The crystal ball: FCS playoff projections

(STATS) – The weekly STATS FCS playoff projections are getting a lot more serious with November’s arrival.

The first set of top 10 rankings from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee will be released Thursday night during halftime of the Idaho-Troy game on ESPNU. It will be interesting to see how they compare to this week’s projected bracket.

While eight teams earn seeds and first-round byes in the 24-team field, the committee releases a top 10 to build excitement around the playoffs, although the rankings certainly will change before the field is announced Nov. 19.

The STATS projection: 1. James Madison; 2. North Dakota State; 3. Jacksonville State; 4. South Dakota; 5. Central Arkansas; 6. Elon; 7. Sam Houston State; 8. Wofford; 9. Northern Arizona; and 10. Southern Utah. Illinois State and South Dakota State also warrant strong consideration.

PROJECTED BIDS BY CONFERENCE

* – Automatic qualifier

Big Sky (4): *Eastern Washington (5-3); Northern Arizona (6-2); Southern Utah (6-2); Weber State (6-2)

Big South (2): *Kennesaw State (7-1); Monmouth (7-1)

CAA (3): Elon (7-1); *James Madison (8-0); Stony Brook (6-2)

Missouri Valley (5): Illinois State (6-2); *North Dakota State (8-0); South Dakota (7-1); South Dakota State (6-2); Western Illinois (5-3)

Northeast (1): *Duquesne (7-1)

Ohio Valley (1): *Jacksonville State (7-1)

Patriot (1): *Colgate (5-4)

Pioneer (1): *San Diego (6-2)

Southern (3): Furman (6-3); Western Carolina (6-3); *Wofford (7-1)

Southland (3): *Central Arkansas (7-1); Sam Houston State (7-1); Nicholls (6-2)

Moved In: Colgate; Furman; Monmouth; Nicholls; Weber State

Dropped Out: Delaware; Lehigh; McNeese; Northern Iowa; Samford

Bubble Watch: Delaware (5-3); Samford (5-3)

STATS’ PROJECTED PAIRINGS

Top 8 seeds receive first-round byes

Monmouth-Stony Brook winner at No. 1 seed James Madison

Duquesne-Illinois State winner at No. 8 seed Wofford

Colgate-South Dakota State winner at No. 5 seed Central Arkansas

Weber State-Northern Arizona winner at No. 4 seed South Dakota

Nicholls-Western Carolina winner at No. 3 seed Jacksonville State

Furman-Kennesaw State winner at No. 6 seed Elon

Western Illinois-Eastern Washington winner at No. 7 seed Sam Houston State

San Diego-Southern Utah winner at No. 2 seed North Dakota State