A few FCS playoff thoughts before North Dakota State takes on South Dakota in the Bison's regular-season finale later today at the Fargodome:
We know NDSU has clinched the automatic bid from the Missouri Valley Conference. If the Bison win today, they will lock up (although I think they already deserve it win or lose today) the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs. The road to Frisco, Texas, will again travel through the Fargodome.
The NDSU Bison have won the last two FCS national titles.
Of interest to Bison fans will be the MVFC game today in Youngstown, Ohio, between Youngstown State (8-3) and South Dakota State (7-4). Even though the MVFC is the top-ranked league in FCS, it seems most likely only one of these teams will be selected for the 24-team playoff field. If Youngstown wins, the Penguins are in for sure. If SDSU wins, they would be in for sure. The question would be: If the Jackrabbits win, would the Penguins still be selected for the playoffs at 8-4?
History says there is a chance. In 28 previous seasons, 53 MVFC teams have had eight or more regular-season wins, and all but five made the playoffs: Northern Iowa (in 1989 and 1999), Western Illinois (1994) and Youngstown State (2001 and 2005) are the only MVFC teams to win eight and not make the field.
This year's Youngstown State team is different because it started 8-1, but a loss to the Jackrabbits would mean the Penguins lost three straight to end the season. It would also mean the Penguins didn't record any "quality" wins. My belief is the Penguins wouldn't make the playoff field if they lose to the Jackrabbits.
Here is another factoid: In 28 previous MVFC seasons, only four league teams with three or more conference losses got into the NCAA playoff field.
The web site www.saturdayblitz.com has the following bracketology going into today's games :
Automatic-Bids (* = playoff bid clinched):
Big Sky: Eastern Washington*
Big South: Coastal Carolina
Missouri Valley: North Dakota State*
Northeastern: Sacred Heart*
Ohio Valley: Eastern Illinois*
Southland: Southeastern Louisiana*
Big Sky: Montana, Northern Arizona, Southern Utah
Big South: Charleston Southern
Colonial: Delaware, Towson, William & Mary
Missouri Valley: Youngstown State
Ohio Valley: Tennessee State
Southland: McNeese State, Sam Houston State
Still in contention: Chattanooga, Jacksonville State, Lafayette, Montana State, New Hampshire, Northern Iowa, South Carolina State, South Dakota State, Tennessee-Martin.
The web site www.sportsnetwork.com has the following projected bracketology going into today's games . Much can change, of course, depending on the outcome of today's games:
FIRST ROUND (Saturday, Nov. 30)
Tennessee State at Montana State
Charleston Southern at Furman
Bethune-Cookman at Coastal Carolina
Butler or Marist at Fordham
Sacred Heart at William and Mary
South Dakota State at Montana
Lehigh at Sam Houston State
SECOND ROUND (Saturday, Dec. 7)
Tennessee State/Montana State winner at North Dakota State
Charleston Southern/Furman winner at Northern Arizona
Bethune-Cookman/Coastal Carolina winner at Southeast Louisiana
Butler or Marist/Fordham winner at Maine
Sacred Heart/William and Mary winner at Eastern Washington
Samford/South Carolina State winner at Towson
South Dakota State/Montana winner at McNeese State
Lehigh/Sam Houston State winner at Eastern Illinois
Also, my friends at Forum Communications Jeff Kolpack of The Forum and Dom Izzo of WDAY-TV do a good job of breaking down their bracketology projections with this video :
The NCAA selection show is Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Central on ESPNU.
(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)