The FCS is the least understood, yet most impressive college football level in Division I — and Gridiron Heroics is going to tell you all about it, 12 months a year, conference by conference, beginning with this week’s FCS football preview series for 2022. Today we publish the FCS’ Pioneer Football League Preview for 2022. The college football programs are good, these programs produce NFL-level talent, they beat FBS teams every year (want evidence? stay tuned – we will publish this in the next week) and they still get overlooked.
But Gridiron Heroics won’t be overlooking the FCS like everybody else does annually, we will be embracing the level and the stories these schools tell, year in and year out. Enjoy the preview. From Monday, Aug. 15 until our FCS overall preview finale on Friday, Aug. 26. (with the exception of the Ivy League preview on Sept. 13 — since they start Sept. 16), Gridiron Heroics breaks down the 15 conferences that make up the awesome, special level that is — the FCS. Check out the previews with the links below, conference by conference:
Enjoy the preview.
Also, from Monday, Aug. 22 until our FCS overall preview finale, Gridiron Heroics’ team of eight (yes, eight) FCS reporters break down the 15 conferences that make up the awesome, special level that is — the FCS. Check out the previews with the links below, conference by conference:
THE REST OF THE BEST FCS CONFERENCES IN AMERICA (click on links below)
OVERALL FCS PREVIEW: Overall FCS Preview
MONDAY, AUG. 22: ASUN-WAC & Big Sky
TUESDAY, AUG. 23: Big South, CAA, MVFC
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 24: OVC, Patriot
THURSDAY, AUG. 25: Pioneer, Southland
MONDAY, AUG. 29: HBCU DAY – MEAC & SWAC
TUESDAY, AUG. 30: NEC, SoCon
MONDAY, SEPT. 13: Ivy League (1st game Sept. 16)
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BMAC AND THE NACH PODCAST (Aug. 23 episode at top)
FCS NUTS AND BOLTS: All of the key facts for the 2022 FCS season
THE FCS CONFERENCE: Pioneer Football League (PFL)
THE TEAMS AND PLAYERS
THE TEAMS: Butler, Davidson, Drake, Marist, Morehead State, Presbyterian, San Diego, Stetson, St. Thomas, Valparaiso
THE 2021 CHAMPIONS: Davidson & San Diego, (7-1 record), (shared title). San Diego was won/shared the last 9 of 11 conference titles in the PFL.
THE NEXT BEST TEAMS: Although they are ineligible for a conference championship or a postseason berth due to a transition from D3 to D1, St. Thomas is coming off of a 7-3 record in 2021, and looks to climb atop the PFL standings in 2022. Another team to keep an eye on, and a sleep candidate for conference champion is the Dayton Flyers.
THE THREE BEST PLAYERS (STATS): RB: Jake Chisholm, Dayton, (1,394 Total yards, 19 Total touchdowns, also a Walter Payton Award preseason nominee.) DE: Jonathan Hammond, Davidson, (64 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and a Buck Buchanan Award preseason nominee.) RB: Hope Adebayo, St. Thomas, (658 total yards, 12 touchdowns.)
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
THE GOOD: The PFL rarely has much to offer when brought up in the playoffs conversation. But Pioneer League powerhouses, San Diego and Dayton look to change that this year. As either team looks to compete for the first postseason victory in the PFL since 2016.
THE BAD: Just like I had previously stated above, the Pioneer League doesn’t get much postseason hype, and not much regular season hype either. As they don’t have much talent compared to the Big Sky, CAA, MVFC, and the SWAC. With that being said, we could expect to see some blowout out-of conference matchups this season. such as Drake’s visit to NDSU, and Butler’s visit to SDSU early on in the season.
THE BIGGEST GAMES AND PREDICTIONS
THE BIGGEST CONF GAME OF THE YEAR (AND WHY): No-Brainer. This one is pretty self-explanatory, as it is basically the first round of the PFL Championship Game. Mark your calendars, and save the date. November 12, in San Diego, when the Davidson Wildcats pay a visit to the Toreros.
THE BEST CHANCE FOR AN FBS UPSET WIN (AND WHY): Hold up, there’s a catch. The PFL and the Ivy League both decided to not have any FCS vs. FBS matchups this year. But if I had to pick an FCS game for the biggest upset? it would definitely be Drake over NDSU, who are basically an over-qualified FCS team, and very well should be in the FBS soon. But don’t count on it, as the Bulldogs from Drake are coming off a horrendous 2-8 season last year.
THE HAPPY CONFERENCE HISTORY NUGGET: The PFL only have 2 victories in the FCS playoffs all-time. and both are owned by San Diego, which happened in back-to-back years, in 2016, and 2017.
THE PREDICTION — WHO GOES TO THE FCS POSTSEASON (AND WHY): Although San Diego has had Davidson’s number in past years. I believe that Davidson will once again make it to the postseason, and extend their playoff streak for the third year in a row. Led by HC Scott Abell, the Wildcats have mostly everything they need on, and off the field to get the job done.
THE SHOCKS AND SURPRISES
THE SURPRISE — WHO WILL SHOCK THE CONFERENCE (AND WHY): I said this once before in the article, and I’ll say it again. Dayton could be a heavy sleeper candidate, and could even steal the conference title. The Flyers have a pretty modest and do-able schedule, besides their end of season roadtrip to Davidson, North Carolina. Where they face Abell and the Wildcats.
THE TOP THREE (AND WHY)?: The top three will be as follows: 1. St. Thomas 2. Davidson 3. San Diego. Once again, unfortunately for the Tommies, they are stuck in the transition period until 2026. So for now, they’ll just have to rack up the Division 1 experience while they can, and turn some heads in the process (Which they’re already doing).
With all of that being said. It should be another great season of College Football in general, but hopefully the Pioneer League especially. As they try to find multiple berths in the FCS postseason, for the first time in league history.
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