How the FCS conferences ranked in 2018

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - CAA Football appeared primed to be the top conference in the FCS in 2018, but the new script didn't reach the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

By season's end, the MVFC reigned again behind national champ North Dakota State and the Big Sky even tracked down the CAA for the second spot.

Here's a postseason ranking of the FCS conferences for the 2018 season:

1. Missouri Valley Football Conference (preseason ranking: 2) - Disregard that there were only three playoff teams. North Dakota State (15-0) made it two straight and a record seven national titles in eight years, joined in the playoff semifinals for the second consecutive year by South Dakota State. UNI was the other playoff team and won one game. A .741 winning percentage (20-7) in FCS nonconference matchups was the nation's best and Illinois State earned an FBS victory.

2. Big Sky Conference (3) - The tri-champs in the largest FCS conference - Eastern Washington, Weber State and UC Davis - reached the quarterfinals and Montana State added a playoff win. UC Davis and Northern Arizona picked off the FBS.

3. CAA Football (1) - After gaining a record six playoff qualifiers, the CAA disappointed with only semifinalist Maine and second-round qualifier James Madison gaining postseason wins. Maine, the conference champ, and Villanova nabbed FBS wins.

4. Southern Conference (4) - Seven of the nine teams went at least .500 in conference games. Furman was disappointed not to join fellow conference champs Wofford and ETSU in the playoffs.

5. Ivy League (7) - Princeton (10-0) and Dartmouth (9-1) finished with top-20 rankings, while Harvard got back to a winning record. The league was 19-7 outside the Ancient Eight.

6. Southland Conference (5) - Nicholls and Incarnate Word shared the title in an unpredictable race, while Lamar validated itself as a third playoff qualifier. Nicholls earned an FBS win.

7. Ohio Valley Conference (6) - Although Jacksonville State's 36-game conference winning streak ended against Southeast Missouri, the Gamecocks went on to claim a fifth straight title. The conference lacked marquee nonconference wins.

8. Big South Conference (8) - For the second consecutive year, Kennesaw State swept through the conference and reached the national quarterfinals. Even with five FBS losses, the conference was 20-17 out of conference.

9. Northeast Conference (9) - Duquesne earned a share of the conference title with Sacred Heart before claiming the second playoff win in conference history. Conference members continued to schedule well out of conference.

10. Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (11) - North Carolina A&T beat Jacksonville State as well as an FBS opponent (East Carolina) for the third straight season before it repeated as champs of the MEAC and Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. Bottom-tier teams were more competitive than usual.

11. Patriot League (10) - Colgate was the only team with a winning record for a second consecutive season. Plus, the league's nonconference record was 8-28 once again.

12. FCS Independents (14) - North Dakota let a 5-2 start end at 6-5, and Hampton and North Alabama didn't play particularly strong schedules, but the three all had winning records.

13. Southwestern Athletic Conference (12) - Conference champ Alcorn State and Southern were the class of the conference. The 10 teams went a combined 3-26 against Division I opponents.

14. Pioneer Football League (13) - San Diego has gone 8-0 in league games for three straight seasons, but Davidson and Stetson surprised with winning seasons. Against D-I nonconference opponents, the league was 2-16.

Updated January 30, 2019

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