If the FCS spring season ended today, James Madison would be the top seed in the playoff bracket.
The selection committee dropped its midseason top-10 on Friday, taking into account all games played through Sunday, March 28.
“The ranking provides a snapshot look at potential teams competing for top seed positions in the upcoming 2020 FCS Championship,” Missouri State AD and selection committee chairman Ryan Moats said. “As a committee, we’ve had robust conversations and look forward to the many football games left to play, along with additional discussions with our regional advisory committees, to continue to evaluate the teams that we feel have already built impressive resumes.”
1. James Madison (4-0)
2. North Dakota State (5-1)
3. South Dakota State (4-1)
4. Sam Houston (3-0)
T-5. North Dakota (4-1)
T-5. Weber State (3-0)
7. Delaware (3-0)
8. VMI (5-0)
9. UC Davis (3-1)
10. Murray State (5-0)
This season’s bracket has been slimmed down to 16 teams, leaving just five at-large berths. Games from fall will be used for seeding and at-large consideration.
Selection Sunday is on April 18, leaving just three weekends of action left in the regular season. But not quite for everybody.
Undefeated James Madison can’t manage to win a game
The No. 1 team in the country lost two opponents on Thursday when the CAA announced games with Richmond (April 3) and Elon (April 10) due to COVID-19 issues. Both issues were on JMU’s opponents’ side, which is better than the alternative, but still far from ideal.
James Madison does not currently have a game scheduled for April 17, meaning if nothing changes the Dukes would roll into their first-round playoff matchup on April 24 having not played a game since March 27, and just once in eight weeks.
JMU also had games with William & Mary and No. 15 Richmond, March 13 and 20, postponed due to virus issues. Those games have yet to be made up, and JMU has played just once since March 6.
As a reminder, the CAA split into two divisions for the spring season, and the 4-team South will play home-and-homes with their three divisional bunk mates. The Dukes have had both Richmond games postponed, and played William & Mary and Elon once apiece.
There is no CAA title game, the league will declare the team with the best overall conference record its automatic qualifier. Richmond is 3-0 in the South and Delaware is 3-0 in the North, and so if either or both squads manage to win out, James Madison could conceivably enter the playoffs later this month as the No. 1 overall seed, and as an at-large.
Unfortunately, James Madison is not alone
Whether it be a planned off date, a temporary postponement or because their opponent called it quits early, 11 of the STATS FCS Top 25 will not play this weekend, including five of the top eight.
The biggest headache is in the Missouri Valley, where No. 4 South Dakota State will not visit No. 2 North Dakota State, and No. 19 Missouri State will not visit No. 6 North Dakota. All four teams are 4-1 in conference play, and so rather than work the 4-way tie down to two, the logjam will continue.
As it stands today, North Dakota State would win the tiebreaker thanks to wins over Missouri State and North Dakota, but the SDSU-NDSU game has already been penciled in for April 17. The MVFC could make up the Missouri State-UND game by canceling the Youngstown State-UND game slated for April 17 and send Bobby Petrino’s Bears to Grand Forks instead.
San Diego playing for history
North Dakota State is on an unparalleled, decade-long string of dominance across the FCS, but not even the Bison have pulled off what San Diego is doing.
The Toreros host Davidson on Saturday, and a victory would be the program’s 40th straight Pioneer Football League win, breaking a tie with Duquesne (1999-06) for the longest conference winning streak in FCS history.
Longest conference winning streaks, FCS
39 — Duquense (MAAC, 1999-06), San Diego (Pioneer, 2015-present)
36 — Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley, 2013-18)
26 — Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley, 1992-95), Appalachian State (SoCon, 2007-10), Grambling (SWAC, 2015-18)
25 — Montana (Big Sky, 1999-02)
San Diego beat Presbyterian, a provisional PFL member, 24-21 on the road last week, but the victory did not count toward the PFL standings.
A win Saturday ties San Diego with Nebraska for the second-longest conference winning streak in FCS history and moves Dale Lindsey’s squad to within four games of tying Oklahoma’s D1 record. The Toreros can get to 42 this season, so the record-tying and record-breaking wins will have to wait for the fall.
Lindsey told the Associated Press he didn’t learn of the streak until recently and the team never talks about it. “Our focus is always on the current game,” he said.
Here’s the weekend slate for the STATS FCS Top 25. All games Saturday.
1. James Madison (4-0) — Off
2. North Dakota State (5-1) — Off
3. Weber State (3-0) — at Southern Utah
4. South Dakota State (4-1) — Off
5. Sam Houston (4-0) — defeated Northwestern State, 24-16 on Thursday
6. North Dakota (4-1) — Off
7. Kennesaw State (3-0) — vs. Robert Morris (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
8. Delaware (3-0) — Off
9. Eastern Washington (3-1) — at No. 11 UC Davis
10. VMI (5-0) — vs. East Tennessee State (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
11. UC Davis (3-1) — vs. No. 9 Eastern Washington
12. Jacksonville State (7-2) — at Eastern Illinois (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
13. Nicholls (4-1) — at McNeese (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
14. Murray State (5-0) — at Austin Peay (3 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
15. Richmond (3-0) — Off
16. Villanova (1-1) — at Maine (noon ET, FloSports)
17. Chattanooga (3-2) — Off
18. Southern Illinois (4-3) — Off
19. Missouri State (4-4) — Off
20. Incarnate Word (3-1) — Off
21. Furman (3-2) — at Mercer (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
22. Rhode Island (2-1) — vs. New Hampshire (1 p.m. ET, FloSports)
23. Northern Iowa (3-3) — Off
24. Idaho (2-1) — at Idaho State
25. Southeastern Louisiana (2-2) — vs. Lamar (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)