FCS First Round Playoffs: Lower Half of Bracket

The 2022 FCS playoffs begin on Saturday with eight first-round games.

The 24-team field will play at the school’s venues until the January 8 championship game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Following are capsule previews of Round 1 games in the bottom half of the bracket anchored by No. 2 Sacramento State (all times ET):

Elon (8-3, 6-2 CAA) at Furman (9-2, 7-1 SoCon)

Kicking off – Noon at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, South Carolina (ESPN+)

Series – Furman leads 12-8 (last encounter: Elon won 45-7 at home on September 8, 2018)

Trainer – Elon: Tony Trisciani (20-19, fourth season); Furman: Clay Hendrix (40-25, sixth season)

3 players in mind – Elon: QB Matthew McKay (177 of 283, 2,471 yards, 21 TDs, 4 INTs; 405 rushing yards, 3 TDs), RB Jalen Hampton (1,023 rushing yards, 10 TDs), Spur Marcus Hillman (73 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 8 .5 sacks, 4 FF); Furman: QB Tyler Huff (70.1% completion, 13 TDs; 537 rushing yards, 5 TDs), TE Ryan Miller (61 receptions, 652 yards, 11 TDs), ILB Braden Gilby (76 tackles, 14 TFL)

Remarkable – Furman won 28-27 at Elon in a 2017 first-round matchup. That season, both teams had three regular-season wins against ranked opponents, just one shy of the national high. Hampton is an Elon workhorse with over 22 carries per game, but Furman has been solid in a run-focused SoCon, allowing just 110.5 rushing yards per game. The host Paladins’ 16 interceptions, led by FS Hugh Ryan’s four, are the third most in FCS, but Elon has the better turnover margin, +9 to +6. Elon’s Skyler Davis is 16th of 20 in field goal attempts this season and 67th of 88 (76.1%) in his career.

Next – The winner will play in the second round (2:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 3) at UIW #7 (10-1).

prediction – Elon 24, Furman 23

Davidson (8-3, 6-2 Pioneer) at Richmond (8-3, 6-2 CAA)

Kicking off – 2 p.m. at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium in Richmond, Va. (ESPN+)

Series – Richmond leads 19-9-1 (last meeting: Richmond won 42-0 at Davidson on September 15, 1973)

Coach – Davidson: Scott Abell (34-18, fifth season; 73-42 overall); Richmond: Russ Huesman (32-28, sixth season; 91-65 overall)

3 players in mind – Davidson: RB Dylan Sparks (792 rushing yards, 5 TDs), FB Coy Williams (779 rushing yards, 11 TDs), DE Jonathan Hammond (36 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks); Richmond: QB Reece Udinski (329 of 445, 3,152 yards, 24 TDs, 4 INTs), WR Jakob Herres (65 receptions, 850 yards, 5 TDs), LB Tristan Wheeler (97 tackles, 9 TFL, 2 INTs)

Remarkable – The non-scholarship PFL’s Davidson has lost in each of the last two playoffs — their first appearances — by a combined 97-35. The Wildcats, facing Richmond for the first time in 49 years, lead FCS in rushing yards per game (350.5), with QB Jayden Waddell taking control. They’re trying to stem a passing attack led by Udinski, who boasts the only FCS trio with 60+ receptions (Jasiah Williams, 75; Herres, 65; and Leroy Henley, 61). The Spiders have conceded just 277.4 yards and 15.3 points per game in wins, but they are 472.7 and 33.7 in losses, respectively.

Next – The winner plays in the second round (5:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 3) at Sacramento State (11-0), seeded at No. 2.

prediction – Richmond 42, Davidson 21

Idaho (7-4, 6-2 Big Sky) in Southeast Louisiana (8-3, 5-1 Southland)

Kicking off – 7 p.m. at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, Louisiana (ESPN+)

Series – First date

Coaches – Idaho: Jason Eck (7-4, first season); Southeast Louisiana: Frank Scelfo (33-22, fifth season)

3 players in mind – Idaho: QB Gevani McCoy (185 of 272, 2,376 yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs), WR Hayden Hatten (74 receptions, 1,000 yards, 15 TDs), LB Fa’Avae Fa’Avae (99 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 FF ); Southeast Louisiana: QB Eli Sawyer (121 of 194, 1,605 yards, 11 TDs, 1 INT), WR Gage Larvadain (45 receptions, 582 yards, 2 TDs; 25.0 yard KOR average), LB Donte’ Daniels (79 tackles, 5.5 TFL)

Remarkable – Idaho is enjoying its first winning season since 2016, and that includes the first four seasons of Vandals Return from the FBS level. Big Sky Freshman of the Year McCoy missed the regular season finale when Jack Layne stepped in to pass for 255 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Woods (814 rushing yards, 2 TDs) is the Vandals’ rushing leader, but Roshaun Johnson (12 total TDs) does the heavy lifting around an opponent’s goal line. SLU handed UIW (10-1) its only loss and Jacksonville State (9-2) one of its two losses. With Zy Alexander, Jack Henderson and Ferlando Jordan, the Lions won three of the five defensive back spots in the All-Southland First Team. Meanwhile, Sawyer and Cephus Johnson III (1,146 passing yards, 419 rushing yards) were behind the center.

Next – The winner plays 6th seeded Samford (10-1) on December 3 (3pm ET on December 3rd).

prediction – Southeast Louisiana 33, Idaho 31

Southeast Missouri (9-2, 5-0 Ohio Valley) in Montana (7-4, 4-4 Big Sky)

Kicking off – 10 p.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Montana (ESPN2)

Series – First date

Coaches – Southeast Missouri: Tom Matukewicz (50-51, ninth season; 51-51 overall); Montana: Bobby Hauck (115-33, Season 12; 130-82 overall)

3 players to watch – Southeast Missouri: RB Geno Hess (206 carries, 1,569 yards; 21 total TDs), ILB Bryce Norman (108 tackles, 7 QBH, 2 takeaways), DB Lawrence Johnson (76 tackles, 4 sacks, INT, 8 PBU); Montana: QB Lucas Johnson (161 of 254, 1,857 yards, 19 TDs, 6 INTs; 7 rush TDs), LB Patrick O’Connell (64 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 takeaways), S Robby Hauck (95 tackles, 4 TFL)

Remarkable – Montana won an FCS-record 26th playoff bid despite a 55-21 loss to Montana State last Saturday. Still, the Grizzlies have a +206 points lead, sixth-best in FCS and second-best among teams campaigning in the first round (Saint Francis, +212). Robby Hauck has 459 career tackles, which ranks third in Big Sky history, but the total is just 14 short of the record. Both starting QBs have been struggling with injuries recently. SEMO’s Paxton DeLaurent has missed the last two games with true freshman Patrick Heitert coming on for him. Hess is coming off a career-high 317 rushing yards against Murray State, while the 439 UM handed to Montana State was the highest allowed in nearly 24 years.

Next – The winner plays in the second round (3:30 p.m. on December 3) against third-seeded North Dakota State (9-2).

prediction – Montana 42, Southeast Missouri 28


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