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Stan Becton | | November 21, 2021

Predicting every at-large selection to the 2021 FCS playoffs

Every touchdown from the FCS quarterfinals

It's almost time for the 2021 FCS playoffs, with the selection show tomorrow, Nov. 21 at 12:30 p.m. With all of the automatic qualifying bids decided, the 13 at-large selections are still up for grabs. 

AUTO-BID TRACKER: See every automatic bid to the FCS playoffs

Luckily for FCS fans around the country, I have predicted all 13 teams that will receive an invitation to the 24-team field come tomorrow afternoon.

Here are the 2021 FCS playoff at-large selection predictions

1. James Madison (10-1) CAA

This was the easiest selection of the at-large bids. With just one loss, James Madison may receive the highly regarded two seed come Sunday afternoon.

RANKINGS: See the latest FCS polls

2. Montana State (9-2) Big Sky

Montana State's loss in the Brawl of the Wild cost them the Big Sky's automatic bid, but the Bobcats remain in the playoff field thanks to an otherwise dominant regular season.

3. Eastern Washington (9-2) Big Sky

Eastern Washington likely receives a seed in this year's FCS playoffs with just two losses on its resume. The Eagles have one of the nation's top offenses led by arguably the nation's top quarterback.

4. Montana (9-2) Big Sky

Montana picked up a win in Week 12 over in-state rival Montana that almost guarantees it a seed in this year's playoff field. The Grizzlies hold a ranked FBS win and their two losses came to other top teams in the Big Sky.

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5. Missouri State (8-3) MVFC

Missouri State holds wins over South Dakota, Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa this season. Head coach Bobby Petrino's team made it through a gauntlet of a schedule to make the playoffs for the second-straight season.

6. South Dakota State (8-3) MVFC

Last year's national championship runner-up returns to postseason play as an at-large team after finishing 8-3. The Jackrabbits hold an FBS win and defeated rival North Dakota State in the Dakota Marker.

DAKOTA MARKER 2021: South Dakota State hands North Dakota State first loss to win Dakota Marker

7. UC Davis (8-3) Big Sky

UC Davis enters the FCS playoffs on a two-game losing streak. The Aggies will have to rediscover its top-10 form or face an early exit from this year's field.

8. Southeastern Louisiana (8-3) Southland

Southeastern Louisiana may have lost two of its final three games, but it still has reigning Walter Payton award winner Cole Kelley at quarterback. Kelley has the potential to right the ship and carry the Lions on a deep playoff run.

9. Florida A&M (9-2) SWAC

Florida A&M becomes the first SWAC team to make the FCS playoffs since 1997. The Rattlers have a dominant defense that scored two touchdowns in Week 12. With stars like the FCS's sacks and tackle for loss leader, linebacker Isaiah Land, Florida A&M's defense can keep it in any game.

HBCU: Keep up with scores and updates from the HBCU football season

10. Southern Illinois (7-4) MVFC

Southern Illinois' loss to Youngstown State in Week 12 came as a surprise, but wins over a talented South Dakota State team and a competitive North Dakota squad are enough to get the Salukis into the playoffs with a 7-4 record.

11. South Dakota (7-4) MVFC

South Dakota is one of the most interesting teams in this year's playoff field. The Coyotes lost to FCS programs Missouri State, Illinois State and North Dakota State, but defeated South Dakota State and Northern Iowa. How far South Dakota goes in this year's tournament depends on which Coyote team shows up.

WATCH: South Dakota shocks South Dakota State on a Hail Mary

12. Stephen F. Austin (8-3) AQ7

Stephen F. Austin holds just two FCS losses, one of which coming to reigning champion Sam Houston. Losses aside, it's Stephen F. Austin's head-to-head win over Eastern Kentucky that gets the Lumberjacks into the playoffs.

13. Northern Iowa (6-5) MVFC

UNI is my last-team-in as an at-large in this year's FCS playoffs. UNI holds three great wins over Big Sky champion Sacramento State and MVFC foes South Dakota State and Southern Illinois. None of the teams on the bubble can match this resume.

First team out

Rhode Island (7-4) CAA

Rhode Island would have been in as an at-large team if not for a Week 12 loss to Elon. With that loss, the Rams are the first team out of the 2021 FCS playoffs. Despite having an FBS win over UMass, Rhode Island's win over Delaware has only become less impressive as the season progressed.

Other teams that just missed out in my predictions

Eastern Kentucky (7-4) AQ7

  • Eastern Kentucky misses the playoffs because the Colonels do not have a notable win this season.

VMI (6-5) SoCon

  • VMI lost three straight games to end the season. That is enough to knock the Keydets out of the playoff picture.

Mercer (7-3) SoCon

  • Mercer lost a chance at an automatic bid, falling to ETSU in Week 12. While the Bears only have two FCS losses, their best win comes against a 6-5 Chattanooga team.

William and Mary (6-5) CAA

  • William and Mary is another program that fell out of the playoff picture with three straight losses to end the season. The Tribe hold a win over a likely seeded team in Villanova, but that isn't enough to sneak into the playoffs.

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