A sense of normalcy returned after the spring season and crowds also came back into the stadiums. In the end, it was a familiar team atop the FCS with North Dakota State returning to the FCS Championship.
2021 FCS Over FBS Victories (12)
- UC Davis @ Tulsa, 19-17
- Eastern Washington @ UNLV, 35-33 (2 OT)
- South Dakota State @ Colorado State, 42-23
- Holy Cross @ Connecticut, 38-28
- Montana @ Washington, 13-7
- East Tennessee State @ Vanderbilt, 23-3
- Duquesne @ Ohio, 28-26
- Jacksonville State @ Florida State, 20-17
- Incarnate Word @ Texas State, 42-34
- Northern Arizona @ Arizona, 21-19
- Rhode Island @ Massachusetts, 35-22
- Maine @ Massachusetts, 35-10
North Dakota State (14-1 Overall, 7-1 Missouri Valley Football Conference) went to its home away from home in Frisco and won its 9th FCS title in 11 seasons. The Bison easily dispatched Montana State (12-3 Overall, 7-1 Big Sky Conference) with a dominating 38-10 victory.
There was one change at the conference level for the 2021 season as a result of conference realignment. The WAC reinstated football and also housed three future Atlantic Sun Conference members for the season. That allowed the WAC to have an AQ for the 2021 FCS Playoffs. The Atlantic Sun will also sponsor FCS football starting with the 2022 season.
There were a plethora of teams changing conferences for the 2021 season. Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, Lamar, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin will be members of the WAC for the 2021 season after previously being members of the Southland. Also joining the WAC for 2021 were Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State from the OVC. The trio of Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, and Jacksonville State will then join the Atlantic Sun starting in 2022.
Two FCS Independents – Dixie State and Tarleton State – also became members of the WAC starting in 2021. They are ineligible for the FCS Playoffs until 2024 when they become full Division I members.
Two teams – Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M – left the MEAC to join the SWAC for the 2021 season. Meanwhile, the Pioneer Football League saw 2 schools join its ranks with Presbyterian (from FCS Independent status) and St. Thomas (MN) (from the Division III MIAC) becoming members. St. Thomas will not be a fully eligible Division I until 2026 as it completes a longer process moving up from Division III status.
After a 2020 campaign that was played in the spring of 2021 and featured 16 teams, the 24-team format returned in 2021. The top 8 teams were seeded and received a first-round bye while campus sites were used through the semifinal round. Frisco, Texas was the site of the FCS National Championship for the 12th straight season. The title game was held on January 8, 2022.