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 eight-game second round this weekend — who will be happy as hell Saturday night after advancing out of the second round, and whose season will be over with the program thinking about 2023?
Below? I reveal my second-round picks.
Last week?: I went 6-2 in my first-round picks. I went out on a limb with Fordham knocking off New Hampshire, but the Wildcats are well-coached and generally are a granite-tough program. And Gardner-Webb taking out Eastern Kentucky? There’s no way I ever would have predicted that (UNH? yes, but not this one). GWU is really building something special in the Big South Conference, and young head coach Tre Lamb reminds me of several of the young stars in coaching we’ve seen come through the FCS in recent years.
So let’s get to it:
THE FCS PLAYOFF BRACKET PICKS
Second-round matchups below (FCS seeds indicated with home teams):
DELAWARE (8-4) AT NO. 1 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (10-1): South Dakota State hasn’t lost to an FCS team this year and played a much more challenging slate than Delaware did. The Jackrabbits may have the best team the campus has ever seen (ask Kirk Ferentz at Iowa — his team only managed two safeties and a field goal in a 7-3 win against SDSU this year). Delaware had bright and low spots under first-year coach Ryan Carty, and the Blue Hens are heading in a special direction, but this is a simple pick in 2022. BMAC’S PICK: SDSU by a lot
NEW HAMPSHIRE (9-3) AT NO. 8 HOLY CROSS (11-0): I had somebody Tweet at me this week — this is the biggest college football game up in that neck of the woods in New England in several years. I believe it. Holy Cross has been insanely effective this year. The Crusaders have a win over an FBS-eligible team win (Buffalo). HC also caused pain for some very strong Ivy League teams, something that isn’t a guarantee for Patriot League programs, usually — and this is by a mile the best Crusaders team since 1989, and arguably since the leather-helmet days, as we’ve said before here at GridironHeroics. New Hampshire (repeating myself) did well this year in the CAA but didn’t face the grind of the tougher schedule because of schedule rotation. BMAC’S PICK: Holy Cross in a close one.
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GARDNER-WEBB (7-5) AT NO. 5 WILLIAM & MARY (10-1): Gardner-Webb is the story of the tournament. The Runnin’ Bulldogs not only made their first FCS playoff appearance, but they also won their first playoff game. But this task is too tough for GWU. William & Mary (my sister’s alma mater) is having its best season, arguably, ever. Coach Mike London has done an incredible job. The Tribe only had one blip on their resume in the FCS (playoff team Elon) and beat an FBS team (Charlotte) and two FCS playoff teams. BMAC’S PICK: William & Mary comfortably.
WEBER STATE (10-2) AT NO. 4 MONTANA STATE (10-1): Sorry Montana State fans, you’re going to hate me on this one. Look, Weber State is less than 10 points away from likely being the No. 1 seed. I had Weber State in my pre-bracket release as a seed, and I stand very, very firmly behind that and I think you’re going to see why this weekend — even though Montana State is clearly a quarterfinalist-level opponent, if not semifinalist. That’s the glory of the FCS bracket, I guess. This matchup is too early in the playoffs, in my opinion. But I think Weber State’s 5-point loss in Bozeman earlier this year will be reversed — it’s going to be a good one, a true toss-up, but Weber State wins. BMAC’S PICK: Weber State wins in a nailbiter that is clearly the top game of the weekend.
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MONTANA (8-4) AT NO. 3 NORTH DAKOTA STATE (9-2): I didn’t have Montana making the tournament when I previewed my FCS bracket. The Griz are clearly a Top 25 type of team, but with automatic bids, etc, I just didn’t see UM being an at-large team. I think we’re going to see why on Saturday. BMAC’S PICK: NDSU by several scores.
SE LOUISIANA (9-3) AT NO. 6 SAMFORD (10-1): These are two teams I’m really, really interested in watching. Samford had some close ones, but hell — the Bulldogs held FBS No. 1 Georgia to fewer points scored than all but three FBS opponents, so there’s that. But on the flip side? SE Louisiana gave Louisiana-Lafayette all it wanted, knocked off FCS seed Incarnate Word and beat the pants off of a 9-2 Jacksonville State team that is transitioning to the FBS. But at the same time? Both teams have had head-scratching results, too. Who shows up? Hell, I think Weber State at Montana State is the best matchup of the weekend, but this might be, too. BMAC’S PICK: SE Louisiana.
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FURMAN (10-2) AT NO. 7 INCARNATE WORD (10-1): I’m sorry UIW fans, I think it’s amazing what your offense has done in 2022 — but I think Furman’s work down the stretch the past several weeks is an indicator of what the Paladins can do, too. This team is hot coming in (granted, UIW is too) and played very well in the first round. Furman held eight opponents this year to under 20 points. I think if Furman’s defense locks in, that’s the ultimate winner here — but it’ll likely be tense into the fourth quarter. BMAC’S PICK: Furman by a hair
RICHMOND (9-3) AT NO. 2 SACRAMENTO STATE (11-0): Aside from NDSU and SDSU’s matchups, I think this is the clearest result to predict in the FCS second round. Richmond does have its best team in a few years and is building back, but Sacramento State should have been the No. 1 seed and has proven this over and over again. The Spiders will make it interesting for a while, but the Hornets will win again at home. BMAC’S PICK: Sacramento State comfortably
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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