FCS Bracketology Bonus

Hot Beef Take

 

2019 Bracketology Bonus

 

Alrighty then. We’re now into the final week before Selection Sunday. I was looking over the 2018 version of the Bracketology Bonus and at first glance, this season doesn’t seem as polluted as last. Of course, I’m not neck deep into this yet, so that may change by the end of this article, but things do seem more cut and dry this time around.

Looks like a third year in a row, there’s going to be a Thursday night showcase from the Southland Conference. And for a second year in a row, the conference’s automatic bid is on the line. The opponents are the same, but this year, Nicholls is travelling to Southeastern Louisiana. The winner of the game will do no worse than tying for first place with Central Arkansas. Except that both beat UCA, meaning they have a true championship on the line. It’s awesome when the schedule works out like that.

Speaking of Central Arkansas, they play in Week 13’s only other pre-Saturday game, on Friday, at Incarnate Word. Last year, Incarnate Word sat idle, praying their 6-4 record and share of the SLC title would be enough to sneak into the post-Thanksgiving party. And they were rewarded. No such case this time around. In fact, Central Arkansas really has little to worry about either as they currently have an 8-2 record against FCS competition and a win over FBS Western Kentucky, who actually has a winning record also.

So how many bids are locked up right now? Counting the automatic bids already accounted for, eighteen(18). That’s fifteen teams plus three who’ll take remaining automatic bids. So here’s where we’ll start with who I see as the current nationally seeded teams coming into the final weekend of the season.

 

  • *North Dakota State, 11-0 (Missouri Valley)
  • *James Madison,  10-1 (Colonial)
  • Montana, 9-2 (Big Sky)
  • Weber State, 8-3 (Big Sky)
  • Sacramento State, 8-3 (Big Sky)
  • Illinois State, 8-3 (Missouri Valley)
  • South Dakota State, 8-3 (Missouri Valley)
  • *Wofford, 7-3 (Southern)

 

These other teams, currently sit as unseeded, but should also be safe win or lose this weekend…

 

  • Montana State, 8-3 (Big Sky)
  • Central Arkansas, 8-3 (Southland)
  • Villanova, 8-3 (Colonial)
  • Austin Peay, 8-3 (Ohio Valley)
  • *Monmouth, 9-2 (Big South)
  • *Central Connecticut State, 10-1 (Northeast)
  • *San Diego, 8-2 (Pioneer)
  • ***Ohio Valley Champion
  • ***Patriot Champion
  •  ***Southland Champion

 

* Clinched automatic berth

 

AUTOMATIC NOTES, for the four conferences with undecided champions…

  • BIG SKY: One of the three Big Sky teams above in the seeded area, SHOULD take the automatic bid. Obviously, the other two are safe. The Big Sky could get very interesting though. If all three teams happened to lose this weekend, there would be a minimum four-way tie for first place. A fifth team could also be involved if Eastern Washington were to beat Portland State. Any tiebreaker involving four or more teams is likely going to the conference’s Sagarin ranking tiebreaker, in which case Montana probably gets the bid. In the event that only two of the top three ties, meaning one loses this weekend, each holds an advantage over one of the other two; Weber State over Sacramento State, Sacramento State over Montana, Montana over Weber State. Crikey!
  • OHIO VALLEY: Austin Peay will win the conference’s automatic bid by winning against Eastern Illinois this week. If Austin Peay would lose, Southeast Missouri State would get the bid, provided they beat Murray State. If both teams lose, the bid goes to Austin Peay since they won the head-to-head match-up earlier this season. Tennessee-Martin would actually be involved in the tiebreaker if both Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State lost, but both of those teams beat Tennessee-Martin earlier, which eliminates them from the equation.
  • PATRIOT: At first glance, the Patriot appears to be a mess of potential tiebreakers, involving up to four different teams. However, it’s really pretty simple. If Holy Cross beats Georgetown, they win the Patriot outright. If they lose, the Lehigh/Lafayette winner will be involved in the tiebreaker. If Lehigh wins, Holy Cross wins all tiebreakers. If Lafayette wins in combination with a Holy Cross loss, Lafayette wins the tiebreaker. Bucknell can also be involved, if they beat Fordham. However, Bucknell loses all tiebreakers. 
  • SOUTHLAND: The winner of the Thursday night game between Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana will win the automatic bid. The loser, is likely in a great deal of peril, waiting until Sunday morning, as they will be squarely on the bubble.

With these eighteen out of play, there are six bids left to be accounted for. I’m going to rank these final teams in my perceived order for making the field, provided they win this weekend. This doesn’t necessarily matter to where they slot in the overall field or whether a team could end up hosting or even a potential seed. It could be as simple as a loss this week could hurt so much said team could fall completely out of consideration.

If five or less teams win out of this group, theoretically, you could come back to the top and get the final couple of bids. The danger for these teams though, is coming back to the top would actually jumble them in with a few potentials not even on the radar. Which is something I’m sure the Selection Committee would not enjoy either.

These teams will be listed with their current record, conference and conference record, current power rankings from Massey, Ashburn, CSM and their projected final Strength of Schedule (Massey). Lastly, it will show the record of their last four games and final opponent.

