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The FCS Playoff Field is set

James Madison is the No. 1 overall seed and looking to defend its national title

NCAA Football: D1 Football Championship Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After an exciting regular season, the FCS playoffs are set to kick off next weekend. Let’s take a look at who made the field of 24 teams and who got left at home.

Top Eight Seeds (Receive First-Round Byes)

No. 1 James Madison Dukes

No. 2 North Dakota State Bison

No. 3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks

No. 4 Central Arkansas Bears

No. 5 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

No. 6 Sam Houston State Bearkats

No. 7 Wofford Terriers

No. 8 Southern Utah Thunderbirds

There were no real surprises here. The top four seeds should have been those four teams in some order. I think the committee got it right when it comes to these eight. Wofford and Southern Utah should have received first-round byes for winning good conferences, while South Dakota State and Sam Houston State should have been the top two at-large teams.

First Round Games

Stony Brook Seawolves vs. Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Weber State Wildcats vs. Western Illinois Leathernecks

Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Monmouth Hawks

New Hampshire Wildcats vs. Central Connecticut State Blue Devils

Kennesaw State Owls vs. Samford Bulldogs

Nicholls State Colonels vs. South Dakota Coyotes

Elon Phoenix vs. Furman Paladins

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks vs. San Diego Toreros

I’m stunned that Northern Arizona not only got a spot in the field, but gets to host a game too. The Lumberjacks finished the season 7-4 and didn’t beat a fellow playoff team to get here. Northern Arizona’s best win came against a 6-5 Illinois State team and it lost to 7-4 Montana, a team that got left out.

Additionally, seeing Monmouth make it despite having a bad loss to Albany was a shock. I crossed the Hawks off my list after they were hammered by Kennesaw State in their season finale. They had no solid wins to their name and the Big South is a down conference this season. The committee seemed to put a lot more stock in their 9-2 than McNeese State’s 9-2.

Left Out

McNeese State, Austin Peay, Delaware, Eastern Washington, Illinois State, Western Carolina, Montana

Delaware and Montana can only blame themselves for being left at home. Both schools lost to teams with losing records yesterday and likely cost themselves spots in the postseason.

Some will bemoan that a 9-2 McNeese State team was left at home, but the Cowboys didn’t have a quality win all season in a Southland Conference that had three teams with clearly better resumes.