2017 FCS Playoff Picks

Semifinals FCS Playoff Game Previews

South Dakota State at James Madison

Many are calling for the Jackrabbits to pull off the upset here after the Dukes barely pulled out the win last week thanks to a last-second field goal. However, James Madison has the best defense in the country, and it’s going to be hard for Taryn Christion to find much success against the Dukes. South Dakota State has a porous defense and James Madison might win this one big.

Sam Houston State at North Dakota State

The Bison are large favorites in this game after dismantling San Diego and Wofford in each of the last two weeks. North Dakota State is 21-1 all-time in the postseason in the FargoDome and has been able to easily handle Sam Houston State in each of their three previous playoff meetings this decade. Jeremiah Briscoe will need to have the game of his life for the Bearkats to win here.

Quarterfinals FCS Playoff Game Previews

Weber State at James Madison

This will be the toughest test James Madison has faced all year. The Dukes are the favorites to repeat as champions, but the Wildcats have been the most underrated team in the country this season. Stefan Cantwell has proven to be a great addition from the JUCO ranks and may be able to lead Weber State to the upset.

Wofford at North Dakota State

It’s not easy to go into the FargoDome, but Wofford has a knack for keeping it close. The Terriers chew up clock and play good defense and don’t get blown out. North Dakota State is feeling good after hammering San Diego last week, however this is a much better team. Wofford will be able to keep this one close.

New Hampshire at South Dakota State

The Wildcats’ luck is about to run out. New Hampshire was very fortunate to get past Central Arkansas last week and needed to force four turnovers in order to get the victory. South Dakota State has been one of the hottest teams in the country, and Taryn Christion has been playing out of his mind. Look for the Jackrabbits to lay a whooping on New Hampshire in this one.

Kennesaw State at Sam Houston State

Few FCS teams have been as successful this decade as Sam Houston State. The Bearkats are still looking for their first title, though, because North Dakota State was so dominant earlier in the 2010s. Kennesaw State is happy just to have reached this point, and the Owls have yet to see a passing attack like this. Jeremiah Briscoe has been on fire lately, and I look for him to throw all over this defense.

Second Round FCS Playoff Game Previews

Stony Brook at James Madison

The Seawolves were on cruise control last week against lowly Lehigh but now must face the best team in the FCS. James Madison has won 23 straight games and the program’s one loss in the Mike Houston era came against North Carolina. The Dukes have the best defense in the country and will look to shut down Joe Carbone in this one.

Kennesaw State at Jacksonville State

Being the No. 3 seed has not been good for the Gamecocks. Jacksonville State was the No. 3 seed in both 2014 and 2016 and was upset in its first game each year. The Gamecocks will try to avoid that fate this season, while Kennesaw State looks to keep its dream season alive. The Owls run a triple option offense that is tough to stop, but the Gamecocks defense did a pretty good job against Georgia Tech earlier in the year.

Furman at Wofford

These teams squared off in their season opener and will do battle again with a spot in the Quarterfinals on the line. In the first meeting, Wofford won 24-23 after Furman failed to get a two-point conversion following a last-minute touchdown. The Terriers have been winning games by the skin of their teeth all year but are an underdog in this one.

South Dakota at Sam Houston State

Points are going to come early and often as Jeremiah Briscoe and Chris Streveler duke it out to see who will make it to the Quarterfinals. Neither team has a solid defense, but these are two of the best offenses in the country with the Bearkats leading the nation in passing and Streveler emerging as the favorite for the Walter Payton Award.

New Hampshire at Central Arkansas

Defense will be on the agenda in this one. The Wildcats’ offense has been held to 16 points or less in four of its last five games and has only been getting it done thanks to a very stingy defense. Unfortunately, the Bears’ defense might be even better and they have a solid quarterback in Hayden Hildebrand.

Northern Iowa at South Dakota State

The Panthers beat the Jackrabbits by 20 when they played them earlier this season and will look to use the same formula that worked so well for them the first time. Northern Iowa was able to grind out yards on the ground and controlled the clock for more than 40 minutes in that one. South Dakota State’s Taryn Christion will need to have a good game if the chalk is going to hold up.

San Diego at North Dakota State

If it wasn’t for Kennesaw State, San Diego would be this year’s Cinderella. The Toreros raised a lot of eyebrows because of how thoroughly they thumped Northern Arizona last week, but now they have to travel to play in the loudest venue in the FCS. The Bison are 18-1 in the playoffs in the FargoDome, but were knocked off here last season by eventual champion James Madison.

Weber State at Southern Utah

This will be the third rematch of the Second Round games and could be the most thrilling. We were robbed of a good game last time after Weber State’s standout quarterback Stefon Cantwell was injured in the second quarter and the Wildcats couldn’t move the ball the rest of the way. The Thunderbirds went on to win that game 32-16 on their way to a Big Sky Championship, but the Wildcats will look to have the last laugh.

First Round FCS Playoff Picks

South Dakota at Nicholls State

The Coyotes are big road favorites against the third-best team from the Southland Conference, but going into a hostile environment is never easy. Chris Streveler is going to get his against the Colonels defense. The question is whether or not Chase Fourcade can keep up.

Lehigh at Stony Brook

Lehigh is only in the postseason by virtue of winning the Patriot League and should get pasted by Stony Brook. The Mountain Hawks have by far the worst run defense in the country and the Seawolves will be able to run all over their front.

Monmouth at Northern Iowa

No one would have expected the Big South to get two teams into the postseason at the start of the year, but the committee rewarded 9-2 Monmouth with an at-large berth. The Hawks have not beaten a decent team all year and are going to have their hands full with Northern Iowa.

Western Illinois at Weber State

The Wildcats are the most underrated team in the FCS and could easily have finished the year undefeated if not for an injury to Stefan Cantwell and a few costly turnovers against Cal. However, Western Illinois is a road favorite against them based on the perceived strength of the MVC.

Central Connecticut State at New Hampshire

There are a handful of teams making their first-ever appearance in the FCS postseason and Central Connecticut State is one of them. The Blue Devils shocked Duquesne to win the Northeast Conference and claim an automatic bid. They have a decent chance to get their first playoff win against a New Hampshire team that has had an up-and-down year.

Samford at Kennesaw State

Interestingly enough, these teams already met once this season. Kennesaw State traveled to Samford and suffered its lone loss of the season in Birmingham. Devlin Hodges had a great game, but so did the Owls rushing attack. Who will emerge victorious this time around?

Furman at Elon

These squads met once already this season, too. The Phoenix traveled to Greenville and beat the Paladins by three points, but that hasn’t stopped the odds makers from making Elon a home underdog in this one.

San Diego at Northern Arizona

The Toreros have dominated the Pioneer League for almost a decade and have claimed the conference’s automatic bid in three of the last four seasons. They scored their first-ever playoff win last year when they knocked off Cal Poly but were then hammered by North Dakota State. San Diego will look to go even further this postseason, but Case Cookus and Northern Arizona will be a tough matchup.

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