Sports

Best FCS nickname – bracket-style

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(STATS) – Welcome to an FCS tournament in which North Dakota State may have the same chance as … Marist?

Believe it. This is a battle of the nicknames – a march to the best one in the FCS.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No seeds, no regionalization, just a bracket of head-to-head matchups to honor the most unique, striking, powerful and, well, cool-sounding nickname.

A number of them are shared by the 125 schools, so that cuts down the field. Plus, we combined Black Bears with Bears and Runnin’ Bulldogs with Bulldogs, which creates a field of 82.

Let’s tip, er, kick off.

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Opening Round

The teams (well, nicknames) that square off in a rather large play-in round are picked randomly. The most notable nickname to get bounced: the (Saint Francis) Red Flash, who draw a particularly tough matchup (think Western Illinois at Weber State in the first round of the 2017 FCS playoffs).

Gamecocks over Fighting Hawks

Raiders over Rams

Spiders over Hornets

Skyhawks over Racers

Spartans over Flyers

Governors over Hatters

Red Foxes over Demons

Toreros over Vikings

Wildcats over Bengals

Mustangs over Redhawks

Lumberjacks over Tigers

Rattlers over Red Flash

Keydets over Colonels

Vandals over Blue Devils

Salukis over Crusaders

Jaguars over Huskies

Blue Hens over Pirates

Buccaneers over Aggies

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Round of 64

The next matchups are picked randomly to be assigned to the overall bracket. Some good nicknames fall here, especially if you’re someone who likes to say “Sycamores.” The Big Sky Conference – the largest in the FCS – fares quite well.

Blue Hens over Pioneers

Coyotes over Keydets

Jackrabbits over Mocs

Delta Devils over Braves

Bearkats over Lions

Salukis over Big Red

Bobcats over Governors

Bulldogs over Hawks

Lumberjacks over Owls

Mustangs over Terriers

Vandals over Sycamores

Grizzlies over Buccaneers

Hoyas over Redbirds

Eagles over Colonials

Thunderbirds over Leopards

Raiders over Blue Hose

Red Foxes over Quakers

Spartans over Great Danes

Seawolves over Paladins

Mountain Hawks over Penguins

Gamecocks over Leathernecks

Cowboys over Cardinals

Bison over Bears

Crimson over Tribe

Spiders over Golden Lions

Catamounts over Jaguars

Rattlers over Phoenix

Fighting Camels over Big Green

Skyhawks over Dolphins

Toreros over Golden Eagles

Seahawks over Wildcats

Panthers over Dukes

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Round of 32

The big showdown sees the (Florida A&M) Rattlers oust the (Campbell) Fighting Camels. It might be a different story if they went by Flying Camels. Hey look, the (North Dakota State) Bison advance again. Oh wait, that could also be Bucknell or Howard.

Blue Hens over Coyotes

Jackrabbits over Delta Devils

Bearkats over Salukis

Bobcats over Bulldogs

Lumberjacks over Mustangs

Vandals over Grizzlies

Hoyas over Eagles

Thunderbirds over Raiders

Red Foxes over Spartans

Seawolves over Mountain Hawks

Gamecocks over Cowboys

Bison over Crimson

Spiders over Catamounts

Rattlers over Fighting Camels

Skyhawks over Toreros

Seahawks over Panthers

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Sweet 16

Some of the bird nicknames aren’t so sweet as the competition gets particularly serious. Wait a minute, the power FCS conferences – Big Sky, CAA and Missouri Valley – are standing strong. Art imitates life.

Jackrabbits over Blue Hens

Bobcats over Bearkats

Vandals over Lumberjacks

Thunderbirds over Hoyas

Seawolves over Red Foxes

Bison over Gamecocks

Spiders over Rattlers

Skyhawks over Seahawks

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Elite 8

Eight was great while it lasted, but all the birds have flown away as the field thins. Miss those Fighting Camels, too.

Jackrabbits over Bobcats

Vandals over Thunderbirds

Seawolves over Bison

Spiders over Skyhawks

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Final Four

The perennial favorite (South Dakota State) Jackrabbits take down the new/old (Idaho) Vandals in the opener. The nightcap? Just another Saturday in the CAA as the (Richmond) Spiders survive the (Stony Brook) Seawolves.

Jackrabbits over Vandals

Spiders over Seawolves

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Nickname Championship

CAA versus Missouri Valley? Well, that sounds familiar. This is a true toss-up. The difference? The Spiders are just too creepy sounding. Get caught in their web, FCS fans.

Spiders over Jackrabbits

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