FCS Bracketology: Week 1

Jan 5, 2013; Frisco, TX, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Brock Jensen (16) hands off to running back John Crockett (23) against the Sam Houston State Bearkats during the FCS Championship football game at FC Dallas Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Championship Subdivision football is back, ladies and gentleman.

With the 2013 FCS season starting in just a couple of short days, the playoffs and thus FCS Bracketology will take a different shape as it expands from 20 to 24 teams, shifts from seeding the top five to the top eight teams, and hands out an extra automatic bid given out to the champions of the Pioneer Football Conference.

Missing from this years bracket will be otherwise noteworthy contenders. Old Dominion begins their transition to Conference USA and the FBS ranks starting this season playing as an Independent after only four seasons at the FCS level.  Additionally, Southern Conference powerhouses Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will move up to the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, making them both ineligible for the league title and automatic bids.

Having won the last two FCS national championships, North Dakota State remains the favorite yet again returning QB Brock Jensen and FCS Preseason All-American defenders in CB Marcus Williams and LB Grant Olson.  However, not far behind is Montana State with Payton Award candidate QB DeNarius McGhee leading an explosive offense for the Bobcats and two-time runners-up for the FCS title Sam Houston State led by their FCS Preseason All-American RB Tim Flanders.

With the FCS playoffs expanding from 20 to 24 teams and the perennial powerhouses of Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and Old Dominion ineligible, there are plenty of spots open for teams to try to make a run at the FCS National Championship.  Let’s take a look at who has the inside track at the start of the season.

 

Automatic-Bids:

Big Sky: #2 Montana State

Big South: Liberty

Colonial: #5 Villanova

Mid-Eastern: #23 Bethune-Cookman

Missouri Valley: #1 North Dakota State

Northeastern: Wagner

Ohio Valley: #21 Eastern Illinois

Patriot: Colgate

Pioneer: San Diego

Southern: #8 Wofford

Southland: #3 Sam Houston State

 

At-Large Bids:

Big Sky: #4 Eastern Washington, #20 Montana, #18 Northern Arizona

Colonial: #19 James Madison, #10 New Hampshire,  #15 Richmond, #11 Towson

Missouri Valley: #13 Illinois State, #17 Northern Iowa, #6 South Dakota State

Ohio Valley: Eastern Kentucky

Southern: #24 Chattanooga

Southland: #7 Central Arkansas

 

Last Four Out: #14 Cal Poly, Delaware, Sacramento State, #16 Stony Brook

 

The Field:

The bottom is the first round match up.  The winner would then play at the above team in the second round.

#1 North Dakota State
Eastern Illinois @ Illinois State

#8 Montana
San Diego @ Central Arkansas

#5 Eastern Washington
Eastern Kentucky @ Chattanooga

#4 Sam Houston State
Richmond @ Liberty

#3 Villanova
Wagner @ New Hampshire

#6 Towson
Bethune-Cookman @ Wofford

#7 South Dakota State
Northern Iowa @ Northern Arizona

#2 Montana State
Colgate @ James Madison

Topics: FCS, Football, Montana Grizzlies, North Dakota State Bison, Sam Houston State Bearkats

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