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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | November 22, 2022

FCS playoff bracket: Predictions, picks for every FCS playoff game and round

2022 FCS bracket predictions: Every playoff game picked, through the national championship

The 2022 FCS playoffs are here! The full 24-team field was revealed on Sunday, Nov. 20. South Dakota State took the top seed, followed by Sacramento State and North Dakota State, respectively, at two and three.

With the complete field released and the first round starting on Saturday, Nov. 26, there's no better time to predict every round and game for the 2022 tournament.

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Here are my 2022 FCS championship predictions.

2022 FCS Playoff predictions

Click or tap here for a closer look at the bracket

FCS Playoff Predictions

First round | Nov. 26

Saint Francis (PA) at Delaware | 2 p.m. | ESPN +

Winner: Delaware

Saint Francis (PA) makes the playoffs after going undefeated in the NEC play for its second conference title ever. Meanwhile, Delaware enters the playoffs after losing three of its last four games.

At one point in the season, Delaware was a top-10 team in the country. Then came injuries to players like quarterback Nolan Henderson. I think even if Henderson has to battle through injuries, the Blue Hens are the better all-around team and get the win.

PLAYOFFS: See the complete 2022 FCS Championship field

Fordham at New Hampshire | 2 p.m. | ESPN+

Winner: Fordham

Co-CAA champion New Hampshire hosts Fordham in the first round. New Hampshire's run to the CAA title was impressive, but Fordham's explosive offense is more impressive. Yet, I think this game will end with over 70 points combined between the two teams, thanks to Fordham's leaky defense.

In a shootout, I trust Fordham quarterback and likely Walter Payton Award finalist Tim DeMorat to get the job done.

Gardner-Webb at Eastern Kentucky | 5 p.m. | ESPN+

Winner: Eastern Kentucky

Gardner-Webb had to close the season by playing playoff-level football, defeating North Carolina A&T in a winner-take-all Big South game. Eastern Kentucky won the ASUN-WAC shared bid to make the playoffs.

I have Eastern Kentucky winning its first-round game because of Parker McKinney, a top-10 FCS quarterback. I expect at least four touchdowns from the signal-caller in a win.

North Dakota at Weber State | 4 p.m. | ESPN+

Winner: Weber State

Weber State's only losses came to the second and third-seeded teams in the playoffs. North Dakota has also played a tough schedule, but Weber State has looked like a top-10 team all season. I see Weber State prevailing in what could be a low-scoring, defensive battle.

BRACKET: See the complete 2022 FCS playoff bracket

Southeast Missouri State at Montana | 10:15 p.m. | ESPN2

Winner: Montana

The first-round nightcap may be the biggest upset of the first round. Or it may not be.

Montana just snuck into the playoffs at 7-4, while Southeast Missouri State needed a coin flip to get in.

BUT

Both Southeast Missouri State and Montana could be missing their starting quarterbacks (Paxton DeLaurent and Lucas Johnson, respectively) in this playoff matchup. If one team gets their starter back and the other doesn't, I'd bank on that team to win.

For these predictions, I'm operating as if both quarterbacks won't play. In that case, I'll give the advantage to Montana, playing at home with a strong defense.

Idaho at Southeastern Louisiana | 7 p.m. | ESPN+

Winner: Idaho

Idaho has impressed on its way to 7-4. Southeastern Louisiana won the Southland auto-bid with an 8-3 record. I have Idaho getting the win here, led by a freshman quarterback.

If Gevani McCoy returns, I don't think this one will be close, thanks to the McCoy-to-Hatten connection. If McCoy doesn't play, I like what I saw from backup Jack Layne last week to feel confident in the Vandals.

Elon at Furman | 12 p.m. | ESPN+

Winner: Elon

I think this will be the best game of the first round. Elon and Furman were both guaranteed at-large teams heading into the final week of the season. It's a true toss-up game, but I give the advantage to Elon because of its talented backfield. Quarterback Matthew McKay and running back Jalen Hampton will carry the Phoenix to victory.

Davidson at Richmond | 2 p.m. | ESPN+

Winner: Richmond

Richmond was a game away from winning the CAA title. Davidson won its Pioneer Football League auto-bid but didn't win the conference championship. Richmond has been more battle-tested in 2022. Richmond's experience against tough opponents will help it get a first-round win.

AQ: Every automatic qualifying bid for the 2022 FCS playoffs

Second round | Dec. 3 | ESPN+

Delaware at No. 1 South Dakota State | 3 p.m.

Winner: South Dakota State

I was hesitant about this pick because a healthy Delaware team is capable of beating South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits are no stranger to playoff disappointments. However, Delaware hasn't been healthy in a while, and there's no telling what bumps and bruises the Blue Hens walk away with after the first round. South Dakota State wins this game.

Fordham at No. 8 Holy Cross | 12 p.m.

