In the FCS Huddle: UNH, NDSU 1-2 in FCS playoffs

( – Even on the day his New Hampshire football team became
the nation’s top-ranked team two weeks ago, coach Sean McDonnell conceded
something about the team they replaced at No. 1, North Dakota State.

“They’re the best team in the country,” McDonnell said.

Top-ranked New Hampshire earned No. 1 seed for the 24-team NCAA Division I
Football Championship on Sunday, but North Dakota State would appear to be the
team to beat heading into the postseason. The No. 2 Bison, also seeded
No. 2, have won the last three FCS national titles and are chasing an
unprecedented fourth in a row.

Along the way to their title three-peat a year ago, NDSU defeated New Hampshire
by 38 points in the national semifinals at the Fargodome.

As the top seeds this season, both teams would play at home through the
semifinals. The FCS championship game will be played on Jan. 10 in Frisco,

“It was very, very close in a much-discussed situation,” selection committee
chair Robert Hill said on the ESPNU2 selection show, “but we felt New
Hampshire, after losing their first game of the year against an FBS opponent
(Toledo) went undefeated the remainder of the season whereas North Dakota State
lost a conference midway through their conference season. So we felt like that
New Hampshire had the better of the two (playoff resumes) in terms of
consistency, and we went with New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire (10-1) enters the playoffs on a 10-game winning streak after
winning an outright championship in CAA Football. North Dakota State (11-1)
shared the Missouri Valley Conference title with Illinois State (10-1), the No.
5 seed. The Valley tied the single-season record of FCS qualifiers with five

All eight seeds receive first-round byes when the playoff kick off on Saturday.

Ohio Valley Conference champion Jacksonville State (10-1) earned the No. 3
seed, followed by Big Sky champion Eastern Washington (10-2) at No. 4, Illinois
State, Villanova (10-2) from the CAA at No. 6, Big South co-champion Coastal
Carolina (11-1) at No. 7 and Southern Conference champion Chattanooga (9-3) at
No. 8.


(Campus sites until the championship game)

(All times ET)


Saturday, Nov. 29

Sacred Heart (9-2) at Fordham (10-2), noon (ESPN3)

Indiana State (7-5) at Eastern Kentucky (9-3), 1 p.m. (ESPN3)

Morgan State (7-5) at Richmond (8-4), 1 p.m. (ESPN3)

Southeastern Louisiana (9-3) at Sam Houston State (8-4), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

South Dakota State (8-4) at Montana State (8-4), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)

San Diego (9-2) at Montana (8-4), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)

Liberty (8-4) at James Madison (9-3), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)

Stephen F. Austin (9-3) at Northern Iowa (8-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN3)


Saturday, Dec. 6

Sacred Heart-Fordham winner at No. 1 seed New Hampshire (10-1), 1 p.m. (ESPN3)

Indiana State-Eastern Kentucky winner at No. 8 seed Chattanooga (9-3), 1 p.m.

Morgan State-Richmond winner at No. 7 seed Coastal Carolina (11-1), 1 p.m.

Stephen F. Austin-Northern Iowa winner at No. 5 seed Illinois State (10-1), 2
p.m. (ESPN3)

Southeastern Louisiana-Sam Houston State winner at No. 3 seed Jacksonville
State (10-1), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

South Dakota State-Montana State winner at No. 2 seed North Dakota State
(11-1), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

San Diego-Montana winner at No. 4 Eastern Washington (10-2), 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

Liberty-James Madison winner at No. 6 seed Villanova (10-2), 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3)


Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Dec. 13

Second-round winners, TBA


Friday, Dec. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 20

Quarterfinal winners, TBA


Saturday, Jan. 10

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas

Semifinal winners, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)