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FCS Play-Off Preview: First Round

Before we get into the first round match-ups, I had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Fraaze, who is one of the Admins in the FCS Fans Nation Group on Twitter. I only planned on having him on for like 15 minutes, but we had a blast talking FCS football and the playoffs for almost an hour. Matt is one of the best guys. He knows his stuff, and he’s super cool. Oh, and he loves his Bison. Matt will be joining me again next week for a first round recap! Follow him on Twitter @MattFraaze for all your FCS needs. Like I said, he knows his stuff! We had a blast!

Unbiased Bison Admin Matt Fraaze!

Last Sunday, the FCS College Football Playoff Committee released their sixteen team field for the play-offs. This year, unlike previous years, the play-off field was only sixteen teams. The top four seeds went to (1) South Dakota State, (2) Sam Houston State, (3) James Madison, and (4) Jacksonville State. All playoff games will be held on Saturday. In my opinion, there will be a couple of blow-outs, but some of the first-round match-ups could be very exciting. Let’s take a look at the first round games below!

(1) South Dakota State vs Holy Cross

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 3:00 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: The Jackrabbits from South Dakota State head into the playoffs with the well-deserved number one seed. They knocked off rival, and perennial powerhouse, North Dakota State 27-17 last weekend at the Fargodome. Holy Cross won the Patriot League to get the automatic bid. Holy Cross has shown a lot of promise this spring. However, the Jackrabbits are just too good, especially at home. Prediction: (1) SDSU 38, Holy Cross 17

(2) Sam Houston State vs Monmouth

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: Noon ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: Head Coach K.C. Keeler and his Bearkats are the real deal this spring. After years of choking in big games, can the Bearkats finally make some noise in the play-offs? If you’re asking me, yes, absolutely. Senior quarterback Eric Schmid has been sensational during his career, and would love nothing more than to lead the Kats on a deep play-off run. Monmouth knocked off Kennesaw State to get the Big South’s auto-bid. Monmouth has a bright future, but the Bearkats should roll easily. Prediction: (2) SHSU 48, Monmouth 27

(3) James Madison vs VMI

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 2:00 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: After being at the top of the polls all spring, James Madison has to be disappointed to only get the three seed. However, the committee got it right. The Dukes had cancellations on top of postponements all season, so while they have to be mad with the 3-seed, they will be ready to play. VMI has been one of the top stories in the FCS this spring. They started off 5-0, the best start in program history. The Keydets won the Southern Conference’s auto-bid. I would pick VMI over almost any team in the FCS right now, just not THIS James Madison team. However, it should be a close one, don’t be afraid to take the Keydets. Prediction: (3) James Madison 34, VMI 30

(4) Jacksonville State vs Davidson

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 2:00 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: Jacksonville State absolutely deserved to get a top-four seed. The champions of the Ohio Valley Conference have played 11 games in less than six months, so they are a proven contender. The defense has been the key to JSU’s success. They have shut down teams all season, and have on of the best secondaries in the FCS. Davidson is making the program’s first ever playoff appearance. Head coach Scott Abell is a hell of a coach, but Jacksonville State is on a mission. Prediction: (4) JSU 27, Davidson 13

Sacred Heart at Delaware

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 7:00 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: Even though James Madison got the three seed, it was the Blue Hens from Delaware that won the CAA’s auto-bid. Delaware hasn’t looked this good in a couple of years. They should easily roll over Sacred Heart. That’s not a knock on Sacred Heart, champions of the Northeast Conference. Hens running back Dejoun Lee, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, has been outstanding this year. I see the Hens rolling over Sacred Heart quite easily. Prediction: Delaware 35, Sacred Heart 17

Missouri State at North Dakota

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 4:00 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: With five teams from the MVFC getting into the play-offs, the odds were pretty high there would be at least one first-round match-up with two MVFC schools. Well, here it is. Missouri State snuck into the playoffs this year, behind first-year head coach Bobby Petrino. Petrino has obviously been a guy who coached at the highest level, so hopefully this play-off experience has the program headed in the right direction. Unfortunately for Missouri State, North Dakota is really good this year, especially at home. Signal caller Tommy Schuster, a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, has been great with his arm and legs. Otis Weah and Luke Skokna form one of the best one-two running punches in the FCS. Give me the Hawks at home. Prediction: UND 38, Missouri State 24

Southern Illinois at Weber State

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 4:00 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: This is the first of the two games that I think will be tightly contested on Saturday. Southern Illinois is capable of anything. We saw that when they upset, and dominated North Dakota State in late February 38-14. The Salukis are a power team, relying on their defense and controlling the clock. Weber State, on the other hand, is the opposite. The Wildcats played in a lot of close games late in the season, which has made experts sour on them. However, I am fully in on Weber State. Freshman quarterback Bronson Barron has been incredible this year. He’s a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, but he’s had a season that could be considered for the Walter Payton Award, as a freshman. I do worry that his first post-season game might rattle him, and the team a bit, but I love Weber State here. Prediction: Weber State 38, Southern Illinois 21

Eastern Washington at North Dakota State

Date: Saturday April 24th, 2021 | Time: 3:30 PM ET

Stream: ESPN3

Preview: The committee gave everyone a treat in the first round. Two national power-houses meet in the first round. It reminds me of the Michigan State vs UCLA match-up in the first four of the NCAA Tournament this year. Eastern Washington has one of the best offenses in the country. Senior signal-caller Eric Barriere has grown a lot since his last meeting with the Bison. Barriere and his Eagle teammates fell to NDSU in the 2019 FCS National Championship 38-24. The quarterback was 13/25 for 198 yards passing, and two interceptions. However, head coach Matt Entz and the Bison have other ideas. Cam Miller, the mobile freshman quarterback saw the majority of the snaps versus South Dakota State last weekend, and we should see more of the same this weekend. Zeb Noland has a cannon, but the mobility factor makes Miller and the Bison offense much more dangerous. This one should be must-watch television. Prediction: Eastern Washington 31, NDSU 28

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