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


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 have 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 and first since 2015. 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.

This year’s field includes seven programs that have won national championships and one team, Gardner-Webb (6-5), that will be making its first appearance in the playoffs. The Runnin’ Bulldogs will play at Eastern Kentucky (7-4) on Saturday.

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).

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


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