Preseason FCS Football Bracketology Breakdown

Bracketology Breakdown
Last Five In, At-Larges: South Dakota State, Weber State, Northern Iowa, James Madison, Montana State
First Four Out: Illinois State, Albany, Elon, Eastern Washington
Seems like I should have been doing this months ago. Really, I should have. This year has been like no other, obviously. As of this writing 2020, fittingly has 20 schools NOT participating in the Spring 2021 FCS season. Of those teams, six did play games in the fall. Three of which played, at least, six or more games. None of these teams will be playing for their respective conference’s automatic berths and only one of those teams, Central Arkansas, had a winning record (5-4, 4-2 vs. FCS). It’s very likely that none of these teams will be considered for at-large berths when mid-April comes along.
The 2021 Spring will bring other changes also. Besides playing from February to April and finishing the playoffs in May, the playoffs themselves will be shrunk from the normal 24 teams down to 16. That’s going to put at-large bids at an absolute premium. The pressure for those bids is going to be amplified even more as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has decided to accept their automatic bid this season amid cancelation of the Celebrations Bowl. General thought is that this lonely five at-large bids will be completely swallowed up by the FCS three power conferences; Missouri Valley, Big Sky and Colonial. Also, it’s not been mentioned yet by the NCAA or the FCS Selection Committee, but the thought is that seeded teams will be reduced from eight to four. This will have less effect this season as a 16-team format means there will be no byes in the First Round.
Unlike if you look elsewhere, here on the College Sports Madness website, you’ll see the FCS Top 25 has been updated to include the results of the now completed 2020 FCS Fall Season. Also, any teams who have opted out for the 2021 Spring Season have been removed (goodbye Sacramento State).
Also, the Bracketology itself has been updated, along with the map to show how and where teams are paired together. As it sits right now, the bracket is VERY western-centric (is that a word?). All four current seeds reside in the MVFC or Big Sky Conferences. So the map is showing some pretty long travel lines for the First and Second Rounds. I would anticipate this changing as the season moves along. The teams in these conferences will be knocking each other off, not to mention a team from the Colonial will likely emerge, giving the FCS at least one eastern seeded team.
With that, doing a little forecasting down the road, I would expect one seeded team from each of the three power conferences. The fourth may end up with one of them also, but it’s still open to another conference champion. Immediately, one to consider, would be Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks went 3-1 in the 2020 Fall Season. The loss was to FBS Florida State, nothing hurt there. But one of those three wins was against FBS Florida International. True, not the strongest of FBS programs, but it’s still a win against the highest level and that usually gives FCS teams a bonus when selection time comes around.
Until February, everyone mask up and stay safe. Hopefully the end of the mayhem is in sight and we can concentrate on the chaos on the field. Happy holidays to all!
Bids By Conference
Big Sky (3): *Montana, Weber State, Montana State
Big South (1): *Kennesaw State
Colonial (2): *Villanova, James Madison
Mid-Eastern (1): North Carolina A&T
Missouri Valley (3): *North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa
Northeast (1): *Central Connecticut State
Ohio Valley (1): *Jacksonville State
Patriot (1): *Holy Cross
Pioneer (1): *San Diego
Southern (1): *Wofford
Southland (1): *Southeastern Louisiana
* denotes automatic qualifier, clinched