A crystal ball is hardly needed to say North Dakota State will continue adding to its record nine FCS championships in the 2022 college football season, but with a record number of 130 programs this season, there’s plenty more predictions to go around – surely both right and wrong.
The fearless predictions are out for a highly anticipated campaign, which kicked off with a limited schedule this past Saturday and takes full flight this week over the extended Labor Day weekend.
Here’s to a memorable 2022 season:
*-Defending Champ; **-Defending Co-Champ
ASUN-WAC – Kennesaw State: Owls’ 49 wins since 2017 are third-most in FCS, but this is step up from Big South. (Conference Preview)
Big Sky – Montana: 2009 conference title was Griz’s 12th in a row, but there’s been none since then. (Conference Preview)
Big South – Campbell: Healthier Camels squad seeking first-ever title and FCS playoff bid. (Conference Preview)
CAA – **Villanova: Shared 2021 conference title with James Madison, now an FBS program. (Conference Preview)
Ivy – Harvard: Crimson coach Tim Murphy seeks to tie the late Carm Cozza (Yale) with record 10th title. (League Preview)
MEAC – *South Carolina State: Bulldogs have one more MEAC title (18) than conference’s other five current programs combined. (Conference Preview)
Missouri Valley – *North Dakota State: Have captured at least share of 10 of last 11 conference titles. (Conference Preview)
Northeast – Duquesne: Have five shared and outright titles since 2011, but only two playoff bids. (Conference Preview)
Ohio Valley – *UT Martin: In five-game OVC schedule, Skyhawks will go five weeks between third and fourth conference games. (Conference Preview)
Patriot – *Holy Cross: Crusaders seek to match 1998-2001 Lehigh squad with record fourth PL title in a row. (League Preview)
Pioneer – St. Thomas: Tommies ineligible for playoffs as second-year reclassifying program. (League Preview)
Southern – Chattanooga: Mocs need to lift offense to level of their conference-leading defense. (Conference Preview)
Southland – Southeastern Louisiana: Most conference wins in last three seasons haven’t yielded a title. (Conference Preview)
SWAC – *Jackson State: Tigers went 9-0 versus conference foes in coach Deion Sanders’ first full season. (Conference Preview)
FCS National Awards
Walter Payton Award (Offensive Player of the Year) – North Dakota State FB Hunter Luepke: The eye test would have to supersede the statistics of the most outstanding player award recipient in the 2021 FCS championship game. (Preseason Watch List)
Buck Buchanan Award (Defensive Player of the Year) – Fordham LB Ryan Greenhagen: With 102 tackles in four and a half games last season, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound middle linebacker was otherworldly before being halted by injury. (Preseason Watch List)
Eddie Robinson Award (Coach of the Year) – North Dakota State’s Matt Entz: If an 11-0 regular season follows the 2021 national title …
Jerry Rice Award (Freshman of the Year) – Jackson State S/WR Travis Hunter: When you’re the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruit, you’re easily in the conversation for national accolades.
FCS Playoff Qualifiers
Automatic: Campbell (Big South), Chattanooga (Southern), Davidson (Pioneer), Duquesne (Northeast), Holy Cross (Patriot), Kennesaw State (ASUN-WAC), Montana (Big Sky), North Dakota State (Missouri Valley), Southeastern Louisiana (Southland), UT Martin (Ohio Valley) and Villanova (CAA)
At-Large: Delaware, ETSU, Mercer, Missouri State, Montana State, Northern Iowa, Rhode Island, Sacramento State, Stephen F. Austin, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, UIW and Weber State
National Championship Game
Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas
North Dakota State over South Dakota State – The top two FCS teams entering the season will have to be on opposite sides of the playoff bracket to meet up in Frisco. SDSU is the only program to beat NDSU more than once since the Bison’s first of nine national championship seasons in 2011 (four times, including in each of the 2021 spring and fall seasons).
Dec. 17 in Atlanta
Jackson State over South Carolina State – SCSU handled JSU 31-10 in last year’s bowl game that matches the MEAC and SWAC champions, and the talent on this year’s squads suggests a rematch. There is added pressure on the Tigers after the underwhelming performance.