Kennesaw State, Villanova, and ETSU won big games on Saturday to punch their ticket to the NCAA Playoffs. Incarnate Word clinched a spot on Thursday when Nicholls State knocked SE Louisiana out of the hunt.
Eleven conferences receive automatic bids for its champion. The Ivy League, MEAC and SWAC do not. An additional 13 at-large bids will be extended to complete a 24-team bracket.
NCAA Playoffs automatic qualifiers:
AQ7: Sam Houston State
Big Sky: Sacramento State
Big South: Kennesaw State
MVFC: North Dakota State
NEC: Sacred Heart
OVC: UT Martin
Patriot: Holy Cross
Southland: Incarnate Word
Other conference champs:
Ivy League: Dartmouth
MEAC: South Carolina State (will face SWAC winner in Celebration Bowl)
SWAC: Jackson State vs. Prairie View A&M
Villanova claimed the Colonial's automatic bid with its 21-13 win at Delaware. The Wildcats entered the weekend tied with James Madison, but owns the tie-breaker with their 28-27 win in Harrisonburg on October 9. The Dukes were a huge 27.50-point home favorite over Towson and won 56-10. The Dukes are a shoo-in for an at-large bid.
Kennesaw State cruised to a 49-17 home win over Monmouth in the facto Big South championship playoff game. The Owls were only favored by a single digit.
ETSU captured the SoCon with a dramatic 38-35 win over Mercer in the de facto conference championship playoff game at Johnson City. Tyler Riddell's 13-yard TD pass to Malik Murray with 1:47 left in the game provided the game-winning points, but it wasn't over until Mercer failed to convert a 44-yard field goal as time expired.
The Big Sky bid depended on Saturday's results in games featuring Montana State (9-1, 7-0) and Sacramento State (8-2, 7-0) against other opposition. First, the Bobcats lost 29-10 at rival Montana in a battle for "The Great Divide Trophy" which had been in Montana State's possession since 2016. Overall, Montana leads the series 72-42-5. Then, Sacramento State took care of its business with a 27-7 win at UC Davis to claim the Big Sky title and automatic bid.
has a later game Saturday as a slim 0.48-point favorite at UC Davis (8-2, 5-2 Big Sky).
Dartmouth on Saturday clinched the Ivy League title with a 52-31 win at Brown. The Big Green have won 11 straight road games.
Another de facto conference championship game took place in Fargo where North Dakota State blasted South Dakota 52-24 with the Missouri Valley Football Conference crown on the line.
Sacred Heart was a 38-14 winner at LIU to capture the Northeast Conference bid.
Davidson got another crack at wrapping up the Pioneer League title when it hosted Drake as a 15.25-point favorite. The Wildcats failed to take care of business last week with a 38-29 upset loss at Dayton. That left the Wildcats tied with a San Diego team it defeated earlier in the year and the Torreros would've claimed the title if they win at Stetson and Davidson falters. San Diego won 41-16, but Davidson knocked off Drake 45-14 to wrap up the bid. This past spring, Davidson won the school's first conference title since 1969 (Southern) and made its first-ever NCAA playoff appearance
Jackson State leads the SWAC East and Prairie View sits atop the west, even after its 31-29 loss at Alcorn State last Saturday. Jackson State's 21-17 win at Southern was the first over its conference rival since 2014 and clinched the Eastern division for Deion Sanders' team. JSU will face Prairie View A&M in the conference title game. Jackson State eliminated Alcorn State from contention with a 24-10 win over the Braves on Saturday. Prairie View plays its final conference game on November 27th at home against MVSU.
Another game to watch on Saturday was The Florida Classic, the annual rivalry between Tallahassee's Florida A&M and Daytona Beach's Bethune-Cookman. The computer favored the Rattlers by 11.82 points to end a 9-yaer losing streak in the series and they didn't disappoint with a 46-21 win.
Nicholls State was a 45-42 upset winner at home on Thursday night over a SE Louisiana team that had Southland Conference title hopes on the line. Cole Kelly was 36-of-47 for 385 yards and 3 TD's for the Lions, but the Colonels countered with RB Collin Guggenheim who rambled, rumbled, dashed and darted to three TD's while racking up 266 yards on 29 carries (9.17 yards per rush). Guggenheim's first two scores came just 95 seconds apart at the end of the first quarter and pushed Nicholls ahead after trailing 14-7. A pair of TD throws from Kelly produced the only scores of the second quarter and the Lions led 28-21 at the break. But Nicholls would score the first 24 points of the second half to build a 45-28 lead after the first play of the final quarter, but SELA wasn't done. A pair of 1-yard TD runs by Kelley made it 45-42 with 3:17 left, and the Lions missed on a 44-yard field goal with 5 seconds left that could have sent the game to overtime.
