The second round of the FCS playoffs is here after round one brought big-time plays and exciting finishes. With eight second-round games up next, here are some burning questions that will be answered this week.
7 questions to be answered in the second round of the FCS playoffs
1. What Delaware team shows up?
Delaware hung 56 points on the board in the first round of the FCS playoffs after entering the postseason losing three of its last four games. The Blue Hens opened the postseason looking more like the team ranked No. 6 earlier in the season than the team on a losing streak to close the season.
Now, Delaware heads to the top overall seed. If the team that showed up in round one shows up against South Dakota State, we are in for a good game. We'll have to wait and find out which version of the Blue Hens arrives in Brookings.
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2. Is South Dakota State ready to put past playoff failures behind it?
South Dakota State has failed to advance out of the second round in six of its 11 playoff appearances. When the Jackrabbits have advanced past the first two rounds, they've yet to win an FCS Championship.
South Dakota State enters the 2022 postseason with the top seed in the FCS, and with it, high expectations. South Dakota State won't have an easy test to open the second round as historical FCS power Delaware comes to town. If the Jackrabbits want to keep their past failures in the past, it'll start in round two.
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3. Is Holy Cross for real?
Holy Cross is one of two unbeaten FCS playoff teams, yet the Crusaders only received the No. 8 seed in the postseason. That seed reflects what the committee thinks of Holy Cross' undefeated season, with only four of its 11 wins coming against teams above .500. Many have questioned how good this Holy Cross team is, but the Crusaders can answer all questions with an opening playoff win over co-CAA champion New Hampshire.
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4. Who wins the Montana State-Weber State rematch?
Montana State and Weber State met in Bozeman on Oct. 22, with the Bobcats winning 43-38. The two Big Sky foes are set to meet again in the second round of the playoffs.
If you're a Weber State fan, you can look to the four safeties allowed on punts for hope in the rematch. That's an eight-point swing in favor of the Wildcats.
If you're a Montana State fan, you can feel confident entering the second round because the Bobcats won the first matchup despite allowing a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown.
Montana State and Weber State have reasons to feel they can perform better in the second meeting than in the first. All eyes will be on this game to see which team can prevail.
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5. Is UIW built for the playoffs?
The Cardinals averaged 52.9 points per game en route to a 10-1 record that included an FBS win. Southland offensive player of the year Lindsey Scott Jr. has accounted for 57 total touchdowns and over 4,000 total yards of offense. Scott is a finalist and one of the favorites for the Walter Payton Award. On defense, UIW is led by Kelechi Anyalebechi, a Buck Buchanan Award finalist and one of the best linebackers in the country. The Cardinals only allow 19.09 points per game.
Yet, we've seen teams with high-flying offenses sputter in the postseason and put their defense in a bind before. Furthermore, this is a UIW program that has never made it past the second round of the FCS playoffs. Is this Cardinal team, centered around a prolific offense, built for postseason success? We'll find out sooner rather than later.
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6. Is North Dakota State-Montana a title-worthy matchup?
If you would have told FCS fans before the season that North Dakota State would face Montana in the playoffs, many would have assumed the schools would be meeting in the championship game. Instead, the Bison and Grizzlies meet in the second round. Both of these teams came into the year with title expectations. North Dakota State and Montana have reached peak rankings of No. 1 and No. 3, respectively. This game has all the elements of a high-stakes matchup and while it's not for a title, it's still win or go home. We could be in for an all-time classic in just the second round.
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7. Can Sacramento State win a playoff game?
In the last three seasons (including this year) that Sacramento State has played football, it has won the Big Sky championship and received a seed in the FCS playoffs. Despite regular-season success, the Hornets are 0-2 in the postseason, losing every second-round game at home.
Sacramento State faces a similar challenge in 2022, hosting Richmond in the second round. The Hornets are undefeated this season, and look better than they did entering their last two postseasons. Will Sacramento State finally get in the postseason win column?