As the final weekend of FCS games approaches before the selection committee unveils the 2019 FCS Playoffs on Sunday’s selection show, a few games have major playoff implications that determine the routes of the top teams.
No. 3 Montana (9-2, 6-1 Big Sky) vs. No. 8 Montana State (8-3, 5-2 Big Sky)
Both the Grizzlies and the Bobcats are certain locks for the 2019 FCS Playoffs, but this game will have implications on the top eight teams that get a first-round bye. A win from Montana State could see both have the luxury of a bye, but if Montana goes to Bozeman, Montana, and gets the job done, it opens the door for another team to slide into the No. 8 spot.
Montana is led by redshirt senior quarterback Dalton Sneed, who commands an offense that averages 458.9 yards per game. Sneed tosses 299.3 passing yards per game, and the Griz put up 159.6 yards on the ground.
Montana State has eight players averaging over 20 rushing yards per game and boasts the No. 8 rushing offense in the nation. However, even with a win, the Bobcats can’t clinch an automatic bid to the playoffs. With three teams — Montana, Sacramento State and Weber State — sitting at 6-1 conference records heading into the final weekend, a potential five-way share for the Big Sky regular-season title is possible.
The result of this game will help determine JMU football’s path to Frisco as well. At No. 2, the Dukes could potentially host the No. 7 seed in the quarterfinals and the No. 3 seed in the semifinals.
A MSU loss means No. 9 Northern Iowa or No. 10 Villanova can move up if each of those teams takes care of business. The Panthers face one-win Western Illinois, and Villanova hosts Delaware. With the playoff implications the Brawl of the Wild has, the game could prove to be a classic.
Maine (6-5, 4-3 CAA) vs. New Hampshire (5-5, 4-3 CAA)
Right now, most FCS bracketology websites have Maine and UNH on the outside looking in. However, both teams are receiving votes in the latest STATS FCS top 25, meaning a convincing performance from either team could boost its resume to the playoff selection committee.
With the CAA title wrapped up by JMU, the winner of this game seals at least a share of third place. If Albany loses to Stony Brook, it’d be a multi-team tie for second place.
The key player in this matchup is UNH freshman quarterback Max Brosmer. Maine has the No. 2 pass defense in the CAA, only allowing 205.8 yards through the air per game. The Blackbears also have senior wide receiver Earnest Edwards, who’s on top of the CAA in all-purpose yards with 175.9 yards per game.
Albany (7-4, 5-2 CAA) vs. Stony Brook (5-6, 2-5 CAA)
Another in-state rivalry is on the cards for the FCS’ final weekend of regular-season play. This time, it’s two teams from New York, with one of them looking to play spoiler.
Albany comes into this game on the right side of the bubble for this year’s playoff outlook. Picked to finish last in the CAA preseason poll, the Great Danes have rattled off four wins in their last five games. A win puts them in a prime position to stay in the playoffs, but a loss to the Seawolves could put them deeper in the bubble.
While Stony Brook doesn’t have the best record, it’s battled in close games throughout the year. It took JMU to overtime but fell 45-38, and it lost to New Hampshire 20-14 the following week. The Seawolves are coming off a 17-10 defeat to Delaware and haven’t won a game since late October.
However, there’s no reason to write off SBU. In a season that didn’t see the team reach expectations, defeating in-state rival Albany and ending the season on a winning note can set up momentum for the next season. It’d also put the Danes’ postseason in jeopardy, adding another element of motivation for a rival.
Contact Noah Ziegler at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.