of the criteria taken into consideration.
Teams will slide up and down, appear and disappear, as their resumes strengthen or weaken throughout the season. After seven weeks of action, here is what FCS writers Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder believe the playoff seeds should look like today.
Brian McLaughlin's seeds
See Brian's projection of the entire FCS playoff field, including seeds, first round matchups and hosts.
Sam Herder's seeds
1. James Madison (8-0) – JMU adds its second ranked win, shutting out No. 17 New Hampshire 21-0. The Dukes amazingly haven’t allowed more than 14 points in any of their games this season. A couple more challenges await against Richmond’s offense and a very good Elon team who eyes a playoff seed.
2. North Dakota State (8-0) – A 30-14 win against No. 25 Northern Iowa makes it three ranked wins in a row for the Bison. And guess what? The remaining three opponents are all currently ranked. This week is an emotional Dakota Marker game at South Dakota State, the only team to beat NDSU in the regular season last year.
3. South Dakota (7-1) – The Coyotes face a lot of adversity this week after news broke of two defensive backs being arrested for second degree rape and attempted second degree rape. A third DB was also suspended indefinitely for his involvement. Nevermind two of these players were starters and one was a co-captain, when it’s this serious of a crime, it has to weigh some on the team. USD will need to avoid the distractions the best it can when it visits Northern Iowa this week and NDSU next weekend before hosting South Dakota State.
4. Elon (7-1) – Elon continues to add to its awesome resume. Its 19-14 win at Villanova gives the Phoenix four ranked wins. Their only loss is to an FBS opponent. I said last week that I expected this team to fall off, but they proved their worth once again against a good ‘Nova team. All of a sudden, Elon hosting JMU in the finally week of the regular season is more interesting than any of us expected at the beginning of the year.
5. Jacksonville State (7-1) – Not much to add for the Gamecocks from previous weeks. If they want to prove they are a top team in the nation, it’ll have to be in the playoffs. They’ll continue to dominate the Ohio Valley Conference and we’ll see if that’s good enough in the eyes of the playoff committee.
6. Central Arkansas (7-1) – The Bears made quite the statement last weekend, defeating No. 17 McNeese 47-17. That was probably the last major hurdle for UCA, who will end the season with its only loss to Kansas State.
7. Southern Utah (6-2) – This spot will likely come down to Nov. 18 when Northern Arizona visits SUU, which looks like it will decide the Big Sky championship. The Thunderbirds are 3-0 at home this season.
8. Illinois State (6-2) – The Redbirds get the nod over South Dakota State right now because of a much better resume. They shook off two early October losses and have defeated two ranked opponents in a row (USD and Youngstown State). The final three-game stretch is brutal for both the Jackrabbits and Illinois State. ISU plays WIU, SDSU and NDSU. The Jacks play NDSU, the Redbirds and USD.