Winner: Holy Cross

Holy Cross needed a game-winning two-point conversion in overtime to defeat Fordham during the regular season. If the two schools meet in the second round, this game will be close again.

I predict Holy Cross beats Fordham for the second time this year. The Crusaders proved they can score enough to keep up with Fordham in the last outing. I think this go around, Holy Cross will turn to a motivated defense to get a few more stops and a win.

SEEDS: The importance of a top seed in the FCS playoffs, explained

Eastern Kentucky at No. 5 William & Mary | 2 p.m.

Winner: William & Mary

William & Mary has played solid, (mostly) mistake-free football all season. Giving head coach Mike London a week to prepare for a team gives me confidence that the Tribe will handle business against Eastern Kentucky.

Weber State at No. 4 Montana State | 3 p.m.

Winner: Weber State

In the regular season, Montana State defeated Weber State 43-38, a five-point margin. In the loss, Weber State blew a 24-9 lead, allowing a record four safeties from long snap errors on punts. That's an eight-point swing.

I think Weber State fixes its snapping issues and defeats Montana State in a rematch.

Montana at No. 3 North Dakota State | 3:30 p.m.

Winner: North Dakota State

Montana will bring either a fragile quarterback or a backup quarterback into the Fargodome. That won't bode well against North Dakota State's defense. The Bison get the win here.

2022 HBCU: Follow everything that happens in the 2022 HBCU football season

Idaho at Samford | 3 p.m.

Winner: Samford

If Idaho battles Samford in the second round, it should be a good game. I have Samford winning the contest because, on offense, quarterback Michael Hiers has consistently been one of the best in the nation. Combine that with a defense that has three ranked wins and another win over a playoff team, and you have the balance needed for a Bulldog victory.

Elon at No. 7 UIW | 2 p.m.

Winner: UIW

UIW wins its opening playoff contest as Elon won't have an answer for quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. and a high-scoring offense.

Richmond at No. 2 Sacramento State | 5 p.m.

Winner: Sacramento State

Sacramento State losing here would be no surprise given its recent playoff history. However, I think a two-quarterback system will cause Richmond fits, and the Hornets win a close one.

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Every champion in the history of FCS football

Quarterfinals | Dec. 9/10

No. 8 Holy Cross at No. 1 South Dakota State

Winner: South Dakota State

South Dakota State gets the win over Holy Cross in a battle of teams undefeated against FCS competition. The Jackrabbits have the defense to slow down Crusader quarterback Matthew Sluka's dual-threat capabilities. 

Weber State at No. 5 William & Mary

Winner: William & Mary

Weber State may be the popular pick here, with the Wildcats losing only two Big Sky games, but I see William & Mary winning this game. The Tribe have an elite pass-rushing duo that will wreak havoc in Weber State's backfield. 

No. 6 Samford at No. 3 North Dakota State

Winner: North Dakota State

North Dakota State defeats Samford because of the Bison's play in the trenches. North Dakota State will overpower Samford upfront in a quarterfinal win.

No. 7 UIW at No. 2 Sacramento State

Winner: UIW

This game features two of the top four highest-scoring offenses in the FCS. In what figures to be a shootout, it comes down to the quarterbacks. UIW has arguably the nation's best quarterback in Lindsey Scott Jr., while Sacramento State will turn to both Jake Dunniway and Asher O'Hara. The slight edge goes to Scott Jr. here, and that gives UIW the upset victory.

RING SZN: Schools with the most FCS championships

Semifinals | Dec. 16/17

No. 5 William & Mary at No. 1 South Dakota State

Winner: South Dakota State

South Dakota State is one of the most talented teams in the country. At every position on offense and most positions on defense, the Jackrabbits have a good, if not an elite player. That talent will overwhelm William & Mary and earn South Dakota State its second championship berth in three years.

No. 7 UIW at No. 3 North Dakota State

Winner: North Dakota State

North Dakota State has shown time and time again that it can shut down prolific offenses. When UIW comes to the Fargodome, the Cardinals will be the latest prolific offense to halt. From there, a physical Bison offense with TaMerik Williams and Hunter Luepke gets the job done.

MORE: The best nicknames and mascots in the FCS

2022 FCS Championship game

No. 3 North Dakota State vs. No. 1 South Dakota State

2022 FCS Champion: South Dakota State

A North Dakota State-South Dakota State matchup in the FCS national championship game may be the most anticipated title game in FCS history. The game will pit two of the biggest rivals in the FCS head-to-head in the postseason for the fifth time, but it'll be the first time a title is on the line.

🏆: FCS Championship Game info

South Dakota State has been the most successful team against the Bison in their dynastic run, with the Jackrabbits winning three straight games in the rivalry. South Dakota State already proved it can beat North Dakota State once this season; the Jackrabbits will do it again for all the marbles.

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