NDSU await Nicholls State-UND winner
After a fair dose of madness on the final day of the regular season, the FCS Playoff Committee had a difficult job on their hands. The final two seeds were up for debate as well as a large bubble. That led to some surprises to come out when the bracket was unveiled Sunday morning.
Unsurprisingly, the North Dakota State Bison claimed the No. 1 overall seed. The road to Frisco runs through the Fargodome as NDSU completed another undefeated regular season.
The Bison will play the winner of Nicholls and North Dakota. Nicholls State won the Southland this year while the Fighting Hawks were helped by a midseason win over Montana State to get them in the field.
With debate swirling about the No. 8 seed, the committee gave Central Arkansas the nod. The Bears finished with a share of the Southland title with Nicholls.
Southeast Missouri State claimed an at large bid and will host Missouri Valley school Illinois State for the right to take on the Bears in the second round.
Also, in the Bison’s side of the bracket is No. 4 Sacramento State and No. 5 Montana State.
Sacramento State takes their first trip into the FCS Playoffs. The Hornets were a big surprise over the season. They finished 9-3 overall and claimed a share of the Big Sky title.
Austin Peay claimed the Ohio Valley to secure a home game against Furman, who came up a game short in the Southern Conference. Winner will head to California in the second round.
Buoyed by a final-day thrashing of rival Montana, Montana State solidified their playoff status and flew up the rankings to claim the No. 5 seed. In a possible quarterfinal rematch, the Hornets beat the Bobcats in Bozeman, 34-21.
The Bobcats will get the winner of Albany, in their second FCS Playoff appearance, Central Connecticut State, the Northeast Conference champions with an 11-1 record.
James Madison rode an undefeated record against FCS opponents to the No. 2 seed, lining up the potential rubber-match between the Dukes and the Bison in Frisco.
Up first for the Dukes however is a conference champion, either Big South Monmouth or Patriot League Holy Cross.
South Dakota State held onto a seed after a loss to South Dakota on Saturday, holding onto the No. 7 seed. A bright side of the Jacks is that the loss likely moved them away from the Bison in the bracket.
That bright side gets shaded however with a possible first-round matchup with Northern Iowa. The Panthers will welcome San Diego to the UNI Dome in the first round.
Big Sky champions Weber State claimed the No. 3 seed, brushing off a loss two weeks ago to Montana. The Wildcats will get the winner of SoCon champions Wofford and Kennesaw State, a 10-win team with a weak schedule, forcing the Owls on the road.
The Griz fell to the No. 6 and will get the winner of Southeast Louisiana and Villanova. A rematch with Weber State awaits Montana in the quarterfinals, this time in Ogden, UT. The Griz thumped the Wildcats two weeks ago.
Perhaps the biggest surprise omission from the field is Southern Illinois. The Salukis fell to the Bison Saturday and did not beat a team in the playoff field this year despite a 7-5 record.