FCS Playoff Outlook: My [Somewhat Biased But Totally Fact-Based] Take

Eastern Illinois is ranked #2 in FCS - Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

It seems like nobody is giving Villanova a chance to make the playoffs this year, and I don’t get it. I’m not expecting them to make it, but I suppose anything is possible with the expansion to a 24-team field. It is just very frustrating to see others including professionals post projections that include teams with much worse resumes. Maybe I am the one who is wrong, but most other 6-win teams have bad resumes with few exceptions, and they get consideration. Villanova is absolutely the best 6-win team in the FCS.

Here’s the playoff outlook at the moment with 4 regular season games left.


Eastern Washington (Big Sky), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Maine (CAA), Bethune-Cookman (MEAC), North Dakota St. (MVFC), Sacred Heart (NEC), Eastern Illinois (OVC), Lafayette (Patriot), Butler (Pioneer), Furman (SoCon), Southeastern Louisiana (Southland)

That leaves us with the 13 at-large bids.

The Locks

1. Towson- Obviously

2. NAU

3. Montana- Both had very convincing wins over bubble teams today and looked pretty good most of the season. I’d actually have Grizzlies seeded.

4. Fordham- With Nebrich back in, they looked like their team once again became fantastic. Can’t leave them out.

5. McNeese State- they defeated Lamar 42-38 over the weekend, but their only other two losses are to Southland Champs SELA and a rough early season loss to Northern Iowa before UNI lost every single scholarship player to injury.

Should Be In

(aka - Understandable not to include them, but I don’t see better teams)

6. South Dakota State (8-4)- They might have been out if not for an extremely convincing road victory today over Youngstown St.. It was looking iffy for a while there in the middle of the year, but they also have a win over Southeastern Louisiana, and they finished strong. An 8-4 team in the best conference probably won’t miss.

7. New Hampshire (7-4)- I guarantee I have them higher than most, but I did not think Maine was going to be beaten this year. They finished a strong 6-1 in their final 7 games. All 4 losses were against reasonably good teams on the road and none occurred at a bad time. The problem was that they lacked a real good win until today.

8. Sam Houston State (8-4)- The 8-4 record seems pretty good. However, 2 of these 8 wins came against programs in their first season of D1 play (Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist). A third is against a bad Texas Southern team in the worst FCS conference. 4 are against the bottom half of their conference. The only reason they are in is that 8th win. Though it was at home, that Eastern Washington win still looks very, very good. Today’s loss to UCA stings quite a bit. Still, looking back this may actually be high. 1 great win and 1 meh loss does not usually make a playoff team. This has more to do with record, conference strength, and especially name of the team. They could be lower.

9. Youngstown State (8-4)- I had YSU much higher until today’s loss to SDSU at home. YSU played nobody out of conference. They also have little momentum, losing their last three games including one to a floundering UNI team, and the trend actually started 4 games ago when they almost lost to mediocre South Dakota. Their best win is against 6-5 Southern Illinois by 1 point. However, as I said earlier, 8-4 teams in the nation’s best conference are not going to be left out. That’s unfortunate because our resume looks a lot better than theirs (as well as SHSU’s).

Final Four In

10. Tennessee State (8-3 + D2 win]- Ah, the token 2nd team from the OVC. OK resume. They beat Jacksonville State. They beat a reeling Tennessee-Martin. And they got absolutely crushed by 6-6 Eastern Kentucky. The other two losses are against their only two legitimate opponents, but at least they kept Bethune-Cookman close and lost by less to EIU than most teams.

11. Charleston Southern (8-3 + 2-D2 wins]- Very bad resume. They beat some of the worst teams ever until they finally played Coastal Carolina and pulled a gigantic upset. Should they be in? Absolutely not. But most people find it fun to cheer on the underdog. Nobody expects anything from CSU, but they started the year 10-0 not including the Colorado game, which was only scheduled due to the floods earlier in the year. However, these final two games have been atrocious. First, they lost to Gardner-Webb, a team with some decent wins until the wheels fell off in conference play, and then today they lost 56 (Fifty-Six!!!) to 14 against Liberty. They probably have no business getting in, but I would project that the committee like the gaudy win total including D2 games.

