Skip to main content
Publish date:

Who's in and who's out heading into FCS Selection Sunday?

A look at where things stand in FCS heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

The playoff fields are set in Division II, Division III and NAIA, and FBS is still three weeks away from setting theirs. This week, it's the FCS's turn in the spotlight.

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, we scanned FCS bracketology sites (yes, they exist) to give you the lay of the land in each conference.

As a reminder, this will be the first 24-team field since 2019, with the winner crowned Jan. 8 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. North Dakota State has won the last three fall national titles, but Sam Houston is the defending national champion, having knocked off South Dakota State for the 2020-21 national title in May.

This appears to be the most wide-open field in years, and one of the last of its kind, with Sam Houston, James Madison and others moving up to FBS after the 2022 season.

By my count, we've got 22 teams feeling good about where they stand heading into Selection Sunday and a mad scramble for the remaining two spots. 

Let's dig in.

Atlantic Sun/WAC 
IN: Sam Houston
ON THE BUBBLE: Stephen F. Austin, Eastern Kentucky

It says everything about the state of things in the FCS that this entity that didn't exist a year ago, a combination of the newly-launched Atlantic Sun football operation and the WAC 2.0, is led by the defending FCS national champions who are on their way out and up to Conference USA.

Nevertheless, defending national champ Sam Houston has won its second different conference of this calendar year and will be the top seed on Sunday. 

Outside of the Bearkats, though, the A-Sun/WAC is unlikely to get anyone in. Stephen F. Austin lost by six to Texas Tech, by one to Sam Houston, and by four at Jacksonville State, but they're a fringe bubble team at this point. Jacksonville State can finish second in the league with a win over Eastern Kentucky, defeated Florida State and SFA, but is just 3-5 elsewhere. EKU can only finish 7-4 with a win over Jacksonville State.

Big Sky
IN: Montana State, Sacramento State, Eastern Washington, Montana, UC Davis
ON THE BUBBLE: None

This mammoth league is going to send a large contingent to the field. Montana State and Sacramento State are both undefeated and will share a true co-championship with wins this weekend. (Montana State visits rival Montana; Sacramento State visits UC Davis.) Eastern Washington, Montana and UC Davis have only lost two games apiece, all of them in Big Sky play.

Big South
IN: Kennesaw State
ON THE BUBBLE: Monmouth

The Big South appears to be a one-bid league, and that bid could be up for grabs in Kennesaw.

Kennesaw State hosts Monmouth on Saturday in a true Big South title game; both teams are undefeated in league play. If you're in the Big South, you're likely rooting for Monmouth here, and if you're on the bubble you're pulling hard for Kennesaw. KSU is 9-1 and undefeated in FCS play, so they're likely to nab an at-large bid from someone else if they lose to Monmouth. Monmouth is 7-3 with losses to Holy Cross and Princeton, so they're in a true win-or-go home situation. 

CAA
IN: Villanova, James Madison
ON THE BUBBLE: William & Mary, Rhode Island

Villanova wins the CAA with a victory at Delaware but JMU, a 28-27 home loser to the Wildcats earlier this season, is expected to be the higher seed. Most sites have William & Mary in despite their 6-4 record and Rhode Island appears to be right on the bubble's edge (do bubbles have edges?). Both teams play mediocre teams on Saturday (W&M vs. Richmond, URI vs. Elon), and both teams need wins to feel comfortable on Sunday.

Ivy LeagueThe Ivy will not send a team to the FCS playoffs for the 400th consecutive season, but its title is up for grabs Saturday nonetheless. Dartmouth and Princeton are both 5-1, and the Big Green hammered the Tigers 31-7 on Nov. 5. Dartmouth can win its second consecutive Ivy League title with a win at 2-7 Brown. Princeton needs a Dartmouth loss and at 3-6 Penn. In the event they both lose, 4-2 Harvard and 4-2 Yale will battle for a co-championship in The Game.

MEAC
Another no-bid league, South Carolina State has clinched its first Celebration Bowl berth. The regular season finale will decide whether or not 5-5 SC State heads Atlanta with a losing record. 

Missouri Valley
IN: North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Missouri State, South Dakota, Southern Illinois

That miracle-of-all-miracles Hail Mary that South Dakota pulled off to beat South Dakota State likely moved the Coyotes from the bubble to the field of 24. Otherwise, South Dakota likely needs to win in the Fargodome to extend its season.

After struggling through the spring season, North Dakota State has returned to its dominant self, losing only at South Dakota State. 

To consider the strength of this league, South Dakota State would finish 4-4 if they fall to North Dakota on Saturday yet there's no talk of the Jackrabbits being on the bubble.

Northeast
IN: Sacred Heart (probably)
ON THE BUBBLE: None

Sacred Heart can clinch the outright NEC title with a win over 2-7 Long Island on Saturday. If the Pioneers somehow lose, Bryant, a 17-6 winner over SHU back in September, can make things interesting. If Bryant wins and Sacred Heart and Duquesne lose, the Bulldogs of Bryant are in. Either way, this is a one-bid league.

Ohio Valley
IN: UT-Martin
ON THE BUBBLE: None

UT-Martin has won the OVC no matter what happens on Saturday. Southeast Missouri State can clinch second place if they upset the Skyhawks this weekend; they'd be 4-2 in OVC play and 4-7 on the season.

Patriot League
IN: Holy Cross
ON THE BUBBLE: None

Holy Cross has clinched the Patriot League title, thanks to a sweep over 4-1 Colgate and Fordham. 

Pioneer Football League
IN: Davidson
ON THE BUBBLE: San Diego, maybe

Davidson clinches the PFL's one bid with a victory over 2-7 Drake. San Diego, off the bubble thanks to an 0-4 start, needs a Davidson loss and a triumph at Stetson to complete its miracle rally. 

Also, St. Thomas is still in the process of transitioning to FCS and couldn't reach the playoffs even if they were eligible, but in their first season in the league the Tommies can win a PFL co-championship with a win over Presbyterian and losses by Davidson and San Diego. 

SoCon
IN: East Tennessee State, Mercer
ON THE BUBBLE: Chattanooga

ETSU and Mercer are both 6-1 and play Saturday in Johnson City for the outright SoCon title. Both teams seem safe regardless of the outcome, though a national seed will likely be on the line. Some sites have Chattanooga winning the SoCon bid(?) and others don't mention them at all, so I stuck the Mocs on the bubble.

Southland"
IN: Incarnate Word, Southeastern Louisiana
ON THE BUBBLE: None

Thanks to their 55-52 win over SELA on Nov. 6, Incarnate Word wins the Southland outright with a victory at Houston Baptist on Saturday. SELA needs a UIW loss and a win over Nicholls.

Either way, both the Cardinals and the Lions are in.

SWAC
In Deion's first full season, Jackson State has clinched its first SWAC East title since 2013 (a 7-6 win over Florida A&M on back in Week 1 turned out to be the de facto division championship). In the West, the championship will play out over the next two weeks. If Alcorn State beats Jackson State in Jackson, the Braves would win the division with a Prairie View A&M loss to Mississippi Valley State. Prairie View needs an Alcorn loss or a win over Mississippi Valley. 

Tags
terms: