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.
2. Weber State
4. Sac State
5. Montana State
7. Holy Cross
ASUN-WAC – Austin Peay
Big Sky – Weber
Big South – Campbell
CAA – William & Mary
MVFC – SDSU
NEC – Sacred Heart
OVC – SEMO
Patriot – Holy Cross
Pioneer – Davidson
SoCon – Mercer
Southland – Southeastern Louisiana
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)
21. Southern Illinois
22. North Dakota
Bubble Teams Left Out
Ordered from best chance to make the bracket out of this group to worst chance.
28. Rhode Island
30. 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, Chattanooga-Southern Illinois, Campbell-Richmond, Southeastern Louisiana-Samford, Sacred Heart-Delaware, and Davidson-William & Mary.
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.
SDSU (6-1 overall, 6-0 vs. FCS) is in a good position for a Top 2 seed after beating previously No. 1 NDSU. If the Jacks can win at ranked UND this week, their remaining schedule of vs. Indiana State, @ UNI, and vs. Illinois State is very favorable. NDSU will need some help to get a Top 2 seed and home-field advantage. The Bison (5-2 overall, 5-1 vs. FCS) will be favored to win out, but they do have two tough games in the final two weeks against ranked opponents – @ SIU and vs. UND. A 9-1 vs. FCS Bison squad with two ranked wins is a Top 4 seed, and depending on how much the Big Sky beats each other up, maybe the Bison do get a No. 2 seed.
Speaking of the Big Sky, my order of seeding could drastically change over the coming weeks. Montana could make its way back in, but a loss at home to Idaho before road games at Weber, Sac State, and MSU is difficult. Weber is 6-0 overall with a non-counter win and an FBS win (Utah State). The Wildcats have to go to MSU this weekend but get Montana and Sac State at home. Montana State is 6-1 overall and 6-0 vs. the FCS. It has the most favorable draw, avoiding Sac State and getting Weber and Montana at home. Sac State (6-0 with an FBS win on Colorado State) gets Montana at home this week and has to go to Weber.
Out of these four teams, I think Weber has the best shot to run the table. MSU has some key injuries on the o-line that could make for a tough matchup vs. Weber. But we’ll adjust as the results come in.
UIW is 6-1 overall with an FBS win (Nevada) and a ranked win on SIU. Its loss to SLU and an upcoming non-counter game could hurt UIW’s seeding chance since SLU could win out and earn the Southland’s auto-bid. But UIW’s body of work as a whole will be seedable, and it shouldn’t have a problem winning out to finish 10-1.
Holy Cross has a good chance to go 11-0 with an FBS win (Buffalo) and a ranked win if it beats Fordham. Its overall strength of schedule may prevent HC from getting a Top 5 seed.
I’m very high on Mercer. The Bears are good enough to finish undefeated vs. the FCS. But the SoCon loves to chop each other up, so we’ll see how things look after Mercer plays Top 10 Chattanooga this week.
After the four at-large bids that are seeds…
Idaho is 4-0 vs. the FCS and just won at No. 3 Montana. It has a favorable draw to make the playoffs (vs. Portland State, @ Sac State, vs. EWU, vs. UC Davis, @ Idaho State). Montana, who suffered its first loss, could work itself back into the seeding discussion with three road games at Top 10 opponents still to come. Delaware could also be a seedable team if it wins out to finish 10-1 with an FBS win vs. Navy.
Delaware’s one loss is to William & Mary. William & Mary is 5-1 with an FBS win on Charlotte and could also be a seed. W&M’s one loss is to Elon. Elon is 5-1 vs. the FCS but just lost to Rhody. So the CAA may beat itself up too much to have a seedable team. A lot of these top squads still have to play each other.
Chattanooga is 5-0 vs. the FCS and could enter the seeding discussion if it beats a Mercer team that is also undefeated vs. the FCS. Southern Illinois has won five straight, including a P5 win on Northwestern, after an 0-2 start. SIU could finish 3-1 with a loss to NDSU to have an 8-3 record.
North Dakota is 4-2 overall and 4-1 vs. the FCS. They had a hand in knocking Missouri State out of the Top 25. With games vs. SDSU and NDSU still to come, the Fighting Hawks have to handle business vs. ACU, @ Indiana State, and vs. USD to hit at least 7-4. Richmond got a big ranked win vs. Villanova to improve to 4-2 overall and 4-1 vs. the FCS. The final three games vs. UNH, @ Delaware, and vs. W&M will be huge for the Spiders to make the playoffs.
Samford is 5-1 overall and 5-0 vs. the FCS. Tough games are coming @ ETSU, @ The Citadel, vs. VMI, @ Chattanooga, and vs. Mercer. Winning three of those puts Samford in a good spot to make the playoffs.
Fordham (6-1 overall with a close FBS loss to Ohio) is a ranked team right now and looking like a worthy contender to Holy Cross. The Patriot League will need some bubble help to get two teams in, though.
New Hampshire is currently 5-2 overall, 5-1 vs. the FCS (loss to NC Central), and 4-0 in the CAA. UNH does avoid my Top 2 CAA teams in W&M and Delaware. It does have to play my No. 3 and No. 4 CAA teams (vs. Elon and @ Richmond), and vs. fellow bubble member Rhody. Rhode Island is 4-2 overall and 4-1 vs. the FCS with a ranked win on Elon. The loss is to Delaware. The stretch of games, including road trips to Monmouth, W&M, and UNH, makes for a tough path to the bracket.
Furman is 5-2 overall and 4-1 vs. the FCS. Upcoming ranked games vs. Chattanooga and @ Mercer will determine its playoff standings. The non-counter could hurt.
I know SFA was the ASUN-WAC auto-bid during the last computer rankings, but I can see one or two future losses vs. UCA or @ ACU to knock them down those rankings.
We’ll see how the OVC AQ is determined if UT Martin and SEMO go undefeated in league play since they do not play each other. If SEMO gets the AQ, UT Martin may not have a signature win to get the OVC an at-large bid, especially with its loss to Missouri State, who has turned out to be disappointing. If UT Martin gets the AQ, then SEMO would have a stronger argument for an OVC at-large bid with its win vs. SIU, who looks like a playoff team.