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FCS Playoffs quarterfinals! Here’s a schedule, bracket, preview, and open thread.

InForum

The NFL Draft was last week or yesterday or something. Maybe people were drafted.

The only real news to come out of this was that (1) may Justin Fields’ career rest in peace as he was drafted by the Chicago Bears, and (2) only Penn State had as many first-round draft picks as lowly Northwestern. You idiots.

To the list of teams with more first-round draft picks than [/deep breath] Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska (lol), Purdue, Rutgers, and wisconsin, add the North Dakota State Bizon.

Say: the Bizon also play today in the FCS Playoffs!

[Seamless transition: Check.]

Here is a schedule of those games, along with my Irrefutably Good Opinion on who you should root for in those playoffs.

PS: If you missed the SWAC Championship yesterday between Alabama A&M and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, you missed out. An electric KR TD by the Golden Lions’ Tyrin Ralph, a pair of absolutely butchered extra points including one blocked by AAMU and returned for the safety, three passing touchdowns by the Bulldogs’ Aqeel Glass including one on the first play from scrimmage, a UAPB fumble recovery touchdown, and a generally batshit game... Damn, that was fun.

Anywho, today’s games:

North Dakota State Bizon (7-2) at [2] Sam Houston State Bearkats (7-0)

2pm | ESPN | NDSU -2.5 | O/U 45.5

No Trey Lance, evidently no problem for the Bizon?

Absent the Pride of Marshall, MN—who wasn’t needed as a quarterback in Minneapolis, of course—Fargo Community College hasn’t exactly replaced Lance at QB, with frosh game-manager Cam Miller—from Solon, Iowa, a fact that we surely won’t hear repeated in the next two years—largely charged with handing the ball off to RBs Dominic Gonnella and Jalen Bussey. The freshman duo was up to the task in the first round against Eastern Washington, rolling up 163 and 143, respectively, of the Bizon’s 422 rushing yards on 57 carries. (Miller threw a pair of TDs to 6’6”, 266# junior TE Noah Gindorff of Crosby, MN. Gindorff had 2 catches for 5 yards and 2 TDs; Miller was 6/11 for 50 and 2 TDs. Bizon football!)

If you’re wondering, NDSU lost in a 38-14 stunner at Southern Illinois in their second contest of 2021, then dropped the Missouri Valley title to South Dakota State, 27-17, in the Fargodome in the last game of the regular season. Bananas.

Ostensibly the Bearkats are better or something. They’re 7-0, though they struggled with such luminaries as Southeast Louisiana (43-38), Northwestern State (24-16), and Monmouth (21-15). That’s why NDSU is favored, I assume. SHSU only allows 1.78 ypc, so this could make for a more interesting showdown as the Bizon do what they do.

Do they play Big Ten teams anytime soon?

  • SHSU: Nothing coming up; a 2022 game at Texas A&M and a 2024 trip down the road to Rice are the only P5 games on the Bearkats’ schedule.
  • NDSU: Like anyone would be that stupid again. The Bizon head west, instead, with a 2022 trip to Arizona and a 2024 game at Colorado for BUFFALOBATTLE.

Rooting Interest:

This one’s easy—the fewer masturbatory Big Strong Plains Football dynasties, the better. When a team takes to calling something by a [Home Stadium] [Cardinal Direction from Home City] moniker (a la “Kinnick East” or whatever) the way the Bizon fans call Frisco, TX, “Fargo South”, it’s time for them to lose. Go Bearkats.

Delaware Fighting Blue Hens (6-0) at [4] Jacksonville State Gamecocks (10-2)

2pm | ESPN3 | J’ville St. -3 | O/U 42

I don’t know how the Gamecocks are a 4-seed but 8th in the FCS polls...so let’s just not question it, huh?

(This Jacksonville is in Alabama. Again: Don’t question it.)

We’ve got the OVC champion Gamecocks—with a 13-10 loss to Austin Peay the only blemish on their record—and dual-threat QB Zion Webb rolling in with a beefy resume, having played an abbreviated fall schedule that included a 19-10 win over Florida International (not the Sunblazers!).

Meanwhile, the Fightin’ Blue Hens have quietly put together a solid season, winning the Colonial behind a stifling defense that didn’t give up a touchdown for its first two games and an offense where Dejoun Lee and Khory Spruill do the bulk of the rock-toting. Ask QB Nolan Henderson to throw the Hens back into a game, though, and, uh...I wouldn’t hold your breath. UD will need to grab the upper hand in this one, though the quality of teams they face in the CAA and Route 1 Rivalry...leaves something to be desired.

Do they play Big Ten teams anytime soon?

