INDIANAPOLIS — The field of 24 teams competing for the 2021 NCAA Division I Football Championship was announced today by the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee.
Sam Houston (10-0), the defending champions and winners of the ASUN/WAC Conference, earned the top seed in their 13th appearance in the championship. The Bearkats have won 21 straight contests.
North Dakota State (10-1) is the number two seed earning the automatic qualifying berth from the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison are making their 12th overall appearance with the highest all-time FCS Championship winning percentage (.925).
James Madison (10-1) is the number three seed after securing an at-large bid. The Dukes will make their eighth consecutive appearance in the championship and 18th overall.
Sacramento State (9-2) rounded out the top four seeds after going undefeated in the Big Sky Conference. The Hornets will make just their second trip to the FCS Championship.
Villanova (9-2) secured the number five seed after earning the Colonial Athletic Association automatic qualifier. The Wildcats will make their 14th appearance in the FCS Championship.
Montana (9-2) will be the sixth seed as an at-large selection out of the Big Sky Conference. The Grizzlies finished the season winning their final five games and will be making their 25th appearance in the FCS Championship.
East Tennessee State (10-1) clinched the seven seed. The Buccaneers won the Southern Conference title and will be making their third FCS Championship appearance and first since 2018.
Montana St. (9-2) rounds out the top eight seeds receiving first round byes. The Bobcats are an at-large selection after earning nine Division I wins in the regular season.
During the previous 44 years of the championship, 22 schools have won a national title, nine of which earned a place in this year’s bracket.
The 2021 championship field consists of 11 automatic qualifiers and 13 at-large qualifiers. Team pairings are determined primarily according to geographical proximity.
Teams from the same conference will not be paired for first round games. (except for teams from the same conference that did not play against each other during the regular season; such teams may play each other in the first round).
2021 NCAA DI FCS AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS (11)
|Conference||Team||2021 Record||PrevIOUS||PrevIOUS||PrevIOUS||LAST APPEARANCE|
|ASUN Conference/WAC||Sam Houston||10-0||12||23||11||2020|
|Big Sky||Sacramento St.||9-2||1||0||1||2019|
|Big South||Kennesaw St.||10-1||3||4||3||2019|
|Missouri Valley Football||North Dakota St.||10-1||11||37||3||2020|
|Ohio Valley||UT Martin||9-2||1||0||1||2006|
2021 NCAA DI FCS CHAMPIONSHIP AT-LARGE SELECTIONS (13)
|Team||Conference||2021 Record||PrevIOUS||PrevIOUS||PrevIOUS||last appearance|
|Eastern Wash.||Big Sky||9-2||14||19||13||2020|
|Montana St.||Big Sky||9-2||10||9||9||2019|
|UC Davis||Big Sky||8-3||1||1||1||2018|
|South Dakota St.||MVFC||8-3||10||11||10||2020|
Longest Consecutive Tournament Appearances in the Championship (Including 2021)
- North Dakota St. – 12
- South Dakota St. – 11
- James Madison – 8
Consecutive Tournament Appearances in the Championship Ending
- Weber St.– 5
- Monmouth – 2
- North Dakota – 2
Most Tournament Appearances in the Championship (Including 2021)
- Montana - 25
- UNI – 22
- James Madison – 18
- Eastern Wash. – 15
- Villanova – 14
- Sam Houston – 13
- North Dakota St. – 12
- Montana St. – 11
- South Dakota St. – 11
Schools Making the Championship for the First Time
Longest Stretch between Championship Appearances
- Florida A&M – 2001
- UT Martin – 2006
- SFA – 2014
Schools by Conference
- Missouri Valley Football Conference – 6
- Big Sky Conference – 5
- ASUN/WAC – 2
- Colonial Athletic Association – 2
- Southland – 2
November 27 at San Antonio, Texas, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
SFA (8-3) at UIW (9-2)
November 27 at Springfield, Missouri, 4 p.m. (ESPN+)
UT Martin (9-2) at Missouri St. (8-3)
November 27 at Worcester, Massachusetts, Noon (ET) (ESPN+)
Sacred Heart (8-3) at Holy Cross (9-2)
November 27 at Brookings, South Dakota, 3 p.m. (ET) (ESPN+)
UC Davis (8-3) at South Dakota St. (8-3)
November 27 at Hammond, Louisiana, 7 p.m. (ET) (ESPN+)
Florida A&M (9-2) at Southeastern La. (8-3)
November 27 at Cheyney, Washington, 4 p.m. (ET) (ESPN+)
UNI. (6-5) at Eastern Wash. (9-2)
November 27 at Kennesaw, Georgia, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN+)
Davidson (8-2) at Kennesaw St. (10-1)
November 27 at Vermillion, South Dakota, 6 p.m. (ET) (ESPN+)
Southern Ill. (7-4) at South Dakota (7-4)
Television schedules and game times for all rounds of the 2021 championship will be updated at NCAA.com. All rounds of the FCS playoffs can be seen on ESPN’s family of networks with first-round games taking place Saturday, November 27 and concluding with the national championship game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Saturday, January 8 at Noon (ET) on ESPN2.