The FCS playoffs begin this weekend and soon the field will be reduced from 24 to 16. While all teams are still alive, let’s take a look at what potential championship matchups could be based on how the bracket fell this year and the storylines that would accompany those hypothetical matchups.
Sure, some of those are probably very unlikely, but for fun, here are some rematches, homecomings, and all-around exciting pairings Frisco could offer us this season.
Good chance to happen
NDSU gets revenge opportunity against SDSU
Everyone’s been talking about this idea for a while; North Dakota State and South Dakota State meet on the turf to determine a national champion in what is undoubtedly the greatest Dakota marker game ever played. This year could be the best chance for fans as SDSU and NDSU have race numbers 1 and 3 respectively. Each only has to win three games and most if not all of those games could be at home for either team. If the bison and the jacks both make it, it will be a must-watch for any FCS fan, especially those in the MVC. The state of South Dakota has won three straight games in the series, including Fargo this year, but its northern neighbors are undefeated in the big game.
Vigen meets his old team (again)
Last season, Montana State head coach Brent Vigen had a chance to train against his former team in the championship, but things didn’t go as planned. Vigen, who served intermittently as an assistant for NDSU from 2001 to 2014, won his fair share of titles with the Bison but is now trying the Bobcats. In just his sophomore year, he returned MSU to the playoffs and earned the program another spot in the tournament. However, the state of North Dakota was the “cats” bugbear of the postseason, and you have to think that Vigen and co. would be happy for another chance to see the bison. If they did, it would be happening all over again at Toyota Stadium, and this year’s Montana State team could make things more interesting than last year.
Jacks, Hornets maintain the rankings and fight for the title
It just so happens that the committee gets it spot on and the #1 and #2 go all the way to clash in the championship. In fact, it happened twice in a row last year, and honestly, fans deserve a showdown between the state of South Dakota and the state of Sacramento. The Hornets offer one of the best rushing attacks in the country with a double strike from Cameron Skattebo and Asher O’Hara. However, the Jackrabbits have a defense designed to stop the run. Since both teams consistently have home advantage, this pairing is very possible. After all, they only lost one game together (against FBS Iowa). If it came to fruition, it would have the makings of an all-time runner with the talent scattered across the field.
Maybe could happen
Weber State gets second chance at Sac State
When the Wildcats and Hornets met earlier this month, Sac State won the nail biter to keep their undefeated season alive. It was also one of only two losses Weber State suffered that year, but it was enough to throw Jay Hill’s team from a seeded position. WSU would have a tougher road to the title game, but they might be the best team not to get a bye in the bracket. Sacramento State flies high as No. 2 and has home field advantage on their side. If they get through their playoff woes and find a way to get some wins, the Hornets could easily be in Frisco in January. Last time they faced the Wildcats it was a 33-30 game and this time it would probably be just as good on a neutral field. Who wouldn’t be excited about an All Big Sky Championship?
Mike London meets Richmond
Well, we put this in the maybe could happen category, but we’ll make it clear; A lot would have to be right. Still, Mike London, headman of William & Mary, has done a great job with the Tribe since taking over in 2019. After W&M narrowly missed the playoffs last year, W&M won 10:1 this year and secured fifth place. However, London’s first coaching job was at Richmond in 2008 and 2009, where he actually won a national championship. There is a chance, albeit slim, that he could see his former team in a title shot this year. Richmond is staring down the run of a tough road that has Davidson and Sac State, but anything is possible.
Probably won’t happen
Montana, State of Montana Meet in Brawl of the Wild Act II
The Grizzlies barely crept into the playoff field, and that was thanks to the beatdown Montana State gave them in the regular-season Finals. The two Big Sky powerhouses have never met in the playoffs, which is a little surprising considering how often they both make it. This year, they were placed on opposite sides of the bracket, so they could technically meet in Texas, but it would cost a lot, especially on the Montana side. The Griz would have to outrun SEMO, North Dakota State and probably Sacramento State (whom they lost to earlier in the year) across the board. It would make a tremendous story if it came to fruition, but it’s quite unlikely.
FCS’ best QBs, Attacks fight for the title
Wouldn’t it be special to see two offenses like Fordham and Incarnate Word collide in the big game? UIW quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. has done nothing this season but light opposing teams with 3,791 passing yards and 50 touchdowns. Those numbers are only surpassed by Tim DeMorat, who happens to pilot the Rams. DeMorat has threw 53 touchdowns and is the only FCS passer for 4,000 yards this fall. Now imagine two signal callers being able to hit these numbers on the gridiron. What would no doubt be a long day for the defense would also be a spectacle for the fans. Incarnate Word is already one step closer to the championship than Fordham, and let’s face it, this is a really long way to go. Still, it’s fun to think about.
McKay clashes with former team
One of the biggest storylines in last year’s playoffs was the emergence of Montana State quarterback Tommy Mellott, who made his debut in MSU’s second round. Mellott got this opportunity because previous quarterback, Matthew McKay, entered the transfer portal days before the game. McKay found his way to Elon, where he helped the Phoenix win eight games and get back into the postseason mix. If Elon and Montana State won, they’d get together in Frisco, which would be a hell of a reunion for McKay and the Bobcats. Who knows how much bad blood there is left, but one thing is for sure; both sides would want to glue it together. This is a range again, however, as the Phoenix has a tough road ahead of it.