FCS playoffs projection
(STATS) - It will be easy to pay attention to North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central on Saturday when the two nationally ranked teams meet for the MEAC championship.
Question is, will there be reason to pay attention on Sunday?
Starting last season, the MEAC relinquished its automatic bid to the FCS playoffs to send its champion to the Celebration Bowl. Everybody else in the conference remains eligible for an at-large bid, although in most seasons - like last year - none will get one.
While a representative from the MEAC is no longer on the NCAA Division I FCS selection committee to champion for the teams, N.C. A&T (9-1) and N.C. Central (8-2) hope the losing team on Saturday will have done enough to earn an at-large bid.
An N.C. A&T team with a 9-2 record and an FBS win (Kent State) would have a stronger chance for a bid than N.C. Central at 8-3.
It's a bit awkward for the committee, of course, but these two teams will get a long look. Their three combined losses entering Saturday are to FBS teams. Plus, the MEAC has sent an at-large team to the playoffs before.
The playoff bubble will be filled with playoff contenders for the last couple bids, so they have to get the job done Saturday to be in the conversation Sunday morning. The 24-team pairings will be announced at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU.
PROJECTED BIDS BY CONFERENCE=
Prior to Nov. 17-19 games
*- automatic qualifier
Big Sky (3): Cal Poly (6-4), *Eastern Washington (9-1), North Dakota (9-2)
Big South (2): Charleston Southern (6-3), *Liberty (6-4)
CAA (4): *James Madison (9-1), Maine (6-4), Richmond (8-2), Villanova (7-3)
MEAC (1): North Carolina A&T (9-1)/North Carolina Central (8-2) loser
Missouri Valley (4): North Dakota State (9-1), *South Dakota State (7-3), Western Illinois (6-4), Youngstown State (7-3)
NEC (1): *Saint Francis (7-3)
OVC (1): *Jacksonville State (9-1)
Patriot (1): *Lehigh (8-2)
Pioneer (1): *San Diego (8-1)
Southern (4): Chattanooga (8-2), Samford (7-3), *The Citadel (10-0), Wofford (7-3)
Southland (2): *Sam Houston State (10-0), Central Arkansas (9-1)
Moved In: Maine (6-4), Wofford (7-3)
Dropped Out: Montana (6-4), New Hampshire (6-4)
On the Bubble: Fordham (7-3), Illinois State (6-5), Montana (6-4), New Hampshire (6-4), Weber State (6-4)
STATS PROJECTED PAIRINGS=
Top 8 seeds have first-round byes
Saint Francis-Lehigh winner at No. 1 seed North Dakota State
Maine-Chattanooga winner at No. 8 seed North Dakota
Western Illinois-Cal Poly winner at No. 5 seed Sam Houston State
Samford-Liberty winner at No. 4 seed James Madison
Villanova-Youngstown State winner at No. 7 seed Central Arkansas
San Diego-South Dakota State winner at No. 2 seed Eastern Washington
North Carolina A&T/North Carolina Central-Richmond winner at No. 3 seed Jacksonville State
Charleston Southern-Wofford winner at No. 6 seed The Citadel