12. VILLANOVA (6-5)- Finally! If you’ve been following our team this year, you would realize that we have beaten some pretty good team. In fact, if you disregard W-L record, which should mean absolutely nothing, you would probably think that we are better than the 4 teams that I put ahead of us. However, I tried to be realistic. Even this seems way too high, but I want to believe that there is a chance. 3 of the losses (BC, Fordham, and Maine) should be completely excusable while UNH can be chalked up as a tough road game against what we now know to be a good team (and we kind of lost because they went for 2). JMU is not a very good loss, but on the other hand, it could have been a lot worse as you will see with some teams below. On the plus side, we have wins against top 5 Towson, bubble teams William & Mary and Delaware, and mediocre Stony Brook. I only throw SBU in there because that would seriously be some teams’ (considered to be on the bubble) 2nd best win. The lack of love solely comes from our win total. Other teams took a free win against the Pioneer League or MEAC and that somehow makes a difference. [/end rant]

13. William & Mary (7-5)- The nation’s best defense should absolutely be in the postseason. Good wins (against UNH and Delaware) but nothing fantastic. They really should have beaten Nova and WVU too, but I can’t take that into account. Tough loss to Richmond today makes this really close, but two good wins seems to be enough at this point, especially when you get a team that has such an incredible part to it like their defense is. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing a 5th CAA team being put in, but I don’t see a better option at this point. Can we get a waiver to take an Ivy League? Doesn’t matter even Princeton blew it today…

Bubble Out

1. Southern Utah (7-4 + D2 win)- They were not even really under consideration until they beat Montana State, a team whose wheels have completely fallen off, last week. They beat FBS South Alabama, but we are talking about the last place team in the worst FBS conference. (Georgia State DOESN’T count as FBS! They are a joke.) Working on the downside for SUU is a worse far loss than most others can claim. In their weak Big Sky schedule, they slipped up against UC-Davis. At Home. 21-3. Seriously. Apparently only in the Big Sky can this happen and you still are considered to be a playoff contender as you will see later.

2. Jacksonville State (8-3 + D2 win)- Isn’t 2 teams from the OVC enough?! Why would they subject us to a 3rd team? Well, with the 24 team field, JSU is actually on the bubble. They played a pathetic out of conference schedule. Seriously might be the worst in the country. They lost to the two teams that would make the playoffs from the OVC. They needed overtime to beat 0-11 Georgia State and D2 North Alabama, and they lost to 5-6 Murray State. The highlight of their resume is a tossup between a road win at UT-Martin and a 68-10 thrashing of 6-6 EKU. That’s about it.

3. Delaware (7-5)- The Hens hit the trifecta in the OOC schedule with wins against the NEC, MEAC, and Pioneer League! So incredibly impressive. Other than that, they also lost their final three games against 6 or 7 win teams in the CAA ending with a collapse against Villanova today (yay!). The highlight of their season was an incredible comeback against Towson, but that was also the last time they won. They barely edged out Albany, and their 2nd best win is JMU. Not too good if you ask me.

4. Northern Iowa (7-5)- Oh what could have been! Hit hard by the injuries, it is amazing the UNI is still in the race. Wins against Iowa State, McNeese State, and a 1 point loss to eventual three-peat champion North Dakota State all look incredible, but they are no longer that same team. The final started a 5 game losing streak (3 in OT). Illinois State and South Dakota are losses to teams with losing records. That’s partially due to the MVFC’s strength, but a team like UNI needs those. They sort of recovered at the end of the year with the win vs. Youngstown State, but is it enough? I don’t think so, but they have good wins among their 7. They should be strongly considered, but the injuries will be considered as well.

5. Liberty (6-4 + 2-D2 wins)- The second best 6-win team, Liberty won its final 5 games after a double OT loss to division champion Coastal (55-52). It was all topped off with a monster win against Charleston Southern today (56-14) that nearly kept out CSU if it wasn’t for so many bubble teams losing. Liberty made an impressive statement to the committee today, but their schedule included Kentucky Wesleyan, one of the worst D2 teams. They also lost to Richmond. Overall, it just seems like they did not do enough with an easy schedule. The only reason they are close is because of today.

