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Week 1 FCS Football Predictions (Thursday Games)

2022 Predictions Record: 5-2

Week 1 is loaded with multiple key FCS matchups, which is why we will have a two-part prediction special this week. We predict the top Thursday night games on the FCS Week 1 slate right here and stay tuned for our weekend Week 1 predictions on Friday. You can find more detailed previews of some of the biggest games each week on our YouTube channel and each week on our FCS Preview Show.

#5 Missouri State @ Central Arkansas (7pm/CT; ESPN+)

The Bears enter the 2022 season with tremendous hype, but will face an extremely motivated Central Arkansas team on the road tonight. Northern Iowa transfer QB Will McElvain will be the new starting QB for the Bears and will look to replicate his success in 2019 when he was named a Phil Steele Freshman All-American. The question mark will be at the wide receiver position after Tyler Hudson announced his transfer to Louisville and Lujuan Winningham took his talents to the NFL. 

Missouri State will look to have another explosive offensive season behind MVFC Offensive Player of the Year Jason Shelley and FCS All-American WR Ty Scott. The defensive side of the ball will be led by returning starters CB Montrae Braswell, S Kyriq McDonald, and DE Kevin Ellis. Missouri State is primed for a deep run in the FCS Playoffs and the Bears cannot afford a Week 1 loss with a tough conference schedule looming later this season.

Prediction: Missouri State (35-24)

The Citadel @ Campbell (5pm/CT; ESPN+)

Will the recruiting success of Campbell lead to impressive on-field results? That question will be at the forefront of this matchup as the Camels host The Citadel in an extremely important out of conference matchup. QB Hajj-Malik Williams is finally healthy and will be looking to lead the Camels to their first conference championship at the FCS level. The defense is loaded with talented freshmen including 4-star Myles Rowser and 3-star Edric Weldon, but will still be led by Big South Defensive Player of the Year Brevin Allen. 

The Citadel will be debuting a new quarterback in 2022 and HC Brent Thompson announced he knows who the starter will be, but would not announce until gameday. Wofford transfer Peyton Derrick is the favorite, but freshman Ahmad Green has battled for the job all offseason. The triple option has caused many problems for talented defenses in the past and will be a difficult matchup in a Week 1 matchup for the Camels. I think the Camels have just enough defensive firepower to hold the triple option down and the offense will be able to put this game away late against The Citadel. 

Prediction: Campbell (23-16)

#8 Kennesaw State @ Samford (6pm/CT; ESPN+)

Kennesaw State comes into the season with high expectations and many experts are predicting this could be the year the Owls make that deep run in the FCS Playoffs. FCS All-American Xavier Shepherd returns after leading the FCS in rushing touchdowns (23) last season, while Iaan Cousin and Isaac Foster will be running backs to watch tonight for the Owls. The linebacker position will be a question mark after the departure of Evan Thompson, but the expect the defensive line to play a huge role as Travis Bell and Kerick Reese return to bolster a talented defensive line. 

The Bulldogs will have to replace Liam Welch at the QB position, but Michael Hiers and Nick Scalzo have battled for the QB1 spot and both could be solid options for Samford this season. The defense was an issue for the Bulldogs last season and the front-7 must be more disciplined on Thursday night after allowing over 240 yards rushing per game in 2021. Kennesaw State should be able to establish their offense early and the question marks surrounding the defensive side of the ball may be too much to overcome for the Bulldogs.

Prediction: Kennesaw State (41-20)

Mississippi Valley State @ Tarleton State (7pm/CT; ESPN+)

Tarleton State announced that former 4-star Kentucky QB Beau Allen will be the new starting quarterback after Steven Duncan announced his retirement from football this offseason. The Texans will have a new core of wide receivers, but landed two impact players in DeJuan Miller and Jaden Smith to bolster the receiving core. The defense will be led by LB D.J. Harris and DL Javier Duran, but will have to have some new names step into big roles in the secondary this season.

All-Conference RB Caleb Johnson will be the focal point of the Mississippi Valley State offense. Jalani Eason and JUCO transfer Jamari Jones both have competed for the QB1 role for the Delta Devils, but both QBs could see time on Thursday night. The defense must replace key DL contributors in Jeremiah Caine and Jerry Gardner, but Jalen Bell and Ronnie Thomas look to take that next step in 2022. All-Conference DB Caleb Brunson is a name to watch in the secondary as Mississippi Valley State looks to pull off the upset on Thursday night.

Prediction: Tarleton State (30-23)

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