In the first round of the 2021 FCS playoffs, UT Martin upset Missouri State and, after falling into a late-season funk, Southern Illinois made surprisingly easy work of South Dakota on the road. Meanwhile, Incarnate Word took down Stephen F. Austin in overtime, and Holy Cross scored its first-ever playoff win with a touchdown pass in the final seconds.
It was a lot of fun! But now the top eight seeds join the party, and the playoffs really begin. Let's talk about what you need to know for this weekend's round of 16.
First, here are the second-round pairings and their corresponding SP+ projections. (Full FCS, Division II and Division III SP+ ratings are housed here.) All times are Eastern, and all games will be on ESPN+.
• No. 1 Sam Houston 38.2, Incarnate Word 30.2 (Saturday, 3 p.m.)
• No. 8 Montana State 26.6, UT Martin 14.7 (Saturday, 4 p.m.)
• No. 5 Villanova 31.8, Holy Cross 19.2 (Friday, 7 p.m.)
• South Dakota State 30.8, No. 4 Sacramento State 21.2 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
• No. 6 Montana 30.0, Eastern Washington 27.5 (Friday, 9 p.m.)
• No. 3 James Madison 41.7, Southeastern Louisiana 32.9 (Saturday, 2 p.m.)
• Kennesaw State 24.4, No. 7 ETSU 20.1 (Saturday, 2 p.m.)
• No. 2 North Dakota State 33.4, Southern Illinois 19.7 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
The action picks up immediately. Even if Holy Cross can't keep up with Villanova in Friday evening's first game, the second half of the Friday doubleheader could be a classic.