(STATS) – FCS playoff results don’t count toward the annual challenge series between the Big Sky and Missouri Valley conferences, but an encore to the regular season may be brewing.
The two conferences led with three spots each when the NCAA Division I championship committee released a top 10 ranking of playoff contenders Wednesday night. North Dakota State, the two-time defending champion, was No. 1.
Joining the Bison (9-0) out of the MVFC were No. 4 South Dakota State (7-2) and No. 6 Northern Iowa (6-3). The Big Sky had No. 3 Weber State (7-2), No. 5 Sacramento State (6-3) and No. 8 Montana (7-2).
Also ranked were No. 2 James Madison (8-1) and No. 10 New Hampshire (5-3) from CAA Football, No. 7 Central Arkansas (7-2) from the Southland Conference and No. 9 Furman (6-3) from the Southern Conference.
The one-time public release of committee rankings served to build excitement toward the 24-team playoff field. The pairings will be released on a selection show Nov. 24 (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
“Our committee looks forward to watching teams compete and play over the final three weeks of the regular season,” said Greg Seitz, the selection committee’s chair and the Jacksonville State athletic director. “There is still a great amount of football to be played that will have an impact on individual teams’ résumés as today’s release of the top 10 is just a snapshot at this point of the season.
“We’ll continue our dialogue with our regional advisory committees before we as a national committee reconvene in the coming weeks for our final evaluations and select the teams that will compete in the championship.”
The playoffs consist of 10 conference champions which receive automatic bids and 14 teams that go in as at-large selections. Eight teams are seeded and receive byes for the first round Nov. 30. All games are played at campus sites except for the championship on Jan. 11 in Frisco, Texas.