Welcome to the HERO Sports FCS Mailbag. In partnership with FCS Football Fans Nation, we will ask for questions with a post on their Facebook page every Sunday and our FCS crew of Brian McLaughlin, Chase Kiddy and Sam Herder will give in-depth answers with these Thursday articles. They will also choose the best question and discuss it on the FCS Podcast that comes out Wednesday mornings.
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Preston Adams – Could Maine be looking at winning an outright CAA title but not receiving a National seed?
Brian: I don't think that's possible, Preston. The CAA champ will get a seed, period. I'm not saying a Top Four dealio where they get to host a quarterfinal, but certainly in the No. 5 to No. 8 ballpark with a first-round bye. If Maine takes care of business this weekend, and I think they will, they deserve a seed and a Turkey dinner without a game 48 hours later.
Chase: I think if they beat Elon, the Black Bears are getting a seed. You're talking about a team that won a vicious league and beat an FBS team along the way. I don't know how that team doesn't get seeded, even if they did get an easier draw through the CAA.
Matt Petznick – Will the Missouri Valley only get TWO teams in?? #3 & #4 will only have 6 D1 wins. Or do you put 2 (6-5) Valley teams in before a (8-3) SEMO? I would think at least one (7-4) #4 Big Sky team is in, but if there are two at (7-4) does the BSC get 5 teams in? Does a (7-4) UND team get in over a 5th BSC or a 6th (7-4) CAA?? Or even a 2nd/3rd Southland team at (7-4)??
Sam: This is a loaded question! It's certainly possible only two MVFC teams get in, although I think the WIU-Indiana State winner has a decent shot at an at-large bid. SEMO barely squeaked by one of the bottom MVFC teams, 48-44 against SIU, earlier this year, but I think an 8-3 SEMO team who has a big win on JSU will get into the bracket. If you count UND as a Big Sky team, there can definitely be five Big Sky teams in. It depends who UND would get in over. The Hawks would get into the playoffs before Montana, but maybe not Montana State.
Caleb McDonald – If KSU and JSU play each other very competitive and close, could there be a scenario where both get a Top 8 seed?
Brian: I feel like a broken record when I say/type this every week … but it really depends on the rest of the field. If Jacksonville State wins by 2 and Kennesaw State is 8-1 vs. the FCS … and the rest of country vying for a seed tanks this weekend … maybe we see JSU at a 7 and KSU at an 8. Maybe?
Sam: Chances are low. As tight as the bubble is, so are the seeds. You can assume EWU, Weber, NDSU and SDSU will get seeds. plus likely two CAA teams. That's six. Colgate has a shot at a seed. So there may not be room to seed JSU and KSU. The best hope would be if JSU won, the Gamecocks are a seed. There is a slight chance at KSU still getting seeded with a close loss at 8-1 vs. FCS opponents, especially if Colgate isn't in the Top 8. But I'm not sure how likely that is.
Scott Moody – Which top 10 team gets upset this week?
Brian: I don't care for any of the polls out there, so I'll go with my Top 8 plus the First 3 I think are right outside of seedings right now. Colgate is my 8 seed and the Raiders have a tough trip to West Point to play Army, but some comparative scores are spelling this one out to be a good matchup. Weber State takes on a pretty solid Idaho State team on the road. The Towson-JMU game will settle a seeding spot, I think, and I have Towson at 7 currently, but I don't know that I'd call a JMU win here an "upset". It's kind of the same situation with Jacksonville State-Kennesaw State … I think this will be a good game and I don't know that I'd call it an upset if either team wins this. How's that for vague, Scott?
Chase: I'll give you two teams that should definitely be on upset alert. Because of its bubble status, as well as its we-just-lost-a-game-we-couldn't-afford-to pissed-off status, I think Idaho State is coming after Weber this week. The Bengals are going to feel a very unique kind of desperation this week, and I think offensively, they can challenge Weber State in a way that most other schools haven't this year. I wouldn't be surprised if ISU gets the win in this spot. I also think Stony Brook should be on alert — Albany has been the worst team in the CAA this season, but that's an intra-state rivalry that maybe people off the coast don't really know about. The Seawolves are Albany's SuperBowl this season, and SBU is in a let-down spot after the big win over Delaware last week.
Sam: Going off the STATS Top 10, I don't see any upsets happening. No. 7 JMU losing to Towson wouldn't shock anyone, so that's not an upset. No. 2 KSU vs. No. 6 JSU will be a battle, but it won't be an upset either way. And No. 8 Colgate losing to Army wouldn't be an upset. All the other ranked teams should win.
Matthew Fraase – Put it on Twitter. But I see NDSU and SDSU as locks at 1&5. If nobody loses out of these 5 where do Kennesaw, EWU and Weber end up in the 2,3 & 4 range?
Brian: Personally? I think if KSU beats JSU this weekend, as you're saying, Kennesaw deserves the No. 2 seed with an undefeated FCS record and 10-1 overall. Weber State deserves to be ahead of Eastern Washington because they played head to head and Weber State won. And I agree that SDSU is likely sitting at No. 5 because … well, at this point SDSU doesn't have a win over a playoff-bound team unless Montana State slips in with a Brawl of the Wild win this weekend.
Chase: I'd put Weber at No. 2, EWU at No. 3, and Kennesaw at No. 4. I feel pretty strongly about that, too. Both Big Sky teams have one top-10 win, and Kennesaw doesn't have anything in the same galaxy as that. Weber gets the nod because of the head-to-head, but if ISU upsets them this weekend, this gets a whole lot messier.
Sam: My order is the same as Chase's. Weber has the best resume. And EWU and KSU would have the same number of D1 wins, but I think the Eagles have better wins.
