Last week the playoff field for Division 2 and Division 3 was set, and we are still two weeks away from learning what four teams will compete in the fourth College Football Playoff. Today it was the FCS playoff field that was unveiled for the first time. Not surprisingly, defending national champion James Madison, the top-ranked team in FCS, took the top spot in the 24-team field.
At 11-0, it was expected the Dukes would be the number one overall seed. The Colonial Athletic Association champions are in the FCS playoffs for a fourth-straight season. The number two seed is a familiar name to those following FCS football. North Dakota State (10-1) took the second overall seed in the playoff field. The five-time national champs remains a force to reckon with once again and will hope to get a shot at playoff revenge against James Madison in this year’s championship game. It was James Madison that eliminated the Bison from the postseason last year with a 27-17 upset in the semifinals.
JMU went on to top Bo Pelini and Youngstown State in the championship game after the unseeded Penguins went on a miraculous run to the championship game. Youngstown State had taken out the No. 3 seed Jacksonville State (40-24) and No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (40-38) before falling against the No. 4 seeded Dukes. Youngstown State did not reach the postseason this year.
Jacksonville State takes the three-seed, followed by Central Arkansas, South Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Wofford and Southern Utah. Other automatic entrants through conference championship automatic qualifiers include Kennesaw State, Central Connecticut State, Lehigh, and San Diego. At-large teams making the field include Northern Arizona, Weber State, Monmouth, Elon, New Hampshire, Stony Brook, South Dakota, Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, Furman, Samford, and Nicholls State.
You can view the full bracket HERE.
Oklahoma’s running game will be fueled by young juggernaut Samaje Perine, one of the top young running backs set to take the spotlight in 2015. With Perine leading the ground attack at Oklahoma, David Smith took the opportunity to find a new football home in 2015, one that will likely give him a better chance to play a significant role in the offense. Smith will get that opportunity at Jacksonville State.
Smith announced his transfer decision on his Instagram account on Thursday morning. He will have two years of eligibility remaining as he moves to the FCS program.
Smith was sixth on the team in rushing in 2014 with 76 yards on 10 rushing attempts. One of those rushes was good for a touchdown for the sophomore.
Michigan State’s chances for repeating as Big Ten champions this year were nearly nixed in the season opener against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. A hit from Folo Johnson landed on the lower left leg of Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. Cook’s pass went for a touchdown to Tony Lippett in the easy win, but Johnson was flagged 15 yards for the low hit on the quarterback. After reviewing the hit on film this week, Cook left no gray area with his feelings about the hit.
To say Cook did not appreciate it would be putting it kindly.
“I thought it was a pretty bad cheap shot,” Cook told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “I’ve seen a lot of hits, growing up, watching TV and stuff like that. I’ve never seen a hit like that, so low and so late. I thought it was a really dirty hit. But I’m glad things aren’t as bad as it looked.”
Cook could have been seriously injured and really is fortunate to have been able to get up and walk (or limp) off the field on the play. Whether the hit was truly intentional or not may still be up for debate — it did look extremely suspicious — but the important thing here is Cook was able to return to the field and keep playing. Cook is ready to go for this weekend’s big game on the west coast at Oregon.