The 2022 FCS playoff bracket has 11 auto-bids and 13 at-large bids. Eight teams will be seeded with first-round byes. The national championship game is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 8, in Frisco, Texas. It will air on ABC.
How the playoff field changes and takes shape every week is fascinating. So after every weekend of games, I will predict what the bracket will look like.
Below are predictions for the seeds, auto-bids, at-large bids, and which teams are on the bubble.
These predictions take current playoff resumes and all future scheduled games into consideration.
This is through the eyes of the playoff committee and what I think they will do.
2021 Final Bracketology Accuracy: 7/8 seeds correct, 24/24 teams correct
These are playoff predictions and don’t reflect my current Top 25. The numbers associated with teams may not match where I currently rank them on my ballot.
3. Sac State
6. Montana State
7. Holy Cross
ASUN-WAC – Austin Peay
Big Sky – Montana
Big South – Campbell
CAA – Delaware
MVFC – NDSU
NEC – Sacred Heart
OVC – SEMO
Patriot – Holy Cross
Pioneer – Davidson
SoCon – Chattanooga
Southland – Southeastern
Ordered from most likely to least likely to get in. Seeded teams who are not their conference’s auto-bid will be at the top.
Sac State (seed)
Montana State (seed)
22. North Dakota
23. William & Mary
24. Missouri State
Bubble Teams Left Out
Ordered from best chance to make the bracket out of this group to worst chance.
25. UT Martin
The FCS playoff bracket is regionalized to save on travel costs. The committee must utilize as many bus trips as possible in the first round. Bus trips (400 miles or less) are SEMO-Austin Peay, Davidson-Mercer, Chattanooga-Southern Illinois, Campbell-Richmond, and Southeastern-Samford.
The committee avoids conference matchups in the first round if the two teams played each other in the regular season. However, if two conference teams did not play each other during the regular season, they may be paired up in the first round. Non-conference opponents who did play each other in the regular season can be matched up in the opening round.
Once first-round teams are paired up via proximity, they will be slotted with the seeds that are (again) as close as possible regionally.
The home team in a game between two unseeded teams is determined by who submitted the higher bid to host.
The order of seeds is NOT determined by regionalization. The seeds also can’t be adjusted once set to even out the sides of the bracket.
As stated above, keep in mind this does factor in future games.
The top 4 seeds are the four best teams in the FCS, in my opinion. I think the Jacks are the second-best team, but a potential upcoming loss at NDSU could drop them to the No. 4 seed. Even if SDSU wins in Fargo, the team does lose a game elsewhere it shouldn’t. Montana and Sac State are both currently undefeated, and they play each other in a few weeks. I can see both teams finishing 10-1 overall, and maybe one going undefeated, to be in the Top 3 seeds. What will be interesting is if the Bison drop the game to SDSU in a couple of weeks and trying to figure out how a 9-2 (9-1 vs. FCS) NDSU team stacks up resume-wise with a 10-1 or 11-1 Montana or Sac State, plus if SDSU has a letdown loss after the potential win at NDSU.
Delaware is 5-0 with an FBS win over Navy. The Blue Hens may get tripped up in the competitive CAA. Montana State is 4-0 vs. the FCS and has two tough games remaining — both at home vs. Weber State and Montana. Let’s say the Bobcats split those and finish 9-2 overall, good for a seed.
Holy Cross is 5-0 with an FBS win against Buffalo. The Crusaders may go 11-0 if they beat Fordham. But an undefeated HC team with no ranked wins (maybe one if Fordham is ranked later this month) likely won’t be seeded over a 10-1 or even a 9-2 FCS team with multiple ranked wins. Elon is 4-0 vs. the FCS with back-to-back ranked wins against W&M and Richmond. With games vs. Towson, at Rhode Island, at UNH, vs. Delaware, vs. UAlbany, and at Hampton, a 9-1 vs. the FCS Elon squad with multiple ranked wins is in the cards.
The only change from last week is SEMO winning the OVC instead of UT Martin. Those are clearly the two best teams, but SEMO has the better wins so far. And oddly, they do not play each other in the conference slate this year. So an interesting tiebreaker could be in place.
After the four at-large bids that are seeds…
Weber is 4-0 with an FBS win against Utah State. The reason it isn’t in the seeds yet is because tough games remain against EWU, Montana State, Montana, and Sac State. We’ll get a clearer picture of seeds from the Big Sky in the coming weeks. UIW is 4-1 with an FBS win and a ranked win against SIU, but its head-to-head loss to SLU may make it tough to seed even if UIW wins out, especially with a weaker SOS.
(Speaking of SLU, it may go 9-2 overall and 9-0 vs. the FCS with one ranked win against UIW, but is that resume good enough to be in the top eight seeds if the strength of schedule is in the 80s? We’ll see!)
Mercer is looking strong at 4-0 vs the FCS, but the SoCon is always good for some trip-ups. I think the SoCon is good enough to get three teams in this year. That No. 3 team right now is Samford, who is 4-0 vs. the FCS. It depends on how much the SoCon trips each other up or not, but Chattanooga/Mercer/Samford looks to be in the seed discussion by November.
Richmond (3-1 vs. FCS) and William & Mary (4-1 overall with an FBS win vs. Charlotte) look to be playoff-quality teams three and four from the CAA behind Delaware and Elon.
The MVFC gets five teams in as of now with UND, SIU, and Missouri State as non-seeds. SIU is 3-2 with an FBS win. UND just beat Mo State to move to 3-1 vs. the FCS. And Mo State (2-3 overall, 2-2 vs. the FCS, ranked win vs. UT Martin) is hanging on by a thread and may need a lot of help and have to win out if it does lose to SIU this weekend. But a path to seven D1 wins, possibly eight if they beat SIU, looks attainable for the Bears.
The OVC will be interesting if SEMO and UT Martin finish undefeated in league play. They do not play each other this year, so a tiebreaker could determine the AQ. I don’t know if there’s room for two OVC teams as the conference’s national reputation may not help in the at-large selection.
“Is there room?” mostly sums it up for these other teams that are solid but are currently on the outside looking in. Does a second team in the ASUN-WAC get in, or a fifth team from the CAA, or a second team from the Patriot League, or a fourth team from the SoCon?