The best non-conference games in the 2022 FCS season include a budding rivalry between two Bears and rematches from last season's playoffs. These non-conference games will also likely impact playoff seeding and at-large bids.
Here are the top non-conference games in the 2022 season.
For the fourth time since 2020, Missouri State and Central Arkansas meet on the gridiron. Central Arkansas swept the 2020-21 games between the schools, while Missouri State bounced back to win in fall 2021. In what's becoming a mini "Battle of the Bears" rivalry in FCS football, the two programs aptly nicknamed "Bears" will play once again in 2022.
Southern Illinois and UIW reached the second round of the 2021 FCS playoffs. The two teams will face off in 2022, but each enters under different circumstances. The Salukis bring back their top quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Meanwhile, UIW lost its head coach and starting quarterback this offseason. Nonetheless, this game remains one to watch
This game is a rematch of last year's FCS playoff game that went down to the wire. UT Martin won by one point, thanks to a fourth-quarter touchdown. In 2022, both teams are in the top 15 of the preseason rankings.
South Dakota and Montana were each FCS playoff teams in 2021. The Coyotes bring back an intriguing quarterback in Carson Camp. He'll face Montana's two top-four finishers for the Buck Buchanan Award in linebacker Patrick O'Connell and cornerback Justin Ford.
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North Carolina A&T and North Dakota State were each picked to win their conference — the Big South and MVFC, respectively — by their conference in the preseason. The Aggies are coming off a 5-6 season, while the Bison won the 2021 FCS national championship.
UC Davis and South Dakota State last played in the first round of the 2021 FCS playoffs in a game that resulted in a blowout Jackrabbit victory, 56-24. UC Davis will again make the trip to Brookings, South Dakota, this time in search of an upset over a likely top-five ranked South Dakota State team.
Sacramento State has won the Big Sky conference title in each of the last two fall seasons of FCS play. Northern Iowa is a perennial power in the FCS, almost always in the playoffs or right on the bubble. This game should be a good one, and could have at-large playoff implications down the road.
Dartmouth and Sacred Heart each finished 2021 as conference champions, winning the Ivy League and NEC, respectively. Since the Ivy League doesn't send its champion to the FCS playoffs, this could be Dartmouth's one chance to face a playoff team in 2022... if it repeats.
Two high-level Massachusetts schools face off as Holy Cross battles Harvard. Holy Cross is the three-time defending Patriot League champion, while Harvard seemingly always finishes near the top of the Ivy League standings. This game should be a great showing from two of the best northern FCS teams.
Two of the top HBCU football programs face off as Florida A&M meets South Carolina State. Last year, the Rattlers beat the Bulldogs 30-7, but South Carolina State went on to win the Celebration Bowl. Could this be an early preview of the 2022 Celebration Bowl?
Campbell and Jackson State brought in two of the top FCS recruiting classes in 2022. Now, the teams will face off in late October. With both teams projected to be in their conference title race late in the season, this non-conference game can be a great tune-up before the final stretch of games.
By Week 11, we'll likely know where Bryant stands in the Big South conference title race. If it's near or at the top of the standings, this game could be a clash of two potential playoff teams. That also means Holy Cross has to be on the path of defending its conference title too.