Week 1 FCS Football Predictions
2022 Predictions Record: 8-3
Week 1 is loaded with multiple key FCS matchups, which is why we had a two-part prediction special this week. We predict the top FCS Football games on th Week 1 slate right here. 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.
McNeese State @ #4 Montana State (7pm/CT; ESPN+)
The Bobcats look to make another run to Frisco after coming up short against North Dakota State last season, while McNeese State enters the Gary Goff era with a major out of conference test on the road. QB Tommy Mellott returns to lead the Montana State offense, but the Bobcats will be without All-American RB Isaiah Ifanse this weekend. The Montana State defense will be led by Ty Okada and Callahan O’Reilly, but the Bobcats will need a new name to emerge at EDGE after the departure of Daniel Hardy and Amandré Williams.
Georgia Southern transfer Cam Ransom looks to be the new QB1 for the Cowboys in 2022. The wide receiving core will have plenty of talent for Ransom as Mason Pierce returns and Jackson State transfer Aalah Brown steps into a big role for this offense. The defensive line will be key for McNeese State after leading the Southland in rushing defense last season. Defensive linemen Mason Kinsey and C.J. Semien will be the leaders of that front four for McNeese State this weekend.
Prediction: Montana State (38-14)
#9 Southern Illinois @ #14 Incarnate Word (6pm/CT; ESPN+)
This will be the first ranked game of the FCS season and it will answer multiple question marks surrounding both of these programs entering the 2022 season. GJ Kinne will make his head coaching debut with the defending Southland Conference champions. Lindsey Scott Jr. steps into the QB1 role after the departure of Cameron Ward, but will have FCS All-American WR Taylor Grimes as a major target this season. The defense for the Cardinals could be the x-factor this weekend. Kelechi Anyalebechi, Kaleb Culp, and Cameron Preston will be impact players for the Incarnate Word defense against an extremely talented Southern Illinois offense.
Southern Illinois will be led by Nic Baker at the QB position, but All-Conference WR Avante Cox is listed a doubtful due to a hand injury. Javon Williams Jr. will be a player to watch after leading the team in rushing yards (522) and touchdowns (9) last season. Defensive back PJ Jules will be a name to watch on the defensive side of the ball after totaling 11 pass breakups and over 100 tackles over the past three seasons. I expect this game to produce some explosive offensive highlights, but Southern Illinois has the fewest question marks right now and I think the Salukis escape with a huge Top-15 win.
Prediction: Southern Illinois (41-30)
#10 Stephen F. Austin @ Alcorn State (6pm/CT; ESPN+)
Stephen F. Austin created many question marks about their potential in a 42-17 loss to Jacksonville State in Week 0. The x-factor will be the new Stephen F. Austin all-time leader in receiving yards in Xavier Gipson. The Alcorn State defense will have to slow down Gipson and find a way to make Trae Self uncomfortable in the pocket this weekend. The defensive front for the Lumberjacks must play more physical after allowing over 285 rushing yards to the Gamecocks last weekend. DL BJ Thompson and LB Brevin Randle will be the players to watch on the defensive side of the ball for the Lumberjacks.
Alcorn State will have to replace Felix Harper, but Louisiana Tech transfer Aaron Allen steps in to the lead this Alcorn State offense. The key for the Braves will be establishing the rushing attack behind a talented duo of Niko Duffey and Javonta Leatherwood at the RB position. KJ Kinsler is the leader of the Alcorn State secondary and will have to be a major part of slowing down the explosive passing attack of Self and Gipson. This game will be an excellent test of the revamped Alcorn State offensive line and Fred McNair needs that group to be dominant this weekend.
Prediction: Stephen F. Austin (35-27)
Tennessee State @ #13 Eastern Washington (3pm/CT; ESPN+)
Eddie George spoke about how his team was going to be ready for the challenge of facing one of the best teams at the FCS level on the road. The Tigers reloaded through the transfer portal this offseason as Austin Peay transfer Draylen Ellis takes over the QB1 position for Tennessee State. Ellis will have a talented WR core led by Zaire Thornton and 4-star Georgia transfer JJ Holloman. Devon Starling returns to lead the Tennessee State rushing attack after leading the team in rushing yards (800) and being named a HERO Sports Sophomore All-American.
Gunner Talkington steps into the QB1 role after the departure of Walter Payton Award winner Eric Barriere. Wide receivers Freddie Roberson and Efton Chism III will be the top targets for Talkington this season. The defense could be a strength for this Eastern Washington team in 2022 as the Eagles return All-Conference defensive linemen Mitchell Johnson and Joshua Jerome. The secondary will be extremely experienced and could play a huge role in the success of Eastern Washington this season.
Prediction: Tennessee State (31-30) ***Upset Pick of the Week***
#15 Jackson State vs Florida A&M (2pm/CT; ESPN2)
Eligibility issues threatened to overshadow one of the most anticipated FCS games of the 20222 season, but early reports are promising that Florida A&M could be near full strength on Sunday against Jackson State. Jackson State won last year’s matchup 7-6 and that was the difference in the competitive SWAC East race last season. Shedeur Sanders will look to build on his freshman season (Jerry Rice Award Winner) and will have one of the deepest wide receiving rooms in the country. Shane Hooks, Trevonte Rucker, Kevin Coleman, and Western Illinois transfer Dallas Daniels will be names to watch at the WR position. The defensive side of the ball for the Tigers will be led by All-American Aubrey Miller Jr., De’Jahn Warren, Gregory Grate, and 5-star Travis Hunter.
Jeremy Moussa’s performance (279 Yards; 2 TDs) against North Carolina last week created a large amount of hype in Tallahassee. Xavier Smith and Jah’Marae Sheread will be the top targets for Moussa this weekend against a talented Jackson State secondary. The questions will be the availability of Isaiah Land (Buck Buchanan Award Winner) and BJ Bohler who are two of the most important pieces on the defensive side of the ball for the Rattlers. All-Conference DL Gentle Hunt and LB Isaiah Major will be players who need to have big games this weekend against an explosive Jackson State offense.
Prediction: Jackson State (31-21)
North Carolina A&T vs North Carolina Central (6:30pm/CT; ESPN+)
The 100th matchup in the Aggie-Eagle Classic will be held in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC in the Duke’s Mayo Classic. North Carolina A&T has won 4 straight games over North Carolina Central, but both programs enter the 2022 season with high expectations. The Aggies plan on using a 2-quarterback system this weekend as Zach Yeager and Jalen Fowler continue to compete for the QB1 job for the 2022 season. Charlie Dixon and Bhayshul Tuten will be the new 1-2 punch at running back for the Aggies and Tuten will be a name to watch this weekend in Charlotte.
North Carolina Central will lean on Davius Richard on the offensive side of the ball as he enters the season as a Top-8 passer in school history. Richard will have to depend on some young wide receivers, while Latrell Collier takes over as the starting running back for the Eagles. Brandon Codrington will be a name to watch on the defensive side of the ball and special teams.