The NCAA unveiled the 2012 FCS Playoffs bracket on Sunday. The tournament begins with four first round games on Saturday, Nov. 24. Twelve teams receive opening round byes.
The Southern, Big Sky and Missouri Valley Football Conferences, as well as the Colonial Athletic Association led with three selections each, including all five top seeds: No. 5 Georgia Southern (SoCon), Nos. 2 and 3 Eastern Washington and Montana State (Big Sky), No. 4 Old Dominion (CAA) and No. 1 overall and defending national champion North Dakota State (MVFC).
Stony Brook was upset in Big South play by Coastal Carolina, which earned the conference’s automatic bid and will travel to MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman in the first round. The Seawolves spent much of the season ranked in the top 10, but were left sweating on Selection Sunday. The Big South only earned automatic entry two years, and had only sent an at-large to the playoffs just once before this season. Stony Brook hosts CAA at-large berth and 2009 national champion Villanova.
The bid Stony Brook earned contributed to Lehigh’s snub. The 10-1 Mountain Hawks had a difficult road to the postseason after losing the Patriot League title to Colgate. The non-scholarship Patriot League is one of the lower regarded FCS conferences, which hurt Lehigh’s case despite reaching the past two playoffs and advancing last year.
Colgate travels to face surprise NEC champion Wagner on Saturday. The Seahawks were one of the season’s most inspiring stories, emerging from the NEC with an impressive win over defending champion Albany after their Staten Island campus was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The first round breakdown is as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 24
Colgate (8-3, Patriot League automatic) at Wagner (8-3, NEC automatic) – 12 p.m. ET
winner advances to No. 2 Eastern Washington, 6 p.m. ET on Dec. 1
Coastal Carolina (7-4, Big South automatic) at Bethune-Cookman (9-2, MEAC automatic) – 2 p.m. ET
winner advances to No. 4 Old Dominion, 3 p.m. ET on Dec. 1
Villanova (8-3, at-large) at Stony Brook (9-2, at-large) – 3 p.m. ET
winner advances to No. 3 Montana State, 7 p.m. ET on Dec. 1
Eastern Illinois (7-4, OVC automatic) at South Dakota State (8-3, at-large) – 3 p.m. ET
winner advances to No. 1 North Dakota State, 4 p.m. ET on Dec. 1