The moon landing, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, the amount of Photoshop used in Kim Kardashian’s latest photo shoot and Brock Jensen’s jersey thief last year are just a few of many conspiracy theories that will probably never be solved. And if the FCS playoff selection committee has the same mindset as poll voters, Sunday may start the biggest conspiracy of them all.
That conspiracy would be how in the world North Dakota State didn’t get a No. 1 or 2 seed.
Alright, that lead is probably the most exaggerated in Spectrum sports column history. But many Bison fans got a nervous feeling in their stomachs after the loss at Northern Iowa two weeks ago. NDSU has since been ranked No. 3 or 4 in both FCS polls.
These polls are irrelevant when it comes to deciding seeds in the 24-team playoff, but it would be a shame if the committee looked at things like the poll voters.
The No. 1 or 2 seed is huge because it guarantees home field advantage until the FCS Championship in Frisco, Texas, and NDSU losing a playoff game at home is slim.
It’s safe to say the committee has a tougher task on their hands than Miley Cyrus’ public relations team. No matter how they decide the top-five teams, there will be some unhappy people.
You put NDSU in the top two and leave out Coastal Carolina or New Hampshire, people will say NDSU only got that seed because the FCS wants them back in Frisco, where the championship game would be a guaranteed sellout.
You leave NDSU out of the top two, people up north will point to East Coast bias and that the committee is sick of the Bison.
Poll voters ask,“What have you done for me lately?” You lose a game and you slide down in the poll. But the playoff committee looks at the entire body of work.
So let’s assume the top-five teams in The Sports Network’s poll win their last game Saturday. Here’s what the resumes would look like.
Note: This list is in the order of teams in TSN’s top five as of Wednesday.
With a 10-1 record, UNH would win the Colonial Athletic Association, a conference that is likely the second-best in FCS. The Wildcats’ only loss is against an FBS opponent, which the committee disregards as a loss. UNH has three wins against opponents ranked in the top 25 at the time, with its best win versus No. 10 William & Mary.
The Chanticleers are one of two remaining unbeaten FCS teams. But the problem is that their schedule is easier than a Kardashian or Miley reference. CCU has zero wins over a top-25 team and hasn’t had the chance to show what they can do in a big-stage game.
North Dakota State
The Bison are three-time defending national champions and had a 33-game win streak that recently ended. With a win Saturday against No. 20 Youngstown State, NDSU would have six wins over top-25 teams, including No. 4 Montana and a Missouri Valley Football Conference title. A huge resume booster for the committee is an FBS win, which the Bison have in a convincing victory against Iowa State.
With a win Saturday, the Gamecocks would finish 10-1 with the only loss coming at Big 10 member Michigan State. JSU has three top-25 wins, including a 26-23 win over Chattanooga, who is currently No. 9. The problem is the Gamecocks play in the Ohio Valley Conference and the strength of schedule factor doesn’t favor them.
The Eagles came into the 2014 season tabbed as the team that can possibly end NDSU’s championship streak. Their first loss of the season at FBS Washington did not hurt them. But when all-world quarterback Vernon Adams got injured, EWU suffered a shocking loss at Northern Arizona. With three top-25 wins in a tough Big Sky Conference along with Adams back, the Eagles are quietly prowling into the playoffs.
Looking at those resumes and the entire body of work, the seeding should not be difficult. If the committee looks at strength of schedule, FBS wins and quality wins, the seeds go like this:
Sorry Chanticleer fans, but even the most rational of you can’t argue. A No. 2 seed is possible. But NDSU deserves the top seed.
Being undefeated in the Big South Conference versus having one loss in the MVFC is like comparing a 4.0 GPA student in physical education versus a 3.8 GPA student in the pharmacy program.
The Bison’s one loss came against a scorching-hot UNI team. Albeit a bad loss, it comes nowhere close to questioning if NDSU had the best regular season in the nation.
But hey, Saturday’s games still need to be played. All top-five teams are favored to win, although crazier things have happened in November.
Sunday’s selection show on ESPNU will either be celebrated by NDSU fans or become infamous. The conspiracy theories will be flying if the latter occurs.