The crystal ball: FCS playoff projections

(STATS) – With an unusually high number of worthy at-large candidates clamoring to get into the FCS playoff field, there’s bound to be movement on the back end of the bracket based on some crucial late-season contests.

There could be a lot of jostling toward the top that has little to do with how teams fare on the field.

The playoff selection committee is charged with not putting two seeded teams from the same conference on the same side of the bracket, so Southland Conference powers Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State – fourth and fifth, respectively, in the new playoff projection – need to have a seed line or two changed for separation’s sake.

Flip-flop the seeds of Central Arkansas and projected three-seed North Dakota State and it would put NDSU and fellow Missouri Valley member South Dakota State on the same side of the bracket.

Flip-flop the seeds of Sam Houston and projected six-seed Elon and it would put Elon and fellow CAA Football co-leader James Madison on the same side.

If the selection committee is forced into changes with seed lines come Selection Sunday, Nov. 19, there will not be an announcement, but you’ll know.

But until that 11th hour comes, we’re taking a few big breaths and letting the FCS craziness play out over the next two weekends.

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PROJECTED BIDS BY CONFERENCE=

* – Automatic qualifier

Big Sky (3): Northern Arizona (6-3); *Southern Utah (7-2); Weber State (7-2)

Big South (2): *Kennesaw State (8-1); Monmouth (8-1)

CAA (4): Delaware (6-3); Elon (8-1); *James Madison (9-0); Stony Brook (7-2)

Missouri Valley (5): *North Dakota State (8-1); Northern Iowa (5-4); South Dakota (7-2); South Dakota State (7-2); Western Illinois (6-3)

Northeast (1): *Duquesne (7-2)

Ohio Valley (1): *Jacksonville State (8-1)

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

Pioneer (1): *San Diego (7-2)

Southern (4): Furman (6-3); Samford (6-3); Western Carolina (7-3); *Wofford (8-1)

Southland (2): *Central Arkansas (8-1); Sam Houston State (8-1)

Moved In: Delaware; Northern Iowa; Samford

Dropped Out: Eastern Washington; Illinois State; Nicholls

Bubble Watch: Illinois State (6-3); Montana (6-3); McNeese (7-2); New Hampshire (6-3); Nicholls (7-2)

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STATS’ PROJECTED PAIRINGS=

Top 8 seeds receive first-round byes

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

Northern Arizona-Weber State winner at No. 8 seed South Dakota State

Duquesne-South Dakota winner at No. 5 seed Sam Houston State

Western Illinois-Western Carolina winner at No. 4 seed Central Arkansas

San Diego-Southern Utah winner at No. 3 seed North Dakota State

Furman-Kennesaw State winner at No. 6 seed Elon

Monmouth-Delaware winner at No. 7 seed Wofford

Samford-Northern Iowa winner at No. 2 seed Jacksonville State