This morning the FCS Playoff bracket was revealed. 24 teams comprise the field, with the top 8 national seeds getting a bye into the 2nd round. There are 11 automatic qualifiers along with 13 at large berths. We will start with the qualifiers of each conference, the 8 national seeds, and the match-ups of the 1st Round.
Conference Qualifiers (Listed in order of finish)
Big Sky – Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Montana, Southern Utah
Big South – Coastal Carolina
Colonial Athletic – Maine, Towson, New Hampshire
Ivy League – Abstained
Mid-Eastern Athletic – Bethune-Cookman, South Carolina State
Missouri Valley – North Dakota State, South Dakota State
Northeast – Sacred Heart
Ohio Valley – Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State, Jacksonville State
Patriot League – Lafayette, Fordham
Pioneer League – Butler
Southern – Samford, Furman
Southland – Southeastern Louisiana, McNeese State, Sam Houston State
SWAC – Abstained
1. North Dakota State (11-0) winner of the Missouri Valley Conference
2. Eastern Illinois (11-1) winner of the Ohio Valley Conference
3. Eastern Washington (10-2) winner of the Big Sky Conference
4. Southeastern Louisiana (10-2) winner of the Southland Conference
5. Maine (10-2) winner of the Colonial Athletic Association
6. McNeese State (10-2) runners up in the Southland Conference
7. Towson (10-2) runners up in the Colonial Athletic Association
8. Montana (10-2) third place finishers in the Big Sky Conference
1st Round Matchups
– Furman (7-5) at South Carolina State (9-3) – 1 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #1 North Dakota State (11-0) on Saturday, December 7.
– Bethune-Cookman (10-2) at Coastal Carolina (10-2) – 1 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #8 Montana (10-2) on Saturday, December 7.
– Lafayette (5-6) at New Hampshire (7-4) – 12 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #5 Maine (10-2) on Saturday, December 7.
– Southern Utah (8-4) at Sam Houston State (8-4) – 3 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #4 Southeastern Louisiana (10-2) on Saturday, December 7.
– South Dakota State (8-4) at Northern Arizona (9-2) – 8 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #3 Eastern Washington (10-2) on Saturday, December 7.
– Samford (8-4) at Jacksonville State (9-3) – 8 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #6 McNeese State (10-2) on Saturday, December 7.
– Sacred Heart (10-2) at Fordham (11-1) – 1 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #7 Towson (10-2) on Saturday, December 7.
– Tennessee State (9-3) at Butler (9-3) – 1 P.M. Eastern Time on ESPN3. Winner faces #2 Eastern Illinois (11-1) on Saturday, December 7.
1st Round Predictions
I will readily admit that I do not follow the FCS closely, but I do pay attention to the scores every week. Here are my picks for the 1st Round.
– Furman at South Carolina State – I think South Carolina State will squeak out a 31-28 victory and go on to face #1 North Dakota State in the 2nd Round.
– Bethune-Cookman at Coastal Carolina – This is a tough matchup for me to pick, but I think it will make for a great game. I will go with Coastal Carolina 45-41 and move on to face #8 Montana.
– Lafayette at New Hampshire – This game looks to be all New Hampshire and I expect this to be a blowout. I see New Hampshire winning 45-10 and moving on to play #5 Main in the 2nd round.
– Southern Utah at Sam Houston State – Another good matchup to be contested here. If this game is low scoring, it favors Southern Utah. If it high scoring, it will favor Sam Houston. I like Sam Houston State to win this game 38-30. That means they would face their conference opponent, #4 Southeastern Louisiana, for the 2nd time this year.
– South Dakota State at Northern Arizona – I foresee a defensive battle here and that would suit both teams well. I like Northern Arizona to just do enough on offense to win 20-17 and move on to face #3 Eastern Washington.
– Samford at Jacksonville State – This should be a competitive game from start to finish. I will go with Samford to go into Jacksonville and win 28-24. They would face #6 McNeese State in the 2nd round.
– Sacred Heart at Fordham – I like Fordham to prevail here at home. Their only loss was an inexplicable 27-14 game at Lafayette. I see them winning 31-20 which will set up a 2nd round game against #7 Towson.
– Tennessee State at Butler – This is a tough matchup for me to call. I can see both Tennessee State and Butler winning this game. I’ll take Tennessee State to win 27-24 and face #2 Eastern Illinois in the 2nd Round.
Enjoy all the 1st Round action of the FCS Playoffs!