To figure out how to get a Top 25 poll out of 125 FCS teams is usually predicated on overall records and name recognition. To figure out how to form a 24-team postseason bracket with a smaller number of eligible teams is even tougher, and is heavily factored by what we in the biz like to call "playoff resumes."
There are a lot of overrated teams right now in the polls. There's also plenty of underappreciated ones. North Dakota falls into the underappreciated category.
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At 5-2, UND is No. 22 in the STATS media poll and No. 24 in the coaches poll. At the end of the day, these polls don't matter. What matters is how the playoff committee views UND's resume.
Which is why Saturday's home game against No. 4/5 Weber State is so important.
UND's resume right now is overlooked by many. And it really shouldn't be. The Fighting Hawks are 5-1 against FCS opponents. The lone loss came against Idaho State, a potential playoff team. Key wins include ranked opponents (at the time) No. 5 Sam Houston State on the road and a 41-14 shellacking against No. 22 Montana.
The problem is those wins are not aging well. SHSU is no longer an FCS power, is ranked in the 20s and could be left out of the postseason with two losses in the Southland Conference. Montana is out of the Top 25 with its season in a tailspin. Even Idaho State is on a two-game losing streak and at 4-3 with tough games ahead, may not be a playoff team.
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COMPARE: UND vs. Weber
With UND's last three games coming against Idaho, Portland State and Northern Arizona, Weber could end up being the only playoff team on its schedule.
Win or lose against Weber, the Fighting Hawks still should have a good chance to make the playoffs at 8-3. But a win here solidifies UND as a legitimate threat in the FCS and could even secure a seed, barring any upsets to end the season.
Quality wins matter. The Fighting Hawks have a couple under their belt, but unfortunately, SHSU and Montana might not be doing them any favors as the season progresses. It's a game-by-game mentality in Grand Forks. But it can't be understated how big the long-term implications are for this Weber game.