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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Most of the discussion of Davidson has centered on the challenge of defending their triple option offense...
Coach Huesman pointed out during his remarks it also puts pressure on the UR offense...the triple option rushing game typically cuts down on the number of offensive possessions, making scoring when you get the ball even more important than usual...
that means the Spiders need TDs in the red zone not FGs...
Furman leads Elon 12-8
Delaware leads Saint Francis 1-0
New Hamp leads Fordham 1-0
Richmond leads Davidson 19-9-1
Weber St leads N Dakota 4-1
First meetings: Gardner-Webb/E Kentucky; Idaho/SE Louisiana; and SE Missouri/Montana
Who advances to the second round of the 2022 FCS playoffs to take on the seeds? Let’s predict some scores.
Davidson at Richmond
In its last two playoff appearances, Davidson has lost 49-14 to Jacksonville State in the spring and 48-21 to Kennesaw last fall. This year’s option attack does lead the FCS in rushing yards per game (350.5). But Richmond prides itself on a tough defense, allowing 20.3 PPG and 120.2 rushing yards a game, which is the 24th-best in the FCS. Tristan Wheeler is a veteran stud at LB and has 97 tackles and nine TFLs in 2022.
Richmond should be too much for non-scholarship Davidson. The unique offense maybe keeps it close for 1.5 quarters, but the Spiders will adjust on defense and will be too athletic on the edge offensively to make this a close game.
Notable – Davidson, from the non-scholarship PFL, has lost in each of the past two playoffs – their first appearances – by a combined 97-35. The Wildcats, facing Richmond for the first time in 49 years, leads the FCS in rushing yards per game (350.5), with QB Jayden Waddell at the controls. They seek to contain a Udinski-led passing attack that boasts the only FCS trio to have 60+ receptions (Jasiah Williams, 75; Herres, 65; and Leroy Henley, 61). The Spiders have allowed only 277.4 yards and 15.3 points per game in wins, but it’s 472.7 and 33.7, respectively, in losses.
Up Next – The winner will advance to play at No. 2 seed Sacramento State (11-0) in the second round (5 p.m. ET on Dec. 3)
The first round of the FCS Playoffs begins this weekend and the SWAC West will be decided in the Bayou Classic. The Bluebloods preview all the FCS action here.
Davidson @ Richmond (1pm/CT; ESPN+)
Davidson will make their 3rd consecutive FCS Playoffs appearance, but will look to win their first postseason game in school history. The Wildcats enter this matchup leading the country in rushing offense as five different players have topped the 300-yard mark for the season. Running backs Dylan Sparks (785 Rushing Yards; 5 TDs) and Coy Williams (779 Rushing Yards; 11 TDs) have been the leaders of the Wildcats rushing attack. The x-factor will be the secondary slowing down one of the most efficient passing attacks in the country and Kaedon Jenkins (12 Pass Breakups) will be one of the key players to watch in the secondary.
Richmond finds themselves in the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2016 when the Spiders made a run to the quarterfinals. Reece Udinski (3152 Passing Yards; 24 TDs) has been one of the most efficient QBs in the country, but will face a secondary that has only allowed three teams to surpass 200 yards passing this season. Linebackers Tristan Wheeler (97 Total Tackles; 9 TFLs) and Phillip O’Connor (80 Total Tackles; 6.5 TFLs) have been the leaders of the #1 rushing defense in the CAA, which will be the x-factor against the powerful rushing attack for the Wildcats.