Joe Gasz – It has been a number of years since Delaware made the playoffs. I get the committee like to keep the travel down. How does the committee determine who gets a home game and who has to go on the road, in round one?
Brian: It's all based on $$$$, Joe. For the first round, the schools put in bids to host. I could easily see Delaware snagging a home game next weekend, that is unless they snag a first-round bye and seed (not likely).
Chase: There's a bid process. Playoff teams have the opportunity to pay-for-play, essentially. Historically, Delaware gets a decent amount of home games, and based on conversations I've had with Danny Rocco about the administration's commitment to investing in the program, I expect the trend of heavy bidding to continue. I'd be pretty surprised if UD was on the road next weekend.
Pat Wulfekuhle – With a victory over Montana St., are the Grizzlies in the playoffs?
Brian: Not necessarily, but they'd be in the bubble discussion and will need dominos to fall all around the country. Montana State, on the other hand, is a near lock to get in with a win this weekend.
Chase: I think it's going to depend on what else happens around the country. Montana has an up-and-down resume this year. They probably needed that Portland State game to really make this a slam dunk. At 7-4 with a win over Montana State, you can make a case both for and against the Griz, which keeps them squarely on the bubble. I would lean toward yes, but that's assuming Weber beats Idaho State, which is no guarantee. I'm not sure the Big Sky gets five teams in the field. It feels too top-heavy for that.
Sam: Montana State has the better path to the playoffs at 7-4 because Idaho State would be its biggest roadblock to getting in. But Idaho State might lose to No. 3 Weber this week, knocking them out of the playoffs. As far as a 7-4 Montana, it's a little tougher because the Griz's biggest roadblock would be a 7-4 UND team. I don't see the Grizzlies automatically in the playoffs if they win, but probably 50/50.
Collin Sutrick – Who do you think isn't seeded heading into the week but has a shot at eking it into the top 8 with a win this week?
Brian: Well, first I'll put who I have as the No. 5 to No. 8 seeds — SDSU, Maine, Towson, Colgate. Now, I think James Madison can snag a low seed with a convincing win over Towson this weekend, and we'll have to keep an eye on Colgate (going to Army) because that space may come available too. I'd keep your eye on potential 9-win teams if one of the top potential seeds falters. This would be a team like Jacksonville State or UC Davis or even ETSU. The committee may be looking for teams like those.
Chase: I think the easy answer here is JMU. The fact that they were ranked No. 2 a couple of weeks ago tells me that the committee wants them seeded/thinks highly of Mike Houston and his program because the resume just wasn't there. I think the win over Towson and a share of the CAA title would probably land the Dukes a No. 6 seed. Right now, I think they should play a first-round game.
Sam: The winner of Towson and JMU will get a seed. If JSU beats KSU, the Gamecocks are a seed. And Colgate is still lurking out there with an interesting FBS matchup at Army.
Matt Petznick – How about a fun hypothetical… If the Ivy League joined the playoffs, what seed, if any, would Princeton get?
Brian: Princeton would be my No. 2 seed behind North Dakota State right now, period. I haven't seen another team look as scary as the Tigers, and Kennesaw and Princeton both hung 51 points on a current 7-3 Monmouth team if that gives you any indication of where Princeton might fit in. Too bad we can't see them in the playoffs (I'm stuck on repeat on this point).
Chase: They'd be right there in the mix with Kennesaw. I think the average Ivy League team is probably better than the average Big South team, but Princeton would still have the same problem KSU does when it comes to beating out the other big boys. In my mind, Princeton's wins over Dartmouth and Monmouth trumps Kennesaw's win over Samford and Monmouth, so I would move Princeton ahead of KSU. I'd have to give some serious consideration to where the Big Green belong in the field, too.
Sean Blithe – Does KSU snag a 3 seed with a convincing win over JSU to potentially stay away from Fargo and the Bison until Frisco?
Brian: I'll do you one better, I can make an argument for Kennesaw State at No. 2 … but either way, the Owls would avoid NDSU in the semifinal round and we'd likely have a Big Sky or MVFC team heading to Fargo in mid-December for the final four.
Chase: I think KSU would probably need a Weber loss to really feel comfortable about snagging that No. 3 bid. I know Owl fans want Jacksonville State to be this big marquee resume win, but I'm just not sure the Gamecocks live in that neighborhood this year. This is a team that probably wouldn't even be in the playoffs if Murray State doesn't run a kick back against SEMO as time expires. The razor's edge is that thin. So KSU should definitely be proud of a win over JSU, and it should definitely give the Owls some confidence going into the field as a seeded team, but I wouldn't put that win in the same category as EWU beating UC Davis, or Stony Brook beating Delaware, or North Dakota State beating South Dakota State. JSU just isn't that team this season.
Scott Monson – Who are the best QBs in FCS?
Brian: Well, Samford's Devlin Hodges is 300 yards and change away from setting the all-time passing yardage record in FCS history, passing Steve "Air" McNair of Alcorn State and NFL fame. Seeing as though McNair was actually considered for the Heisman his final year, I'd say that says a lot about Devlin. He should break that record this weekend in his final game. Along with Devlin, you have to put Easton Stick. Because NDSU runs a more balanced attack, Easton doesn't put up the numbers that Devlin does, but Easton is just as legit. Taryn Christion at SDSU is another, as is UC Davis' Jake Maier. I think several others this year have faced injuries, like Case Cookus at NAU, Gage Gubrud at EWU, Trevor Knight at UNH, Davis Cheek at Elon. Bottom line? This is a very, very, very strong year for quarterbacks in the FCS.
Sam: My top three would be Easton Stick, Devlin Hodges and Taryn Christion.