A great Week 3 of the 2022 FCS season is here.
All year, I will share my thoughts and score predictions on the week’s biggest games. Week 3 features some awesome non-conference games between playoff hopefuls and a few interesting FCS vs. FBS matchups.
Let’s predict some scores.
2019-2021 record: 244-115
2022 record: 21-4
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No. 9 Delaware at No. 17 Rhode Island
A massive CAA showdown between undefeated teams as Delaware wants to hold onto its Top 10 status and Rhody looks for a marquee win after just missing out on the playoffs last season. Kasim Hill (526 yards passing, 4 TDs, 1 INT) vs. Nolan Henderson (414 yards passing, 5 TDs, 2 INT) is a fantastic QB showdown.
But what will be just as entertaining is Rhody cornerback Jordan Jones (who already has two interceptions and a pick-six after last year’s five interceptions) going up against Delaware WR Thyrick Pitts (who has 10 catches for 117 yards and a score). Henderson has plenty of other weapons as well, including Sam Houston transfer WR Chandler Harvin. Rhody’s passing defense looks to be more gettable than its rushing defense, and Delaware will get enough big plays to earn a road win.
Prediction: Delaware 24-21
No. 22 North Dakota at Northern Arizona
UND is 0-2 at NAU dating back to 2013. It hopes to avoid a repeat of 2018 when the Fighting Hawks lost 31-16 in Flagstaff in the regular-season finale to finish 6-5 and erase hope for a playoff bid. UND is riding big momentum right now, knocking off No. 24 Northern Iowa 29-27 last week. Maintaining that momentum is something UND, who is no stranger to ranked wins, has struggled to do over the years.
NAU is also coming off of a big win and looks to show it deserves more Top 25 votes. The Lumberjacks beat FBS-transitioning Sam Houston 10-3, a team that likely would have been ranked if eligible. The defense looked tough, and this team has young offensive talent like RB Kevin Daniels and QB RJ Martinez.
NAU is a tough place to play with its elevation. UND is coming off of a physical and emotional win, setting up an advantage for the Lumberjacks to spring the upset.
Prediction: Northern Arizona 31-28
No. 8 Sacramento State at Northern Iowa
UNI won this matchup 34-16 in Sacramento last September. That resulted in the Hornets making a change to a two-QB system, which proved to be successful the rest of last year and the start to this season with Jake Dunniway and Asher O’Hara. UNI also implemented a new starting QB last season in Michigan State transfer Theo Day, who remains the starting QB.
Sac State needs a win to prove it is a Top 10 FCS team, facing doubts courtesy of an 0-2 playoff record as the No. 4 seed. UNI needs a win just to get a win, facing an 0-2 record. This just seems like the kind of game UNI wins. The Panthers always seem to have their backs against the wall, whether it be in the playoff mix or falling in the national rankings, and then they grab a win against a ranked team to get back into the picture. I think UNI does it again Saturday in front of a solid home atmosphere.
Prediction: UNI 28-24
The Citadel at No. 20 Mercer
The balance in the SoCon was on display last week when The Citadel beat No. 9 ETSU 20-17. Its defense has played tough. Guys like DB Dominick Poole and DL Carson Hatchett are studs. The Bulldogs now look to prove they aren’t good for just one upset here and there, but they can do it back-to-back weeks.
Mercer is looking strong this year, and is a Top 2 team in the SoCon, in my opinion, alongside Chattanooga. But we also don’t have a great gauge on the Bears and are just basing our opinion on returning talent from last year. Beating Morehead State 63-13 and losing at Auburn 42-16 doesn’t tell us everything. But I believe the Bears will tell us they are for real with a two-possession victory this weekend.
Prediction: Mercer 24-14
Furman at No. 18 ETSU
ETSU went from a Top 10 ranked team to falling out of some people’s Top 25 after losing 20-17 at The Citadel last week, which came after beating up on non-D1 Mars Hill in the opening weekend. As I wrote for my ballot, dropping the Bucs all the way out may be dramatic, but there are more worthy teams to be ranked in the Top 25 right now. ETSU can win its way back in.
Furman can also win its way into the Top 25, as the Paladins are looking like a Top 25-worthy team. Relatively speaking, Furman competed well against Clemson, losing 35-12. Furman also played a non-D1 opponent in Week 1 (not ideal for playoff positioning, folks) and hammered North Greenville. New starting QB Tyler Huff, a transfer from Presbyterian, is looking sharp.
