Just eight teams remain after two rounds of 2021 FCS championship action. As the quarterfinals approach, the time is right to re-rank the teams left standing.
The FCS playoff committee does not re-rank teams in the playoffs; this will not impact the actual field. Yet, this re-ranking of the remaining playoff teams will provide a look at how teams have played in the playoffs so far and who has impressed. That said, let's look at the new rankings for FCS playoff teams.
Re-ranking the FCS teams entering the quarterfinals
1. Sam Houston
While Sam Houston's game in the second round came down to the wire, the Bearkats hold on to the top spot. Until a team ends Sam Houston's 22-game win streak, it deserves to be number one.
2. James Madison
After a fantastic game from Cole Johnson, James Madison leapfrogs North Dakota State to take the second spot. The Dukes showed dominance on offense and defense, holding the nation's top-scoring offense in check all afternoon.
3. North Dakota State
North Dakota State falls, but it's not because of a disappointing performance in the second round. The Bison dominated in the second round, but the passing game had one interception to zero touchdowns. North Dakota State is great at what it does, playing defense and running the ball, but the lack of the added element drops the Bison.
Montana won its rematch against Eastern Washington, hobbling opposing star quarterback Eric Barriere in the process. The defense played great, with Buck Buchanan finalist Justin Ford taking his ninth interception back for six points. The Montana offense rolled to its highest-scoring output of the season, building great momentum as the Grizzlies move forward in the playoffs.
Villanova stays put at number five in this re-ranking of playoff teams. The Wildcats defense had another strong showing against Holy Cross. Villanova running back Justin Covington showed an ability to carry an offense. The Wildcats will need more of that to advance to the next round.
6. South Dakota State
South Dakota State is the only unseeded team that advanced to the quarterfinal round. The Jackrabbits dominated each of their playoff opponents. Running backs Pierre Strong Jr. and Isaiah Davis form a two-headed monster in the South Dakota State backfield; together, the tandem has what it takes to carry the Jackrabbits to the first title in school history.
7. Montana State
Even with a quarterback change, Montana State played well in its opening playoff game. The Bobcats didn't allow an offensive touchdown in round two. If defense truly wins championships, Montana State will prove it in this year's playoffs.
ETSU needed a miraculous comeback to defeat Kennesaw State in the second round. That was a Kennesaw State team without its starting quarterback, who exited early in the game with an injury. The Buccaneers were an onside kick away from being home for the quarterfinals. That close escape drops ETSU from its seventh spot.