2021 FCS Season

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 and taking back its crown.

2021 FCS Over FBS Victories (12)

  1. UC Davis @ Tulsa, 19-17
  2. Eastern Washington @ UNLV, 35-33 (2 OT)
  3. South Dakota State @ Colorado State, 42-23
  4. Holy Cross @ Connecticut, 38-28
  5. Montana @ Washington, 13-7
  6. East Tennessee State @ Vanderbilt, 23-3
  7. Duquesne @ Ohio, 28-26
  8. Jacksonville State @ Florida State, 20-17
  9. Incarnate Word @ Texas State, 42-34
  10. Northern Arizona @ Arizona, 21-19
  11. Rhode Island @ Massachusetts, 35-22
  12. Maine @ Massachusetts, 35-10

Playoff Bracket, Notes, and National Champion

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.

The home team is listed on the bottom of each matchup in the bracket below while an asterisk (*) denotes the number of overtime periods played if a game went to overtime. 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.

Conference Changes

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.

Team Changes

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 Ohio Valley. 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. Also leaving the MEAC was North Carolina A&T, which left for the Big South.

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.

TeamOld ConferenceNew Conference
Abilene ChristianSouthland (FCS)WAC (FCS)
Bethune-CookmanMEAC (FCS)SWAC (FCS)
Central ArkansasSouthland (FCS)WAC (FCS)
Eastern KentuckyOhio Valley (FCS)WAC (FCS)
Jacksonville StateOhio Valley (FCS)WAC (FCS)
LamarSouthland (FCS)WAC (FCS)
North Carolina A&TMEAC (FCS)Big South (FCS)
PresbyterianFCS IndependentsPioneer Football League (FCS)
Sam Houston StateSouthland (FCS)WAC (FCS)
St. Thomas (MN)MIAC (Division III)Pioneer Football League (FCS)
Stephen F. AustinSouthland (FCS)WAC (FCS)
Tarleton StateFCS IndependentsWAC (FCS)
Utah Tech
(Dixie State)
FCS IndependentsWAC (FCS)

2020 Season ———————————————————————————————————————————————————- 2022 Season