South Dakota State awarded top seed in 24-team FCS playoffs

Sports

South Dakota State and Sacramento State earned the top two seeds in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs when the 24-team field was announced Sunday.

South Dakota State (10-1) will be making its 11th consecutive appearance in the postseason. The Jackrabbits, who lost to Sam Houston in the 2020 championship game, earned an automatic bid as winners of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Sacramento State (11-0) won the Big Sky Conference’s automatic bid. Neither the Jackrabbits nor the Hornets has ever won the FCS championship.

The top eight seeds, which all earn a bye for the playoffs that begin Saturday, also include No. 3 North Dakota State (9-2), No. 4 Montana State (10-1), No. 5 William & Mary (10-1), No. 6 Samford (10-1), No. 7 Incarnate Word (10-1) and No. 8 Holy Cross (11-0).

North Dakota State, the defending national champion and winners of nine of the last 11 titles, made the field for the 13th consecutive season. The Bison have won 41 playoff games, the most of all time. They defeated Montana State 38-10 for last season’s title.

Montana State won a share of the Big Sky Conference title and will be making its 12th playoff appearance and fourth in the last five years. The Bobcats won the title in 1984.

William & Mary will be making its 11th playoff appearance. The Tribe won the Colonial Athletic Association title Saturday, beating at-large entry Richmond 37-26. Samford, making its sixth appearance, won the Southern Conference.

Incarnate Word earned an at-large bid as co-champions, with Southeastern Louisiana, in the Southland Conference. Southeastern Louisiana will host Idaho (7-4) on Saturday.

Holy Cross earned the automatic bid from the Patriot League for a fourth consecutive postseason appearance.

The playoffs conclude with the national championship on Jan. 8 in Frisco, Texas.

HUMBLED

Montana made the field despite a 55-21 loss to fourth-seeded Montana State in the 121st installment of the Brawl of the Wild. … Delaware made it despite losing three of its last four games, including a 29-26 loss to Villanova on Saturday.

LONG TIME NO SEE

Idaho’s appearance is its first since 1995. The Vandals are one of four at-large teams from the Big Sky Conference to make the field. That ties the CAA for the most teams in the field. Eastern Kentucky made it for the first time since 2014, Fordham and William & Mary for the first time since 2015 and St. Francis for the first time since 2016.

ROOKIES

Gardner-Webb (6-5) is the only team in the field that will be making its first appearance in the playoffs. The Runnin’ Bulldogs clinched their first Big South Conference title since 2003 with a 38-17 victory against North Carolina A&T. They’ll make their debut at Eastern Kentucky (7-4).

THE BEGINNINGS

Other first-round games include Saint Francis, Pa. (9-2) at Delaware (7-4), Fordham (9-2) at New Hampshire (8-3), North Dakota (7-4) at Weber State (9-2), Southeast Missouri State (9-2) at Montana (7-4), Elon (8-3) at Furman (9-2) and Davidson (8-3) at Richmond (8-3).

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