  • Delaware: WE GOT A RUTGERS SHOWDOWN: September 18. On the Banks. LET’S GET WEIRD. (Also, the Hens go to Penn State in 2023 and 2027. Fun, but less fun than a potential 17-15 RU-UD squeaker in Piscataway.)
  • J’ville St: The Gamecocks seem like they’d be reliable Chickenshit Saturday fodder, but apparently they prefer their paychecks from the ACC—a 2020 loss to FSU and 2017 loss to Georgia Tech, with a neutral-site game with UAB in 2021 and another trip to Tallahassee later this year.

Rooting Interest:

I’m inclined to support the Fightin’ Blue Hens here, as the progenitors of the winged helmet and just for the fact that they take the time to append “Fighting” to an already ridiculous nickname.

North Dakota Fighting Hawks (5-1) at [3] James Madison Dukes (6-0)

5pm | ESPN2 | JMU -3 | O/U 52.5

The Dukes remain proof positive that defense wins—or gets you adjacent to!—championships. Another season in Harrisonburg yielded yet another conference title, with Curt Cignetti picking up right where now-ECU head coach Mike Houston left off. JMU gives up just 2 yards a carry and allowed the fourth-worst passing efficiency for opposing offenses. RBs Jawon Hamilton and Percy Agyei-Obese do the lion’s share of the work for the Dukes, which is a good thing, because QB Cole Johnson is...a question mark.

Could that be a problem against North Dakota? UND averages 3.7 sacks a game and walloped Missouri State, 44-10, despite not having played in a month.

The Fightin’ Saltines are a simple proposition on offense, though: Otis Weah, Otis Weah, Otis Weah. The Moorhead, MN, product averages 7.1 a pop and has 8 TDs over six games this year. If that fails, freshman QB Tommy Schuster will be the go-to, but he hasn’t had to deal with too many “and long” situations...and when he did, against the Bizon, he had his least efficient game of the year.

Do they play Big Ten teams anytime soon?

  • North Dakota: HELL YEAH, NEBRASKA, COME ON DOWN. The Hawks visit the Huskers in 2022 and 2026. They’re a pretty reliable FBS paycheck-taker, with a 2021 trip to Utah State, 2023 to Washington, 2024 to Iowa State, and 2025 to K-State.
  • James Madison: Not really the Big Ten’s bag to head east for a Virginia school—the Dukes visit Louisville in 2022, North Carolina in 2024, and Virginia Tech in 2025.

Rooting Interest:

Never cheer for a school affiliated with Nazi memorabilia collectors. Go Dukes.

Southern Illinois Salukis (6-3) at [1] South Dakota State Jackrabbits (6-1)

8pm | ESPN2 | SDSU -15.5 | O/U 54

Finally, some offense.

After an early loss to North Dakota, the Jacks found their lane, with QB Mark Gronowski getting it done with his legs and arm—and the RB tandem of Pierre Strong Jr. and Isaiah Davis crushing it on the ground.

That was the combination that pummeled the Salukis, 44-3, in Brookings back on March 20, when SIU spun the chamber and unloaded a round right into its own feet—three interceptions and a lost fumble will do that to you.

The Salukis have been an enigma all year—wins over NDSU, Northern Iowa, and Weber State, losses to Missouri State and North Dakota—but they’ve rarely been boring: see the batshit 55-48 non-conference game with Southeast Louisiana to close the regular season. The amazingly-named QB Stone Labanowitz—who took the reins midseason—has shown ability to throw it all over the park, particularly to big-play threat Avante Cox, and RB Justin Strong has taken over the Salukis’ rush attack...which you think would be good, since...running dogs and all.

Do they play Big Ten teams anytime soon?

  • SIU: Sigh. WHY, NORTHWESTERN? The Salukis head to the big city suburb in 2022 for a date with NU, over to Chambana in 2026, and to Madison in 2027 to have beer dumped on them by the drunks. Trips to K-State in 2021, Northern Illinois in 2023, and Kansas in 2024. Ambitious, and maybe a win over the Jayhawks soon!
  • SDSU:
FB Schedules

Oh, but wait...

FBS Schedules

Oh, we’re not done!

FB Schedules
1-2 at worst.

Rooting Interest:

I like the Jacks. Tom Daschle’s papers are at SDSU (compared to Paul Simon’s at Southern Illinois), and Wooden Legs Brewing makes some damn good beer, while Molly’s Pint in Carbondale-adjacent Murphysboro tried to put a pickle in my saison. Yuck.

Plus, Brookings is just a 30-minute drive from Bank Brewing in Hendricks, MN.

RESEARCH ADVANTAGE: JACKS.
BEER ADVANTAGE: JACKS.
I HAVE SPOKEN.


...time to get a beer and watch some football. Here’s your thread for the action.