 

 

Southern Illinois, 7-4 (Missouri Valley, 5-2) MAS: 15, ASH: 21, CSM: 25, SoS: 19

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: vs. North Dakota State

Southeast Missouri State, 8-3 (Ohio Valley, 6-1) MAS: 23, ASH: 20, CSM: 22, SoS: 53

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: vs. Murray State

Tennessee-Martin, 7-4 (Ohio Valley, 6-2) MAS: 36, ASH: 26, CSM: 17, SoS: 37

  • Last Four: 2-2
  • Final Opponent: @ Kentucky(FBS)

Northern Iowa, 7-4 (Missouri Valley, 5-2) MAS: 7, ASH: 8, CSM: 16, SoS: 6

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Western Illinois

Albany, 7-4 (Colonial, 5-2) MAS: 19, ASH: 23, CSM: 21, SoS: 33

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: @ Stony Brook

Towson, 7-4 (Colonial, 4-3) MAS: 12, ASH: 12, CSM: 6, SoS: 16

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Elon

Southeastern Louisiana, 7-3 (Southland, 6-2) MAS: 22, ASH: 15, CSM: 14, SoS: 54

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: vs. Nicholls, a win garners conference’s automatic bid

Kennesaw State, 9-2 (Big South, 4-1) MAS: 31, ASH: 27, CSM: 23, SoS: 106

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Gardner-Webb

Maine, 6-5 (Colonial, 4-3) MAS: 18, ASH: 30, CSM: 29, SoS: 23

  • Last Four: 4-0
  • Final Opponent: @ New Hampshire

North Dakota, 6-4 (FCS Independent) MAS: 20, ASH: 19, CSM: 30, SoS: 21

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Southern Utah

 Furman, 7-4 (Southern, 6-2) MAS: 26, ASH: 25, CSM: 10, SoS: 58

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Point(NAIA)

 The Citadel, 6-5 (Southern, 4-3) MAS: 43, ASH: 45, CSM: 31, SoS: 52

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: vs. Wofford

 Nicholls, 7-4 (Southland, 6-2) MAS: 37, ASH: 28, CSM: 32, SoS: 40

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: @ Southeastern Louisiana, a win garners conference’s automatic bid

 South Carolina State, 7-3 (Mid-Eastern) MAS: 54, ASH: 42, CSM: 58, SoS: 87

  • Last Four: 3-1
  • Final Opponent: @ Norfolk State

The list for the final six bids is pretty extensive. The higher you are on this list, the likelier you are to find an angel in the Committee room next Sunday, should you lose this weekend. Southern Illinois is a very interesting case. Right now they have a 6-3 record against the FCS, but also have a win and a loss against the FBS. The win counts extra and the loss vanishes. A win over North Dakota State makes them a slam dunk, will a loss hurt that much? The computer numbers are very good. Southeast Missouri State, has very good computer numbers besides strength of schedule, but have wins over both Southern Illinois and Tennessee-Martin. Even with a loss, they might find their way into the field. Speaking of Tennessee-Martin, they are 7-3 vs. FCS, but losses to the two above here pushes them down the ladder. However, they have a game with FBS Kentucky, that would give them a golden ticket into the playoffs. Northern Iowa, is a bit hard to figure. They’ve beaten everyone they were supposed to and lost to every they were supposed to, except Illinois State, who they beat handily. They have the best computer numbers on the list. If not for a game with 1-10 Western Illinois, they’d probably be in the field already. This is the potential loss that could completely destroy their resume. A win and they might be in a group of four or five teams looking for the last national seed. Albany and Towson both have very similar resumes. Towson’s may be a smidgen better, but Albany won their head-to-head match-up. Southeastern Louisiana slots in next, and is playing for the Southland automatic on Thursday. They’re only here if they lose that game and would actually fall three or four spots if they did. This is why their game with Nicholls is probably a win-and-in de facto Week 13 playoff game. Kennesaw State is the only team on this list with just one loss. Being just 7-1 vs. the FCS is a bad place to be. The computer numbers are just okay, but the strength of schedule is terrible. Winning that eighth FCS game is imperative. A loss with these numbers will not get it done. Maine could end up on this list having won their last five games. 7-5 is not a sparkling record, but two of those losses were to FBS teams. Their best win is Albany. Is that enough? North Dakota probably wishes they could have scheduled, and won, a twelfth game this year. Their 6-4 is 6-4, all FCS games. They 4-3 playing a lame duck Big Sky schedule and a loss to North Dakota State. They do have two good wins; Sam Houston State and Montana State. Furman has finished their part of the schedule that matters, 7-2 against the FCS. Their overall 7-4 record holds no signature wins and their “Point”less game this week with an NAIA school means nothing. The Citadel will make the Committee pull their hair out. Only 5-5 against the FCS, but hold a huge calling card win over Power Five FBS Georgia Tech. Another win over Furman and a chance to beat Wofford this weekend shows they can hang with the best. Unfortunately, they lost to teams nowhere near the playoffs either. Nicholls has a nice 7-2 record against the FCS and two FBS losses. The computer numbers are only average and a loss to Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday will only hurt them more. Winning the Southland’s automatic is probably their best and only way in. South Carolina State has to win this week to have any consideration for a rare MEAC at-large bid. Doing so is possible, but in combination with a loss by North Carolina A&T, they would be going to the Celebrations Bowl instead.