To clinch the Southland, SELA would have needed to beat Nicholls and then hope for an unlikely loss by Incarnate Word at Houston Baptist on Saturday. Instead, UIW clinched the AQ bid with the Lions' loss. The question now is whether or not SELA (8-3) and Nicholls (6-5) will garner at-large bids. There are 11 automatic bids to conference champions this season, and 13 invites.
Lehigh captured "The Rivalry", the most-played football rivalry in the nation, with a 17-10 win over Lafayette. In April, the Leopards defeated the Mountain Hawks 20-13. Lafayette leads the series, 80-72-5.
This week marks the end of the regular season in the FCS for all but five teams - Alabama State, Grambling State, MVSU, Prairie View A&M and Southern.
Paul Petrino's 100th game as head coach of Idaho was his last when the Vandals visited rival Idaho State on Saturday and the Vandals won 14-0 with all the points scored in the first quarter. Petrino was 34-66 over 9 seasons at Idaho, which was a member of the FBS when he was hired in 2013. In 2016, he led the school to a 9-4 record and a win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year. All 8 of his other seasons produced losing records.
2 teams will play 2 FCS teams this fall (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams will play 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups.
The final 4 FCS-FBS matchups of the year all went to the FBS as Georgia crushed Charleston Southern 56-7, Mississippi State whipped Tennessee State 55-10, North Carolina turned back Wofford 34-14, Texas A&M smacked Prairie View A&M 52-3..
The FBS finishes the season is 105-12 vs. the FCS. Since we began tracking this in 2003, the FBS teams are 1,574-140 (.918).
In addition, Howard downed D2 school Virginia-Lynchburg 56-6 in a game which was called before halftime after a bench-clearing brawl erupted. VUL had already lost 4 games to FCS schools this season by an average margin of 42-1/2 points.
Last year, 30 FBS teams played a total of just 34 games against FCS schools and the FCS won just 1 game (1-33). That honor also went to Jacksonville State with its 19-10 victory over FIU.
Here are the FCS wins in 2021:
September 2: UC Davis 19, Tulsa 17
September 2: Eastern Washington 35, UNLV 33 (2 OT)
September 3: South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23
September 4: Holy Cross 38, UConn 28September 4: Montana 13, Washington 7
September 4: ETSU 23, Vanderbilt 3
September 11: Duquesne 28, Ohio 26
September 11: Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17.
September 18: Incarnate Word 42, Texas State 34.
September 18: Northern Arizona 21, Arizona 19
November 6: Rhode Island 35, Massachusetts 22
November 13: Maine 35, Massachusetts 10
This was the only FCS win vs. the FBS in 2020:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10
In 2019, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games. These were the only FCS wins that season:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)
SAM HOUSTON STATE - Won 21 straight games overall (FCS longest).
Last: Won 35-9 at Abilene Christian on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Regular season complete (10-0). NCAA Playoff opponent TBD.
ALCORN STATE - Won 13 straight home games (FCS longest).
Last: Lost 24-10 at Jackson State on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (6-5)
MONMOUTH - Had won 16 straight conference games (was FCS longest).
Last: Lost 49-17 at Kennesaw State on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (7-4)
DARTMOUTH - Won 11 straight road games (FCS longest).
Last: Won 52-31 at Brown on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (9-1) Ivy League champs.
TEXAS SOUTHERN - Lost 18 straight road games (FCS longest).
Last: Lost 24-21 at Alabama State on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (3-8)
YOUNGSTOWN STATE - End road losing streak at 17 games (was tied for FCS longest).
Last: Won 35-18 at Southern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (3-7).
BUTLER - Snapped 14-game conference losing streak (was FCS longest)..
Last: Won 28-21 at Marist on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (3-8).
WAGNER - Lost 20 straight overall (FCS longest).
LAST: Lost 44-0 at home vs. Duquesne on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Next: Season complete (0-11).