Now that the dust has settled and North Dakota State was crowned the champions of the FCS, let’s look back at the 2017 playoff field with a hypothetical scenario on how it’d appear if seeded 1-24.
Of course, it’s easy to look at a playoff bracket and say this is how it should've been seeded when all the games have been played. In the grand scheme of things, the playoff committee did a decent job considering the semifinals were made up of the No. 1, 2, 5 and 6 teams and the title game was between the top two teams.
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That’s the great thing about a 24-team bracket is that the best eight teams usually find their way to the quarterfinals and the best four teams play in the semifinals. It’s a true national championship feel. But still, only eight teams are seeded and the other 16 teams are placed wherever they fit best geographically. That means sometimes the ninth and 10th best teams in the nation play in the first round.
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So what would have happened if the 2017 FCS playoff bracket was seeded 1-24? Here’s what the playoffs could have looked like after taking this year’s results into consideration.
As a reminder, the top eight seeds were 1. James Madison, 2. North Dakota State, 3. Jacksonville State, 4. Central Arkansas, 5. South Dakota State, 6. Sam Houston State, 7. Wofford, 8. Southern Utah,
1. North Dakota State – outscored first three playoff opponents 135-26 before beating JMU 17-13 in the title game
2. James Madison – squeaked by Weber State in the quarterfinals and then dominated SDSU 51-16 in the semifinals before falling to NDSU
3. Weber State – played the national runner-ups the toughest as an unseeded team, losing 31-28
4. South Dakota State – rolled into the semifinals, but coughed up 10 turnovers in a 51-16 loss to JMU
5. Sam Houston State – put up big offensive numbers before being blown out in the semifinals at NDSU
6. Kennesaw State – in just its third year as a program, the unseeded Owls upset No. 3 JSU in the quarterfinals before losing by a touchdown against SHSU
7. Western Illinois – an unseeded team that lost in the first round, but nearly knocked off Weber State on the road
8. Wofford – a quarterfinal team that ended its season with a 42-10 loss at NDSU
9. South Dakota – had a chance to knock off SHSU in the second half of the second round game, but lost 54-42
10. Northern Iowa – dominated its first round win before losing to semifinalist SDSU 37-22
11. Stony Brook – won big in the first round, then fell to the national runner-ups 26-7
12. Southern Utah – the No. 8 seed that lost right away to Weber State, 30-13
13. New Hampshire – a quarterfinalist that upset No. 4 Central Arkansas as an unseeded team, lost 56-14 to SDSU
14. Furman – played Wofford tight early in the second round, but fell 28-10
15. San Diego – won a first round game against a Big Sky team for the second season in a row as a non-scholarship team, lost in the second round to NDSU
16. Jacksonville State – lost right away as the No. 3 seed to Kennesaw State 17-7
17. Nicholls State – lost a tight game in the first round to South Dakota 38-31
18. Elon – lost in the first round to Furman 28-27
19. Central Arkansas – the No. 4 seed that was upset and lost 21-15 in the second round by New Hampshire
20. Samford – lost 28-17 to Kennesaw State in the first round
21. Central Connecticut State – didn’t score a point in a 14-0 loss to UNH in the opening round
22. Northern Arizona – was outplayed in all four quarters at home against San Diego, losing 41-10
23. Monmouth – blown out by UNI in the first round 46-7
24. Lehigh – entered the playoffs with a 5-6 record, lost 59-29 to Stony Brook right away