South Dakota State was ranked first in the FCS playoffs with 24 teams


South Dakota State and Sacramento State secured the top two seeded spots in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs when the 24-team field was announced Sunday.

South Dakota State (10-1) will make an 11th straight appearance in the postseason. The Jackrabbits, who lost to Sam Houston in the 2020 championship game, were automatically nominated as the Missouri Valley Football Conference winners. Sacramento State (11-0) won the Big Sky Conference automatic bid. Neither the Jackrabbits nor the Hornets have ever won the FCS championship.

The top 8 seeds, all receiving a bye into the playoffs beginning Saturday, also include No. 3 North Dakota State (9-2), No. 4 Montana State (10-1), No. 5 William & Mary (10-1), #6 Samford (10-1), #7 Word Incarnate (10-1), and #8 Holy Cross (11-0).

North Dakota State, the defending champion and winner of nine of the last 11 titles, made it into the field for the 13th straight year. The Bison have won 41 playoff games, the most ever. They defeated Montana State 38-10 for last season’s title.

Montana State won part of the Big Sky Conference title and will be in the playoffs for 12th and fourth time in the last five years. In 1984 the Bobcats won the title.

William & Mary will make their 11th playoff appearance since 2015. The Tribe won the Colonial Athletic Association title on Saturday, defeating Richmond at large 37-26. Samford won the Southern Conference in his sixth appearance.

Incarnate Word was widely promoted along with Southeastern Louisiana in the Southland Conference as a co-champion. Southeastern Louisiana hosts Idaho on Saturday (7-4).

Holy Cross received the Patriot League’s automatic offer for a fourth consecutive postseason appearance.

This year’s field includes seven programs that have won national championships and one team, Gardner-Webb (6-5), who will make their first appearance in the playoffs. The Runnin’ Bulldogs play Eastern Kentucky Saturday (7-4).

Other first-round games include Saint Francis, Pa. (9-2) at Delaware (7-4), Fordham (9-2) at New Hampshire (8-3), North Dakota (7-4) at Weber State (9-2), Southeast Missouri State (9- 2) at Montana (7-4), Elon (8-3) at Furman (9-2) and Davidson (8-3) at Richmond (8-3).

The playoffs conclude with the national championship on January 8th in Frisco, Texas.

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