FCS Playoffs 2023: Bracket, full schedule, TV channels released

By Kevin Kelley -

The regular-season is complete, and now it’s time for the 2023 FCS Playoffs! The bracket, 10 automatic qualifiers, full 24 team field, and FCS Playoff Schedule were announced today by the NCAA.

Ten teams that won their respective conference championships move on to the 2023 FCS Playoffs as automatic qualifiers. Those teams are listed below:

  • Montana – Big Sky
  • Gardner-Webb – Big South-OVC
  • Villanova – CAA (via tie-breaker)
  • South Dakota State – MVFC
  • Duquesne – NEC
  • Lafayette – Patriot
  • Drake – Pioneer
  • Furman – Southern
  • Nicholls – Southland
  • Austin Peay – UAC

Below are the top eight seeds for the 2023 FCS Playoffs. The top eight teams receive a first-round bye and will host a second-round matchup on Saturday, Dec. 2:

1. South Dakota State
2. Montana
3. South Dakota
4. Idaho
5. UAlbany
6. Montana State
7. Furman
8. Villanova

The remaining 16 qualifiers (14 at-large) open the FCS Playoffs with a First-Round matchup on Saturday, Nov. 25. Below is the schedule for the first two rounds of the 2023 FCS Playoffs:

*All games ET and streaming via ESPN+.

Sac State at North Dakota – 1pm
Lafayette at Delaware – 2pm
NC Central at Richmond – 2pm
Chattanooga at Austin Peay – 3pm
Gardner-Webb at Mercer – 3pm
Nicholls at Southern Illinois – 3pm
Drake at NDSU – 3:30pm
Duquesne at Youngstown State – 5pm

*All games ET and streaming via ESPN+.

Duquesne/YSU at (8) Villanova – 12pm
NCCU/Richmond at (5) UAlbany – 12pm
UTC/Austin Peay at (7) Furman – 1pm
GWU/Mercer at (1) South Dakota State – 2pm
Sac State/UND at (3) South Dakota – 2pm
Drake/NDSU at (6) Montana State – 3pm
Lafayette/Delaware at (2) Montana – 9pm
Nicholls/SIU at (4) Idaho – 10pm

The FCS Championship Game for the 2023 season is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The game will be nationally televised by ABC at 2:00pm ET.

FCS Playoff Schedule

FCS Playoff Bracket (PDF)

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Comments (6)

For the love of God, why does the FCS put their Championship Game head to head with the NFL’s final Sunday? I suggest a Friday or Monday night when you can capture the entire football watching crowd, or even later on Saturday. Whoever schedules their Championship game needs to get the NFL’s schedule out when scheduling their premier game.

Sunday afternoon through Sunday night is the highest TV ratings period. Sure, the NFL is on, but with their bureaucratic platform that only allows a single household to view only 2 (!) games at a time without the NFL package, football watchers are sure to at least flip to the FCS title game more than a few times during NFL breaks. They’ve obviously done their homework and determined this time slot maximizes ratings, and therefore, revenue.

I also want two current UAC schools, Eastern Kentucky and Stephen F. Austin, to join the Sun Belt, and the MAC to add Southern Illinois and Youngstown State (both playoff participants this year) as full members with football, Cleveland State and Robert Morris as full non-football members, and Fordham and another playoff participant this year, Richmond, for football only.

The America East should add football as a sport by adding IUP, New Haven, and Shepherd from D2 as full members, joining Albany, Bryant, Maine and New Hampshire, plus Rhode Island as a football-only member.

The Big East should split into two conferences along geographic lines, the Midwestern schools from the Big East and Atlantic 10 would join with Detroit Mercy, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and Valparaiso to form a new conference, while the Big East adds Duquesne, Iona, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s.

The A-10 would reload by adding Drexel and Northeastern from the CAA and Winthrop from the Big South.

The CAA adds Norfolk State and NC Central to both the football league and the all-sports league, and Duquesne and Robert Morris to the football league only.

The WCC adds WAC schools Cal Baptist and Grand Canyon, and D2 schools Chaminade, Hawaii Pacific and Seattle Pacific while Seattle U goes to the MW.

The SoCon and Big South swap members along football lines, Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb to the SoCon (the home conference of Mercer who GWU is playing this Saturday), and UNC Greensboro to the Big South, which adds Queens (Charlotte) from the ASUN to get back to 8 members to keep their March Madness autobids.

The Horizon League adds three of the OVC’s non-football members – Morehead State, SIU Edwardsville, and Southern Indiana – plus indie Chicago State and Summit member Kansas City.

The OVC adds Chattanooga and ETSU from the SoCon and Kentucky State from D2.

The Summit adds UMSL from D2.

The ASUN adds Little Rock (previously a member from 1979-91 when it was the TAAC) from the OVC and Valdosta State from D2, the latter also joining the UAC.

The WAC adds Montana and Montana State who likewise become UAC members.

The Big Sky adds Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Central Washington, CSU-Pueblo, and Western Oregon from D2 – the former two don’t have football and would offset UC Davis and Cal Poly being football-only.

Pulling for Villanova Wildcats & Montana State Bobcats & would like to see Western Illinois Leathernecks & Houston Christian Cougars make it next year 2024 & hopefully WIU & HCU have winning season.

What a great Playoff Slate of Matchups on Saturday November 25!

Conference champs from weaker Conferences with only 1 Conference Member advancing to the 1st Round:
Duquesne Dukes-NorthEasternConference, Drake Bulldogs- Pioneer Football League, Nicholls Uni. state Colonels- Southland Conference, All playing Missouri Valley Football League @-large Franchises.
@-large SouthernConference UTN cottonmouth Moccassins (sp?) @ the United Athletic Conference Champion Austin Peay Uni. Governors.
MEAC Champion NC Central Uni. Eagles @ the Uni. of Richmond Spiders.