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McFeely: The final FCS Simple Ratings System rankings are ... something

NDSU ranked eighth in SRS, behind teams like Samford, Holy Cross and William & Mary.

North Dakota State fans Colton Huschka and Alison Bunnell celebrate a big defensive stop by the Bison against Incarnate Word during the NCAA FCS semifinals at the Fargodome on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

FARGO — The NCAA's Simple Ratings System is one criteria used by the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs committee to determine the postseason field and seedings.

The SRS posted on the NCAA's web page hasn't been updated since 2019, so I requested a copy from the FCS media contact at the organization.

The rankings are, for lack of a better word, interesting.

As the rankings say, "The NCAA SRS is a rating system designed by Kevin Hutson and John Harris of Furman University, in consultation with the members of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee. The rating system provides ratings for all FBS, FCS, and Division II teams. The ratings for the FCS teams are provided to the committee each week."

According to the NCAA, factors that influence a team's rating including three main factors.


• Strength of schedule (which considers the ratings of the teams that a team has played).

• Weighted win/loss factor (which is weighted based on home/away and whether an opponent was from a higher/lower division).

• Margin of victory (which is capped at 21 points).

The SRS doesn't at all match the committee seedings (again, the SRS is only one of several factors that go into selecting the field and seeds).

The playoff committee seeds were:

1. South Dakota State
2. Sacramento State
3. North Dakota State
4. Montana State
5. William & Mary
6. Samford
7. Incarnate Word
8. Holy Cross

The top eight teams in the SRS were:

1. Sacramento State
2. South Dakota State
3. William & Mary
4. Samford
5. Holy Cross
6. Jackson State
7. Weber State
8. North Dakota State


The ninth-rated team was Montana State (Jackson State, a Southwestern Athletic Conference team, doesn't participate in the FCS playoffs).

Take the rankings for what they're worth. The Sagarin computer rankings seem to better indicate the relative strength of FCS teams, while some look at the Massey ratings.

Bottom line: The playoff field is subjective, just as it's always been.

Here are the final SRS rankings of the top 40 teams, as shared with playoff committee members on Nov. 20.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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