Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 FCS Playoff Projections: Volume One

The 2014 FCS Playoffs are right around the corner, and the time is now to start projecting who will likely be in the field of 24. I will base our projections on our weekly PRS rankings as well as current standings.


1. Coastal Carolina
CCU is now 10-0 and ranked number one in our FCS PRS rankings. They are currently tied with Liberty at 3-0 in Big South play. The Chanticleers finish up with both games at home, against Monmouth, and what will likely be a title clash with Liberty in the season finale.

2. Fordham
After beating Bucknell over the weekend, Fordham looks pretty much uncontested in their run to the Patriot League title. With only a loss to Villanova to show for the season, Fordham seems a lock at this point.

3. North Dakota State
I felt that NDSU had a chance to get upset by Northern Iowa over the weekend, and that is exactly what happened in a 23-3 loss. Despite that situation, the Bison are still tied with Illinois State at the top of the MVC. This loss was probably for the best, as now the pressure is off.

4. New Hampshire
The Wildcats are a fixture in the postseason these days, and they should easily be back again. UNH shouldn't have a ton of trouble closing out against Delaware at home and Maine on the road, and would win the Colonial by winning out.

5. Villanova
The Wildcats are one game back of UNH in the Colonial, but it doesn't look good for them to catch up, and so Villanova would likely finish second in the conference, and finish in the top five after likely wins over Albany and Delaware. They are a lock. One more note of interest...Villanova handed Fordham their only loss of the season in a blowout.

6. Eastern Washington
The Eagles are in a tightly contested Big Sky race, which has as many as four teams still gunning for the title. They could still lose out if Northern Arizona wins out, as they are the only loss for EWU, and that would give NAU the tie breaker. No matter what, the Eagles are still a lock for a bid.

7. Jacksonville State
The Gamecocks control their own destiny, and their place should be cemented this weekend when they host Eastern Illinois. A win cements the OVC title, while a loss cements second place. Either way, JSU gets in the door.

8. Illinois State
The Redbirds are the second MVC team who will earn a bid without much trouble doing so. They are tied with North Dakota State for the MVC lead, and wins over Youngstown State and Northern Iowa will likely cement the Redbirds as the second place team in a worst case scenario. ISU is a lock.

9. Eastern Kentucky
EKU would likely give the OVC a three team appearance in the playoffs this season, along with Jacksonville State and Eastern Illinois. The Colonels will likely handle Murray State with ease before finishing up at Florida, and would likely go into the playoffs at 9-3.

10. Chattanooga
The Mocs will likely hold off all competition to win the watered down Southern Conference this season, and that would lock them into the playoffs. The SoCon has been eaten alive by expansion, and so this isn't as sweet as it used to be. However, look for Chattanooga to make a little noise early in the playoffs.

11. Bethune-Cookman
The Wildcats are becoming a fixture at the top of the MEAC, and have become a playoff fixture as well. Now they just need some wins. The major issue is a three way tie at the top of the conference with South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T, and the Cats already were beaten by SC State.

12. SE Louisiana
The Lions haven't always been perfect this season, and there is at least one more challenge on the schedule with McNeese State coming up. They are tied with Sam Houston State, who they don't play. To ensure the birth, SELU needs to win out.

13. Jacksonville
The Dolphins won't likely be seeded in the upper half of the bracket, but that doesn't mean that Kerwin Bell's scrappers won't make some noise. JU is currently tied at the top of the Pioneer League with San Diego, who they have already beaten.

14. Bryant
The bulldogs have been surprisingly solid in the Northeast Conference this season, and they are seeking their first ever FCS playoff birth. The next two weeks are basically a playoff within the NEC, as the Bulldogs get Sacred Heart and Wagner to close out the season.

15. North Carolina A&T
It has been a long while since the Aggies have been as strong. It is nothing abnormal to see two MEAC teams in the playoffs these days, but could they get three with South Carolina State? A&T already lost to SC State, and do not play Bethune-Cookman.

16. Richmond
The Spiders have a tough test in the final two weeks with games against James Madison and William & Mary still to come. If they can win at least one, they should cement in with a birth.

17. James Madison
The task is out, go to the playoffs. Richmond is the first test.

18. Youngstown State
It has not been an easy ride, but the third place team in the MVC likely gets a bid this season, and that is where the Penguins sit.

19. Stephen F. Austin
The Lumberjacks have been up and down, but they would likely get the second bid for the SLC this fall. Look for them to make some moves in the final weeks to get there.

20. Idaho State
The Bengals are an amazing turnaround story this fall, and should they win out, they would likely get one of the final bids out of the Big Sky.

21. Montana State
The Bobcats would be the third entry into the playoffs, but they have to win out to lock it down now. They haven't missed much of a beat this season, and could pick up a win or two in the tournament.

22. Northern Iowa
If the Panthers can win out, the win over North Dakota State would be their stamp on the ticket to get them through the door.

23. South Carolina State
I know I will take heat for this selection, but SC State is deserving out of the MEAC, and could give that league three births. The MEAC's upper half is as strong as it gets, and the Bulldogs have already beaten both Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T.

24. Northern Arizona
The Jacks get the final spot and give the Big Sky a 4th team in the playoffs, which is well deserved.

Bubble Teams
San Diego
Sacred Heart
Cal Poly
McNeese State
Sam Houston State
William & Mary


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