FCS Playoff Watch 2009 #1
FCS Playoff Watch 2009 #2
FCS Playoff Watch 2009 #3: Midweek Update and Predictions
FCS Afternoon: Countdown to the 2009 Playoffs
FCS Playoffs 2009: Bracket Projection
FCS Bracket Announced: Comment and Predictions
Holy Cross (9-2; Patriot Auto-Bid)
#1 Villanova (10-1; CAA Auto-Bid)
Eastern Washington (8-3; At-Large)
William and Mary (9-2; At-Large)
Elon (9-2; At-Large)
#4 Richmond (10-1; At-Large)
South Carolina State (10-1; MEAC Auto-Bid)
Appalachian State (9-2; SOCON Auto-Bid)
Eastern Illinois (8-3; OVC Auto-Bid)
#2 Southern Illinois (10-1; MVFC Auto-Bid)
New Hampshire (9-2; At-Large)
McNeese State (8-2; At Large)
South Dakota State (8-3; At-Large)
#3 Montana (11-0; Big Sky Auto-Bid)
Weber State (7-4; At-Large)
Stephen F. Austin (9-2; Southlands Auto-Bid)
As always, the pairing rules leave a number of things to be desired. In this case, four of the top six teams are in the top part of the bracket, including three of the four CAA teams. So how did I get there?
Teams with nine wins or more from the top conferences choose themselves, so there is no question about Elon, New Hampshire, Richmond, and William & Mary. Teams from the top conferences with eight or more wins typically get in as well, so there is no great question about Eastern Washington, McNeese State, or South Dakota State. After this, the picture is about a clear as mud, given the losses today by Lafayette, Liberty, and Northern Iowa. Who has a shot at the final spot? As I see it, it comes down to a 9-2 team with a weak schedule (albeit with 9 DI wins), Colgate, and two 7-4 teams from top conferences, Northern Iowa, and Weber State. Given the committee’s practice of choosing four-loss teams from strong conferences in each of the last two years, I suspect that Northern Iowa or Weber State will get the nod. Of these two teams, Weber State by far has the best victory, over
There are five obvious candidates for seeds this year, the auto-bid winners from the top four conferences, Appalachian State, Montana, Southern Illinois, and Villanova, and another team, Richmond, which both had a near-perfect record and a tough schedule. I place Villanova in the #1 spot, since they topped the computer numbers, played an entirely DI schedule, and picked up an FBS win. Southern Illinois is in the #2 slot since no FCS team got closer than a touchdown this year, and they lost only to FBS opponent Marshall by a field goal. Montana is placed in the #3 slot despite their undefeated season, since FCS teams repeatedly ran them close, including 1-10 Idaho State. The committee might be tempted to give SOCON champion the #4 seed, but Richmond has one fewer loss and an FBS win under its belt.
Holy Cross is the closest non-conference matchup for Villanova; a very short trip by plane or a long bus ride.
Eastern Illinois will travel by bus to take on the Salukis in the Illinois championship.
South Dakota State is the closest non-conference matchup for Montana, but the distance is so long that this pairing is very much in doubt.
Elon will have a medium bus trip up I-85 to take on Richmond.
There is only one obvious geographic pairing in this group, Appalachian State and South Carolina State – and Appalachian State will likely take the home game. Beyond this, there are problems, given the vast distances between the remaining six teams. Who will have home games? Based on attendance, McNeese State, Stephen F. Austin, and William and Mary. Who to pair with them? New Hampshire's shortest (permissible) plane flight would be to McNeese State in Louisiana, and Weber State's shortest plane flight would be to Stephen F. Austin in Texas. This unfortunately leaves Eastern Washington to fly cross-country to William and Mary. Any of these pairings could completely go in a different direction!
Finishing the Bracket
Elon/Richmond and SCSU/Appalachian State make for a neat, southeast pod. After that, we are once again left with a mess. Here is the rationale. William & Mary Would have a short trip to a potential second round matchup with Villanova.Weber State and McNeese State would have (shorter) trips to Montana than any other pair of teams. This leaves New Hampshire and McNeese State as the leftover pairing, matched up with Southern Illinois. As always, however, the committee may choose to fudge its rules to produce a better bracket than their rules dictate.
Bids by Conference
Big Sky: 3