The 16-team NAIA playoff bracket was released over the weekend.
12 automatic qualifying bids were earned by teams that won their regular-season title and ranked within the top 20 of the final NAIA Football Coaches poll. The remaining 4 at-large bids were awarded to the next highest ranked teams who did not automatically qualify.
Defending national champions Saint Francis (IN), as well as Morningside (IA), Southern Oregon, Baker (KS), and Grand View (KS), and St. Xavier (IL) are teams that have all made appearances in the national title game dating back to 2011 that are all hoping to make another run at things this season. That’s 6 of the 16 teams in this year’s field that have been to the title game since 2011.
Since 2013, a new team has claimed the NAIA crown each year, with both Marian and Southern Oregon making two appearances in the title game.
See the full field of participants below.
Game 1 – Benedictine (KS) (9-2) at Saint Francis (IN) (10-0)
Game 2 – Concordia (MI) (9-1) at Reinhardt (GA) (9-0)
Game 3 – Sterling (KS) (9-2) at Morningside (IA) (11-0)
Game 4 – Southeastern (FL) (8-1) at Lindsey Wilson (KY) (10-0)
Game 5 – Dickinson State (ND) (9-1) at Southern Oregon (10-0)
Game 6 – Georgetown (KY) (8-1) at Baker (KS) (10-1)
Game 7 – Northwestern (IA) (9-1) at Langston (OK) (10-0)
Game 8 – Grand View (IA) (9-2) at Saint Xavier (IL) (9-1)
The parity at the NAIA level should make the NAIA playoff bracket very interesting all the way down to the national title game December 16th in Daytona Beach, FL.