Furman lost this game 17-13 last year, one of four SoCon contests it lost by seven points or less. The Paladins will show they are ready to turn those close losses into wins this year and be a bigger factor in the conference standings.
Prediction: Furman 28-24
Yale at No. 13 Holy Cross
Holy Cross is coming off of an incredible 37-31 win vs. Buffalo on a last-second 46-yard Hail Mary from Matthew Sluka to Jalen Coker. It was the second straight season Holy Cross beat an FBS opponent, defeating UConn last year. The Crusaders, an experienced squad returning nearly everyone from last year’s playoff team that almost knocked off Villanova, will learn from last year’s lesson. They lost by 14 points to Merrimack a week after beating UConn.
They recovered the week after that, beating Yale 20-17.
Now Yale comes to town as Holy Cross looks to avoid another letdown showing post FBS win. Yale has eight returning All-Ivy League players from last year’s 5-5 team. Holy Cross is the better team and should come out sharp to get a win for its Homecoming game.
Prediction: Holy Cross 28-21
No. 4 Montana State at Oregon State
MSU has dominated its first two opponents despite being down its top three RBs. Granted, McNeese has struggled recently, and Morehead State is non-scholarship. But a combined score of 103-30 has allowed us to see which new players will step up in key spots, like Ravi Alston at WR or Sebastian Valdez on the DL. Now the competition stiffens against an FBS opponent before Big Sky play.
The Bobcats aren’t expected to beat Oregon State, who is looking strong at 2-0 with wins against Boise State and Fresno State. But competing well, especially at a neutral site in Portland, will give us a good gauge of where this team is at. I’ve said all offseason that plenty of talent remains, it’s just unproven talent. I think it’ll be close at halftime before Oregon State extends its lead to two scores in the fourth quarter.
Tommy Mellott will have to make plays with his arm. Oregon State will be able to limit the run, a combination of its team strength and MSU being down several backs. Even if it’s a loss, this is a chance for Mellott to show he is one of the better QBs in the FCS.
Prediction: Oregon State 31-21
No. 1 North Dakota State at Arizona
A rare game where we aren’t totally sure if NDSU will win or not. The Bison haven’t played an FBS opponent since 2016. There’s a reason for that, considering they have a six-game winning streak against the FBS dating back to 2010. Plus COVID canceled the 2020 game at Oregon.
NDSU does not match up as well with Arizona compared to a team like Iowa. As a ranked Iowa team found out in 2016, it’s hard to out-Bison the Bison. Arizona plays a different style of ball, though, where it tries to out-athlete you in space rather than out-physical you. This is going to result in the Wildcats jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead. But then the Bison defense will settle in and adjust, and NDSU will own the line of scrimmage and the time of possession to climb back and take the lead in the fourth.
NDSU’s front seven has question marks, especially after the serious leg injury to preseason All-American DT Eli Mostaert. But its secondary is its strength, a good sign against Arizona. This will be a great test for QB Cam Miller, who will need to make some throws. But there’s a fair argument that this will be one of the better o-lines Arizona will see all year, and if NDSU’s system can wear down an Iowa team, it’s going to wear down this Arizona team by running the ball and bleeding the clock. Physical football > finesse football.
Prediction: NDSU 28-24
Stony Brook at UMass
UMass pulled off the rare feat of losing to two FCS teams in one season last fall. And it came in back-to-back weeks against CAA teams: Rhode Island (35-22) and Maine (35-10). The Minutemen finished 1-11 last season, and are off to an 0-2 start this fall with a 42-10 loss at Tulane and a 55-10 loss at Toledo. Stony Brook is an above-average FCS team who plays a physical brand of football. It finished 5-6 last season and 4-4 and the CAA.
The Seawolves had an extra week to prepare with a Week 2 bye after losing 35-14 to ranked Rhode Island. Stony Brook has some dudes, like LB Tyler King, RB Ty Son Lawton, and OL Kyle Nunez. This team is a top-half squad in the FCS. And as we like to say, the top half of the FCS is stronger than the bottom of the FBS. And UMass might literally be at the bottom of the FBS.
Prediction: Stony Brook 21-14