So who is going to win it all in the FCS in 2022? Will it be a new team? Or, will new FCS blood take the trophy on stage when it comes to FCS playoff bracket picks? GridIrion Heroics FCS writer Brian McLaughlin takes a shot at it.
Also, when it comes to the first round — who will be happy as hell Saturday night after winning in the first round, and whose season will be over and the program thinking about 2023?
Below? I reveal my first-round picks — and beyond that will come soon. Happy Thanksgiving FCS Nation. I love this time of year. It has become a tradition in our house, that’s for sure.
So let’s get to it:
THE FCS PLAYOFF BRACKET PICKS
Starting with round one.
ST. FRANCIS, PA. (9-2) AT DELAWARE (7-4): I’m not going to lie … this NEC vs. CAA first-round matchup (a common occurrence) reminds me a bit of when Towson played Duquesne a few years back and Duquense knocked off a Flacco (the talented Tom variety). It’s so scarily similar. St. Francis is as good as it was when it had badass Lorenzo Jerome roaming the field — and this year the Red Flash took an FBS to OT (Akron) and the other loss was to a very strong FCS playoff team (Richmond).
On the flip side? If you know UD first-year coach Ryan Carty and the offense he brings to the table, you know what’s about to happen with the Blue Hens in the next few seasons. I love this matchup, and it is NOT an afterthought. WINNER GOES TO NO. 1 SDSU. BMAC’S PICK: Delaware
FORDHAM (9-2) AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (8-3): Look, any time you have schedule rotation (Big Sky, CAA, and to a minor extent the MVFC all have it, BTW) some teams are going to get the good luck year when it cycles a certain way. UNH got it this year. That’s not to say this program isn’t tough as hell, it usually is. The current UNH roster got business done in CAA play the way it was asked to do it. Not their fault, but UNH didn’t have to play William & Mary and Delaware.
UNH’s North Carolina Central loss (by 18) at home concerns me. Granted? NC Central is going to play in the Celebration Bowl against (duh) Deion’s Jackson State. The Eagles don’t suck, clearly. But Fordham? The Rams are better than N.C. Central and also beat three CAA teams this year, came within a point on the road of the best (and seeded) Holy Cross team in decades — and also was beating an FBS team in the final minute before falling (Ohio U.). Fordham is legit, and so is its QB Tim DeMorat (paging NFL teams). WINNER GOES TO NO. 8 HOLY CROSS. BMAC’S PICK: Fordham
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GARDNER-WEBB (6-5) AT EASTERN KY. (7-4): This Eastern Kentucky team is interesting. It rallied hard against FBS Eastern Michigan, then beat EMU’s MAC conference mate in 7 OTs (Bowling Green). And the Colonels also played two teams that are transitioning up to the FBS (Sam Houston and Jacksonville St.). EKU looks better than its record. GWU?
The Runnin’ Bulldogs are in the playoffs for the first time. If GWU’s coach’s Carolina surname “Lamb” sounds familiar? That’s because his uncle is Bobby Lamb, the guy who QB’d Furman to a national title game, and also became a big-time coach at Furman and got the Mercer program restarted. Don’t be surprised when his nephew Tre has success with GWU in Boiling Springs, N.C. Welcome to the FCS Playoffs, GWU. Another fun one. WINNER GOES TO NO. 5 WILLIAM & MARY. BMAC’S PICK: Eastern Kentucky
NORTH DAKOTA (7-4) AT WEBER STATE (9-2): I nailed 7 of the 8 teams that became seeds, but Weber State was the one I was “incorrect” with (vs UIW) — and I have some “beef” over that choice when it comes to the FCS committee. WSU is legit, had the blowout, signature FBS win (Utah State), and beat Montana and UC Davis. But ultimately? The Wildcats are in a good position. They are in a great place to win this week against UND and advance to play a Big Sky power that it lost by five to (Montana State). And that will be a fun one in week two. WINNER GOES TO NO. 4 MONTANA STATE: BMAC’S PICK: Weber State.
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SEMO (9-2) AT MONTANA (7-4): After several weeks of having them in, I didn’t even have Montana in my final bracket (let’s be honest) but because the Griz did get in? And they will host the first round as they usually do when they reach this level? I think they have a slight advantage over SEMO. The only common opponent is Northwestern State, and they both hammered the Demons.
Montana has hardly been perfect, and its blowout loss in the Brawl to Montana State shows/proves it. But the Griz also played playoff-bound Idaho, Weber State, and Sacramento State tough. Total points lost in those three: the Griz were 17 points away from 10-1. And when they’ve played the teams they “should” beat, they’ve laid down the thunder aside from the Idaho State game (cause for alarm? maybe). Going with home-field advantage here, because SEMO has been stout, but just hasn’t played this level of schedule the Griz have. WINNER GOES TO NO. 3 NDSU: BMAC’S PICK: Montana
IDAHO (7-4) AT SE LOUISIANA (8-3): Folks, I won’t lie — SE Louisiana has been perplexing at times. Texas A&M-Commerce loss? A newbie in the FCS? “Surviving” McNeese by a point, a 4-7 team in the Southland this year? But overall? The Lions have taken care of business in key times and they’ll be at home this weekend. The win over Incarnate Word and the win over Jacksonville State catch the eye, obviously. Idaho has some gems on its resume too, like the road win at Montana and having Sacramento State on the ropes late, but the Vandals will be on the road. This should be a fun one and could go either way — and the next-round game is not an impossible win for either. WINNER GOES TO NO. 6 SAMFORD: BMAC’S PICK: SE La.
ELON (8-3) AT FURMAN (9-2): This could soooooo be a second-round game. These two were clearly just outside of the seeding realm — in that No. 9 to No. 13-ish range. Elon had the lone win this year over William & Mary, and Furman is on a six-game win streak since losing to SoCon Champ Samford at home back on Oct. 1. This is probably the biggest 50/50 games on the slate this weekend, and there are several of this type. And the truth is? The winner of Elon-Furman? It will probably give 10-1 Incarnate Word fits in the 2nd round if it plays defense. WINNER GOES TO NO. 7 INCARNATE WORD: BMAC’S PICK: Furman
DAVIDSON (8-3) AT RICHMOND (8-3): This is probably the most obvious pick in the first round, as much as I love the Wildcats. My Uncle Jim (RIP, a proud Davidson grad & athlete), Coach Scott Abell, and all he and his staff have done, and of course — Steph Curry? It’s hard not to appreciate what’s going on there. It’s incredible the consistency and buzz this program has created outside of Charlotte.
But folks, Richmond is damned good. Like Kyle Lauletta years kind of good. I just don’t see this being close. — and honestly? If the bracket didn’t line up with a trip all the way out to central California in the second week? I could see the Spiders making it a few rounds. WINNER GOES TO NO. 2 SACRAMENTO STATE: BMAC’S PICK: Richmond
The weekly FCS football postseason predictions will always be pinned ASAP at the top of my Twitter acct (@BrianMacWriter), and will always be shared immediately with our good buddies — FCS Fans Nation — on the best message board in the level, their Facebook page.
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