6. Samford (8-4)- OK, secret’s out. I hate the SoCon this year. I am going to guess that the committee does as well, but who knows? It could easily be a three bid league based on historical reputation, but I have Samford as the best of the bunch, and they are this low. I’m not sure Chattanooga (in OT) or Wofford counts as a good win. The close loss vs. SELA might be the best they’ve got. They also lost to The Citadel (5-7). Nothing to see here, but another gaudy record vs. bad teams.

7. Southern Illinois (6-5 + D2 win)- I was really on the SIU bandwagon after the UNI win, especially because they have a lot of close losses to good teams, but Missouri State really killed their hopes. This is a very similar resume to Villanova, but there are very few good wins. South Dakota State is pretty good and then there is UNI.

8. Lehigh (8-3)- Lehigh is not bad, and in fact, they have two great wins at Princeton and vs. UNH; however, they also are the only team not to absolutely kill Columbia, and they played from behind in nearly every game. They barely beat Central Connecticut State. The Brandon Bialkowski injury should certainly be taken into account during selection. McHale is not a bad QB from what I’ve seen, but they needed Bialkowski to draw serious consideration. 2-2 with McHale at the helm including a 48-10 thrashing against Bucknell should keep them out for sure. Today was a must win, and they failed.

9. Montana State (6-5 + D2 win)- As I said earlier under SUU, it is absurd that the Big Sky is having terrible teams being considered, and I am sure that MSU is probably higher on the committee’s rankings, but I seriously cannot put them any higher. They’ve lost their last three games (albeit against decent teams) in addition to their FBS loss. Their only good win is NAU. This is the resume I was referencing with Stony Brook being a 2nd best win. Though without their starting QB, they lost to ridiculously terrible Stephen F. Austin (who lost to Weber State). Like Lehigh, they needed to win today and failed.

10. Central Arkansas (6-5 + D2 win)- Like UNI (and Nova), UCA has dealt with many injuries this season. The record includes a win against Incarnate Word (who is in their first D1 season) and a loss to bubble team Tennessee-Martin. They have also lost to Northwestern State. The only reason they are under consideration is because they thrashed Sam Houston State today, but that only slightly improves their lackluster resume.

11. Chattanooga (8-4)- Literally zero wins worth speaking of. Maybe Furman. They lost to UT-Martin in the OOC schedule like UCA. The 2 OOC wins combined for zero wins this season, and the SoCon is pathetic. Chattanooga should be nowhere near the field lest they want to be burned in the first round.

12. South Carolina State (8-3 + D2 win)- They have beaten 1 team with a winning record. Barely. There are, like a million (well, I guess 24) more deserving at-large teams. They lost to Bethune-Cookman, and that should be all that matters. That should have been a winner get the auto-bid game, end of story. SCSU lost. Now, go away.

13. UT-Martin (7-5)- They are only here because of their OOC wins against bubble teams, Chattanooga and UCA and the fact that they reached 7 wins. They also lost to in-conference bubble teams JSU and TSU while losing to EIU by 48 in their final game. They are a 4th team that suffered from tons of injuries. 7 wins from the OVC should never be enough.

Others in order: Richmond, Illinois State, Wofford, JMU, Stony Brook, Cal Poly, Missouri State, Eastern Kentucky, Gardner-Webb

All beat some bubble teams but also have lost some bad games and failed to achieve solid records. I would like to take this opportunity to just say how bad I think Wofford is. The SoCon is really, really terrible, and I think they are really, really terrible especially their absurd offense.

That is most of my thoughts. Thanks for reading if you made it through.

Go Nova!! Keep up hope for tomorrow! Our resume is incredible! We probably won't make it, but we earned it. There is no reason for us to be left out, but they will likely over-emphasize W-L record unfortunately.

(If this looks inconsistent, it is because I tried to add in some emphasis towards what I expect from the committee at some points, but not all, hence Villanova being in in this projection.)

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of VU Hoops.

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