Week 9 Final Spring FCS Football Bracketology Breakdown

Bracketology Breakdown
Four At-Large Bids: James Madison, North Dakota, Eastern Washington, North Dakota State
A bracketology bummer happened on the final Saturday of the season. None of the potential bid poachers emerged victorious. On top of that, the one or two teams who could have filled the void by winning and grasping spots for themselves, went down in flames. So basically what we’re left with are the four teams listed above here, along with the ten automatic bid conference champions.  Fourteen teams that are no doubt locked into this crazy spring playoff dance.
So who are the final two teams? There figures to be six teams with legit claims to one of these last two spots. And we’re going to break them all down here. Here are the contenders.
  • Kennesaw State
The Owls finished the regular season 4-1, but one of those was against NAIA Shorter. One of the others was Robert Morris, who finished winless and another was Dixie State, an FCS transitional school. The one perceived strong opponent they played was Monmouth, losing 42-17. There’s a definite playoff pedigree here, but that really shouldn’t be weighed when it comes to THIS season’s qualification.
  • East Tennessee State
The Buccaneers played strictly a Southern Conference schedule and finished 4-2. They missed playing Chattanooga and Wofford. Playing both probably would have amounted to about a push for their Strength of Schedule, which ranked 59 coming into the weekend. The losses to Furman and Mercer, both came when each of them were playing their best this season. The big, big bonus here, SoCon champion Virginia Military lost just one game this year and ETSU is the team that did that, 24-20.
  • Murray State
The Racers had a Strength of Schedule of 54 coming into the weekend. They started the season off 5-0 before dropping their last two to finish 5-2. Of those wins, their best was probably a home victory against Southeast Missouri State. The season finale loss to OVC champion Jacksonville State shouldn’t hurt, but losing the week before to 4-5 (4-3 vs. FCS) Austin Peay does a little more. The big issue is trending the wrong direction at the end with no decisive victories.
  • Richmond
The Spiders were the beneficiary of a weak schedule, ending 3-1. Skating by William & Mary once and soundly beating Elon twice before getting a game with James Madison, is nothing to write home about. If you look at the box score of their 23-6 loss to JMU, it’s not pretty. It’s not a good taste to leave in The Committee’s mouth. The way the CAA broke up their conference did no good for whoever was going to finish second in the South, as it was clearly seen as the weaker side from the very beginning.
  • UC-Davis
The Aggies are probably a fringe contender at 3-2, but we’ll take a look anyway. They did lose a game against Cal Poly, a team they had beaten once already, 73-24. The two losses were to Weber State, the Big Sky champion and Eastern Washington, a certain playoff lock. The other two wins over the two Idaho schools weren’t overly impressive, especially when you consider each finished 2-4 this spring. The Strength of Schedule shows a ranking of 19, but there’s no big win to rest on here.
  • Missouri State
The Bears are a very interesting team to examine. They played three games in the fall, losing all three. One of those was to Oklahoma, so don’t even worry about that. Two were FCS Central Arkansas, by 7 and 9 points, respectively. Spring came along and the switch was flipped. They missed playing all the contenders, except North Dakota State, who beat them 25-0. They ended up sharing the MVFC championship, their best win being against 5-3 Southern Illinois. An incredible Strength of Schedule of 4 only boosts the argument for a team who finished 5-4 overall.
So after examining these six teams, let’s all pull our hair out! This might be the hardest final two selections I’ve ever had in all the years I’ve done FCS Bracketology. Every one of these teams has a claim and major flaws to their resumes. But a final call has to be made.
By virtue of having the best win of any of these six teams, the second to last bid goes to East Tennessee State. The final bid will go to a team I’ve declared as a non-possibility for weeks. But they have a share of the top conference’s championship and the top Strength of Schedule of all contenders. Congrats to Missouri State.
Last Two At-Large Bids: East Tennessee State, Missouri State
First Four Out: Richmond, Murray State, Kennesaw State, UC-Davis
Lastly, what about the seeds? When The Selection Committee released their Top Ten a couple weeks ago, James Madison was #1 and they’ve not lost. I expect them to be there. #2 and #3 was North Dakota State and South Dakota State. I suspect that SDSU will assume the #2 and NDSU will fall off the seed list. Sam Houston State was #4, expect them to be #3. #5 was originally a tie between North Dakota and Weber State. North Dakota has not played since and Weber State has won twice. Not to mention they’re an undefeated conference champion. Look for Weber State to be #4, but Delaware will be right in that conversation.
Bids By Conference
Big Sky (2): *Weber State, Eastern Washington
Big South (1): *Monmouth
Colonial (2): *Delaware, James Madison
Missouri Valley (4): *South Dakota State, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Missouri State
Northeast (1): *Sacred Heart
Ohio Valley (1): *Jacksonville State
Patriot (1): *Holy Cross
Pioneer (1): *Davidson
Southern (2): *Virginia Military, East Tennessee State
Southland (1): *Sam Houston State
* denotes clinched automatic qualifier